CCHD is a program of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and has an appointed diocesan director in each of the more than 180 dioceses throughout the United States, Puerto Rico and the Virgin Islands. The “diocese” is an intermediate Catholic Church structure into which local Catholic communities, or parishes, are organized under the leadership and authority of a diocesan bishop. Each diocesan bishop designates a CCHD diocesan director who is responsible for the implementation of CCHD’s mission and program within the diocese; these tasks include the evaluation of applications for CCHD funding. Additionally, the review and endorsement of the local Ordinary is required before CCHD funds can be granted to applicant organizations planning activities that will take place within the respective diocese(s).
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Low Income Control
For the purposes of CCHD funding, the participation of poor people in the shaping and ongoing direction of organizations is a central criterion. Poor and low income people must have and maintain a strong voice in the organization’s leadership both in terms of its governance structure and policy decisions, especially through their direct participation in the board of directors.
Low income control also involves “ownership” of the processes within an organization and understanding of the community issues. Therefore, it is expected that at least 50 percent of the decision-making group or body for the organization or initiative be comprised of low-income persons. Members of the organization who come from the local community and/or geographical area being empowered should also be included.
CCHD's mission "is to address the root causes of poverty in the U.S." In Catholic Social Teaching, the causes of poverty are understood to be an aspect of "social sin" rooted in our social and economic structures and institutions. CCHD considers “institutional change” as that which addresses policies and operational structures of government, corporations, or private agencies that create poverty, keep people poor or impose injustice on poor people.
The following actions frequently are interpreted as “institutional change” but do not fit CCHD's definition of “institutional change”:
- Advocacy for an individual or many individuals resulting in a more just situation for the individual(s) but not changing the structure or official policy of the institution;
- Changes in attitudes of persons who provide services to poor people, but not affecting the government, corporate or agency policies and structures.
CCHD considers the initial and continual development of leaders to be a central component of their grant-making. Applicant organizations should demonstrate a strong track record and commitment to the ongoing development of leaders within the organization. Plans for training may include topics such as: social analysis, issue identification, elements of organizing, fundraising, board development, etc.
CCHD evaluates organizational development plans by assessing the capacity and track record of the applicant organization. Organizations applying for funding should demonstrate some experience and history related to the activities proposed for implementation. An organization may have an excellent track record in providing direct services to a very low income community, but this alone would not qualify to be effective at creating institutional changes. In addition to having a proven record of affecting institutional change, the applicant organization should demonstrate capacity in terms of its ability to raise and manage funds, the experience and involvement of its board members, collaboration with other institutions, and ability to grow its membership.
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