Grants offer ‘hand up, not handout’ to worthy organizations

| Beth Blair | November 4, 2015 | 0 Comments
Intern Taran Feather, left, works on a screen printing project with help from instructor Kara Gregory Oct. 26 at Elpis Enterprises in St. Paul, which receives funds from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. This year’s collection in parishes is Nov. 21-22. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

Intern Taran Feather, left, works on a screen printing project with help from instructor Kara Gregory Oct. 26 at Elpis Enterprises in St. Paul, which receives funds from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development. This year’s collection in parishes is Nov. 21-22. Dave Hrbacek/The Catholic Spirit

At age 19, Jessyca Macklin was homeless and jobless due to a domestic abuse situation. That changed after she started working at Elpis Enterprises, St. Paul nonprofit created to provide job training, work experience and job placement for homeless or precariously-housed young people ages 16-23.

Annually, Elpis offers approximately 30 paid internships for three to six months in several areas, including screen printing, woodworking, office management, and sales and marketing, said Paul Ramsour, executive director of Elpis Enterprises.

“Interns develop job placement material and are helped with post-program job placement,” he said.

For Macklin, 31, what could have turned into a cycle of poverty ended up being an inspiring new beginning.

“Working at Elpis provided me with an income, and as a result, I was able to get my own studio apartment at a transitional living facility,” Macklin said.

Elpis also gave her the resources and referrals she needed to start college and then find a well-paying position with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board.

Macklin eventually moved into her own apartment and continued to advance in her screen printing career. She came full circle when she began training other youth at Elpis.

She became a certified printer through the American Screen Printing Association, noting that when she first started at Elpis she knew nothing about the field. This summer she relocated to Colorado and was hired at a large print shop.

“At first, I was nervous about the size of the operation and whether or not I could handle it all, but within two months, I became the manager,” said Macklin, who credits Elpis. “Working at Elpis taught me how to be a good employee, gave me the opportunity to work on my people and communication skills, and [taught me] how to be a good supervisor.”

Elpis, Greek for “hope,” is a two-time grant recipient from the annual Catholic Campaign for Human Development, the U.S. Catholic bishops’ anti-poverty program. Grants focus on community and economic development. Funds are raised nationally with an annual parish collection, this year Nov. 21-22.

One-fourth of the funds collected stay in the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis for local projects, including Elpis, which has received about $37,000 to date.

At Elpis, Ramsour noted that support from the community is necessary for young people to complete the training program, gather credentials and successfully obtain placement in future employment and educational opportunities.

Other local grantees are All Parks Alliance for Change, an organization for mobile home park residents; and La Asamblea de Derechos Civiles, which forms and supports immigrant leaders.

National grants are also available and currently aid three local nonprofits: Centro de Trabajadores Unidos en Lucha, an organization of low-wage workers; the Hmong American Farmers Association, which advocates for Hmong farmers and their families; and the East Side Neighborhood Development Corporation, which supports economic development on St. Paul’s East Side.

The CCHD “works to break the cycle of poverty by helping low-income people participate in decisions that affect their lives, families and communities,” according to the CCHD application. “CCHD offers a hand up, not a handout.”

“That statement is critical,” said CCHD board co-chair Anna Verhoye, a parishioner of St. Ambrose in Woodbury, “as it speaks to the heart of CCHD that is helping empower those who have been marginalized, oppressed and rendered voiceless by unjust systems and structures.”

Matt Higgins, CCHD board co-chair, said organizations apply or re-apply for grants each year. The entire board reviews the applications and lays the groundwork for interviews with prospective grant recipients.

“The organization [grant recipient] cannot engage in any activities that contradict fundamental Catholic moral and social teaching, including any other groups who fund them,” said Higgins, a parishioner of St. Vincent de Paul in Brooklyn Park.

Local grants are administered locally through Catholic Charities.

More information about CCHD grants

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