Support small local nonprofits serving young mothers, at-risk youth, and elderly living independently.
The Community Priorities Fund of the Catholic Community Foundation is a discretionary fund that supports small, local nonprofits that are making a critical difference in the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis.
Since its establishment in 2000, the Community Priorities Fund has granted nearly $1 million to organizations serving young mothers with children, at-risk youth, and the elderly. Because the charities that receive funding typically have small budgets and are volunteer driven, the impact of each dollar of support is significant.
Jo Bailey, chair of the Foundation’s Grants Committee, said, “We look for creative thinkers, grassroots organizations with small budgets, so we know the donations we give have an impact. We don’t want to throw our money into a huge budget. We want to make a tangible difference.” Grants from the Community Priorities Fund range from $1,000 to $4,000.
Because they are small, many of the grant recipients aren’t widely known to the community, despite the good works they do. Casa Guadalupana on St. Paul’s West Side is a good example. In keeping with Dorothy Day’s commitment to honor the God-given dignity of every person, Casa Guadalupana serves the needs of Latino immigrants who fall through the cracks of traditional services.
The Community Priorities Fund supports Casa’s efforts to help young mothers with children by supporting them in the community and when necessary, providing transitional housing. Kim Anderson, the director, says, “We’re filling the gap on basic needs, like food, baby items, clothing and finding medical resources. We also provide companionship for moms who are isolated because of the language.”
The Banyan, a nonprofit located in the Phillips neighborhood of Minneapolis, receives funding to provide after school programs for youth considered to be at-risk. It started in the early 1990’s when founder, Joani Essenburg, moved into the neighborhood and realized that kids there needed a safe place to go after school.
At first, she let them play in her yard but in 1998, she established The Banyan, which now serves 70 to100 children a day. In a neighborhood where high school dropouts are common, 100 percent of Banyan’s kids graduate and many have gone on to college. Joani says, “That’s unheard of in this neighborhood.”
Joani believes the benefits of receiving a Community Priorities Fund grant go beyond the money itself. She explains, “It’s like a seal of approval. When we list the Catholic Community Foundation as a donor, it shows we’re aligned with their values and it encourages others to give as well.”
Jo Bailey knows from site visits that the Catholic Community Foundation’s impact on these organizations, and others that receive Community Priorities grants, is critical. “While the grants aren’t big, they make a big difference,” Jo says. “As Mother Theresa said, ‘start small with the people around you.’ That’s what we try to do. Start small and it will ripple out.”