Recently, the US has seen nationwide protests as a result of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis Police. It is sadly not the first time such a disturbing event has occurred in recent memory. It is, however, a grim result of racial tensions between police and citizens, particularly those in the communities of color.
In many ways, George Floyd's death is a catalyst for change. The haunting video of his killing has circulated endlessly, sparking national and international peaceful protests and mass cries for racial justice and police reform. These tensions have inspired a larger conversation about racial and socioeconomic inequality that is both necessary and a long-time coming. It is a conversation that the Catholic Campaign For Human Development (CCHD) has long participated in. CCHD was originally founded in the aftermath of the late 1960s race riots as a way to address systems and structures that perpetuate the evil of racism. Today, our funded organizations are continuing to live out that mission by amplifying their efforts to address the disparities that contribute to the disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on communities of color. By addressing the root causes of poverty and providing education on how to fight systemic racism, as well as locally enacting positive change to enable a bright future for those most vulnerable, CCHD emphasizes empowerment and participation.
Through initiatives like PovertyUSA, CCHD supports and works closely with local organizations that enact change through legislation, labor organization, community organizing, environmental protection, and more.
For 50 years now we've worked for racial justice in all aspects of society -- criminal justice reform, affordable housing, environmental justice, and more -- and will continue to do so. As many communities of color continue to experience the impact of decades of systemic racism, which have led to disparities that prevent families from thriving, the groups CCHD supports seek to address these disparities. If you want to get involved in creating a better future, check out some of our resources for racial justice below.
Boston, MA Area:
- Greater Boston Interfaith Organization: An organization made up of 41 dues-paying member institutions representing more than 50,000 people, GBIO creates a better place for people to live in Boston. For more than 20 years, they've improved housing and healthcare, reformed criminal justice, addressed racial disparities, and rebuilt schools and neighborhoods, among other issues.
- Massachusetts Communities Action Network: MCAN is a statewide organization focused on enacting change through legislation. Lately, their work includes legislative victories on the Student Opportunity Act, family medical leave, criminal justice reform, funding for pre-apprentice training, increasing the minimum wage, and more.
- People Organized for Westside Renewal: A membership-based organization that works on issues such as affordable housing, community safety, and access to quality education in Los Angeles. They recruit and develop leaders in low-income communities in order to drive social change.
- Sacramento Area Congregations Together (ACT): ACT has active campaigns to remove police presence from local schools and against city/county jail expansion. They are also engaging in ongoing work with the community, allies, and clergy following the March 2018 police shooting of a community member, Mr. Stephon Clark.
- Faith In The Valley: With 120 congregations representing over 100,000 people, Faith In The Valley participates in the national Live Free Campaign that seeks police reform, incarceration reform and reduction of gun violence in Fresno County.
Chicago, IL Area:
- Precious Blood Ministries of Reconciliation: Serving residents of Chicago's Back of the Yards neighborhood, PBMR heads numerous programs and initiatives focused on education, workforce development, arts & culture, and more. As of late, they have been focusing efforts on criminal justice reform.
- Metropolitan Tenants Organization: Their mission is to, "educate, organize and empower tenants to have a voice in the decisions that affect affordability and availability of safe, decent and accessible housing." They operate on the principle that everyone's housing should be affordable, stable, accessible, and habitable.
- Together Louisiana: Together Louisiana works on issues that include tax fairness, access to healthcare, flood recovery, access to healthy food, workforce development, criminal justice reform, and improving infrastructure and transportation.
- New Orleans Workers' Center for Racial Justice: Founded as a workers’ rights and racial justice response to hurricane Katrina, their work includes initiatives such as the Congress of Day Laborers, Seafood Workers Alliance, Stand With Dignity, and other miscellaneous legal & policy advocacy.
Memphis, TN Area:
- Memphis Interfaith Coalition for Action and Hope: Their current platform "concentrates on three pillar issues, economic equity, education equity, and immigration & intercultural equity. . . always seeking to 'do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with our God.'"
- Restore OKC: Focused on Oklahoma City, Restore OKC helps the community via housing repair, school & student support, restoring local farms and providing job training, as well as economic development. They, "believe that the 'impossible divisions' can be crossed and we can learn how to live in genuinely reconciled communities."
St. Louis, MO Area:
- Metropolitan Congregations United: "MCU has been active in keeping local schools open, holding errant landlords accountable, local economic development, immigration reform, helping to create and pass legislation at state, local and national level impacting children’s health, foreclosure solutions, transportation and job creation. MCU has been active over the years in moving people to the polls and in ballot initiatives to create fairness in payday loans, minimum wage and democratic practices." Lately, they have been focusing their efforts on combating systemic racism through areas of education, policing, and criminal justice reform.
- Parents United for Change/COFI: Their mission is to, "strengthen the power and voice of low-income and working families at all levels of civic life—from local institutions and communities to local, state, and federal policy arenas."
- United Congregations of Metro-East (Belleville, IL): Committed to systemic change for people subjected to social, racial, and economic challenges, they recently pressed authorities to open a coronavirus testing site in East St. Louis, IL. They've also used social media and online actions to highlight racial disparities in COVID-19 healthcare systems.
- COPS/Metro Alliance: Thanks to longtime support from CCHD, COPS/Metro Alliance (Communities Organized for Public Service) is a coalition of congregations, unions, and schools that enact change on the behalf of families. Recent successful initiatives include their After School Challenge Program, San Antonio Education Partnership, Project QUEST, and other programs focused on immigrant rights and improving access to healthcare.
- Dallas Area Interfaith: DAI believes that voting is just the first step to building strong and positive communities. From improving police relations, protecting immigrant rights, expanding healthcare to so much more, you can check out their current campaigns here.
Washington, DC Area:
- Washington Interfaith Network (WIN): A multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-faith organization that advocates for affordable housing, tackles the unemployment rate, protects immigrant rights, and more. They also bring attention to the fact that the DC Streetcar, Metro Access, and Circulator are privately contracted, meaning they do not receive the same rights as the Metro employees who work for the city.
- No Boundaries Coalition (Baltimore, MD): Community organization in West Baltimore that hosts local events centered around youth organizing, health & food justice, and various other forms of community advocacy.
About Poverty USA
Poverty USA is an initiative of the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) and was created as an educational resource to help individuals and communities to address poverty in America by confronting the root causes of economic injustice—and promoting policies that help to break the cycle of poverty.
The domestic anti-poverty program of the US Catholic bishops, CCHD helps low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families, and communities—and nurtures solidarity between people living in poverty and their neighbors.
Photo cred: Life Matters