A program of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), the Catholic Campaign for Human Development's (CCHD) Community Development Grant Program is focused on promoting the mission of Jesus Christ, "... to bring good news to the poor ...  release to captives ...  sight to the blind, and let the oppressed go free."  (Luke 4:18).   The Community Development Grant Program does this by supporting organizations that nurture the participation of people living in poverty to change structures and policies that affect their lives.

CCHD has developed policies, criteria, and guidelines to ensure that the goals of the USCCB will be respected and fulfilled through its funding efforts.  The criteria are used to evaluate whether an applicant is eligible for CCHD funding.The guidelines outline factors that CCHD will consider in making grant funding decisions. All CCHD applicants will be responsible for knowing CCHD's policies, satisfying CCHD eligibility criteria, and being familiar with CCHD guidelines.


501(c)(3) Status
CCHD will award community development grants only to organizations that have been recognized as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.  Organizations that have filed Form 1023 (Application for Recognition of Exemption under Section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code), with IRS may be considered for CCHD funding; however, any grant award would be conditioned upon receipt of an IRS exemption determination letter Prior to CCHD's funding deadline. 

Six-Year Policy
All organizations who have received a Community Development grant for any period of six or more years since 1997 are ineligible to apply to CCHD for a three-year period. This policy applies whether the organization received funding for six years on a continuous or an intermittent basis. It also applies whether the organization received funding for its current organizational structure, for leadership or formational initiatives, or for related organizations that preceded its current structure. After the three-year interval, these organizations will be eligible for funding requests for up to another six years before the same interval cycle will be repeated. Please contact the Grant Specialist in your geographic area to determine your eligibility for the current grant cycle.


  1. The applicant organization must be recognized by IRS, or have applied to IRS for recognition as exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3)  of the Internal Revenue Code.
  2. Applicant organizations must not participate in or promote activities that contradict the moral and social teachings of the Catholic Church and must in no way work against the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops' priorities to defend human life and dignity, strengthen family life and the institution of marriage, and foster diversity. For example, applicant organizations that support or promote same-sex marriage, discrimination, capital punishment, abortion, euthanasia, or punitive measures towards immigrants are not eligible for CCHD funding. 
  3. Organizations that receive CCHD funds may not participate or intervene in political campaigns on behalf of or in opposition to candidates for public office. Get Out the Vote (GOTV) activities and voter education efforts must be conducted in accord with IRS rules applicable to section 501(c)(3) organizations. 
  4. The organization's efforts must benefit people living in poverty:
    1. At least 50 percent of those benefiting from the organization's efforts must be people experiencing poverty. 
      1. Priorities of low-income people must be central to the organization's agenda and evidence of genuine solidarity and cooperation in overcoming poverty must be seen.
    2. People living in poverty must have the dominant voice in the organization. 
      1. A concrete way of assessing whether people living in poverty have the dominant voice in the organization is through governing board composition.  At least 50 percent of the members of the governing board of the applicant organization should be comprised of individuals who are involuntarily low-income.   CCHD will consider priests and religious who primarily serve low income people, parishes and communities and live in solidarity with their people in those communities as contributing to this goal. However, a governing board or organization made up exclusively or primarily of clergy and religious would not be considered a low-income board or organization for this purpose. 
      2. Another way of assessing whether people living in poverty have the dominant voice in an organization is by assessing the process and structure in place to nurture their participation.  Organizations must have, or demonstrate significant commitment towards developing, effective democratic structures and processes to ensure that low-income beneficiaries or members are central in decision-making. 
      3. Finally, evidence of leadership development processes that prepare low-income people to participate in leadership roles, such as the board, must be in place.  
  5. CCHD is concerned about the growth, development, and dignity of the individual person as well as the collective strengthening of the low income community. An organization seeking CCHD support must demonstrate ongoing leadership development, first because CCHD is committed to increasing the skills of individual low-income leaders as persons and second because ongoing training and leadership development is considered essential to the strength, depth, and sustainability of organizations.
  6. The applicant organization must demonstrate both the intention and the capacity to effectively work toward the elimination of the root causes of poverty and to enact institutional change. The organization's efforts should directly benefit a relatively large number of people, rather than a few individuals. CCHD defines institutional change as: 
    1. Modification of existing laws and/or policies;
    2. Establishment of participatory and just social structures and/or redistribution of decision-making powers so that people living in poverty are involved in policy-making that affects their lives. 
  7. The organization should demonstrate a clear vision for development of financial capacity that might include membership dues, grassroots fundraising, foundation, corporate support, and/or other strategies for fundraising.


  1. In an effort to more accurately measure the level of low-income participation in organizations, positive consideration will be given to organizations that use either the Very Low-Income or Low-Income household definition of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.  Please go to HUD.gov Datasets to look up your area's median income (AMI) and a measurement of both Very Low-Income Limits (50% of the AMI) and Low-Income Limits (80% of the AMI). While applicants may select either Very Low-Income (50% of AMI) or Low-Income (80% of AMI) as the standard by which to measure low-income participation, CCHD will give priority to those applicants who use the Very Low-Income (50% of AMI) standard. 
  2. Positive consideration will be given to organizations that work with persons directly experiencing economic or social injustice, i.e. racial or ethnic discrimination, handicapping or disabling conditions, long-term joblessness, and policies which break up poor families and particularly hurt low-income children, economic dislocation and disinvestment that undermine the ability to meet basic needs for them and their families.
  3. Positive consideration will be given to organizations that create or strengthen existing links to dioceses, parishes, religious communities, priests, deacons, and religious as well as Catholic Charities, schools, and other ministries. Organizations should consider how their activities reach out and involve the Catholic community.  Priority will be given to proposals which lead to greater diocesan and parish engagement with activities and participation in organizations which clearly carry out CCHD's mission and foundations. 
  4. Positive consideration will be given to organizations that generate cooperation among and within diverse groups, in the interest of a more integrated and mutually understanding society. 
  5. Positive consideration will be given to organizations that directly benefit a relatively large number of people, rather than a few individuals.

The following organizations are not eligible for CCHD Community Development funding:

  1. An organization that is exempt from federal income tax under a section of the Internal Revenue Code other than section 501(c)(3).
  2. An organization that engages in political campaign intervention prohibited under section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code.
  3. An organization that promotes or participates in activities that support principles contrary to Catholic Teaching or work against the USCCB's priorities to defend the life and dignity of all human persons, to strengthen family life and the institution of marriage, and to nurture diversity. 
  4. Organizations with primary focus on direct service (e.g. daycare centers, recreation programs, community centers, scholarships, subsidies, counseling programs, referral services, cultural enrichment programs, direct clinical services, emergency shelters and other services, refugee resettlement programs, etc.)
  5. Advocacy efforts where only staff, a few individuals, or middle to upper-income people are speaking for a particular low-income constituency without the direct involvement and leadership of low-income individuals.
  6. Organizations controlled by governmental (federal, state, local) bodies.
  7. Research projects, surveys, planning and feasibility studies, etc.
  8. Individually owned, for-profit businesses.
  9. Organizations that would use CCHD money for re-granting purposes or to fund other organizations.