The National Committee on the Self-Development of People of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) has approved grants totaling $142,948 to seven self-help projects in the United States.

Money for the grants comes from the PC(USA)’s One Great Hour of Sharing (OGHS) offering.

SDOP, funded primarily through the OGHS offering, enables members and non-members of the PC (USA) to establish partnerships with economically poor, oppressed and disadvantaged people in order to help them achieve sufficiency.

Grants were approved at a meeting of SDOP’s National Committee Sept. 19 in Seattle.

Projects funded range from helping a farmer’s cooperative purchase watering equipment and start-up seed for a greenhouse to a capacity building project in which immigrant women learn English and advocacy, leadership and job-procurement skills.

Groups awarded funds at the meeting:

  • Homeless United for Change, Springfield, IL: $20,000 to assist a group of homeless citizens and supporters build an advocacy organization that will impact their future. Components include leadership development/training and community education and involvement.
  • The Day Worker Center of Mountain View, Mountain View, CA: $40,000 to enable a Day Worker Center to advocate for social justice, engage in community outreach and support a worker-made documentary video in collaboration with a local TV channel.
  • Central El Paso Human Rights Committee, El Paso, TX: $16,848 to assist women and families with child care so they can attend meetings to learn about their human and constitutional rights.
  • People’s Farmers Cooperative, Nesmith, SC: $20,000 to help a farmer’s cooperative purchase watering equipment and start-up seed for a greenhouse that was gived to the group.
  • Community Action Group, Miami, FL: $16,100 to enable a group of Haitian men and women gain financial knowledge to overcome obstacles that keep them economically poor. Group members want to gain knowledge in personal and business finance and eventually start cooperatives to improve their economic condition.
  • Cooperative Economics for Women, Revere, MA: $20,000 for a capacity building project in which immigrant women learn English and advocacy, leadership and job-procurement skills. They are also learning about domestic violence prevention, immigrant rights and educational advocacy.
  • HUD Tenants Coalition, Newark, NJ: $30,000 to assist a coalition of tenant leaders from privately owned, government-assisted buildings representing 40 housing complexes with 7,000 residents. These leaders meet to share common concerns and exchange information on available technical assistance and training, information and support and to develop individual and collective strategies for action that will improve housing conditions and preserve their buildings as affordable housing.

Guests invited to the meeting were Toni Carver-Smith, associate director of Compassion, Peace and Justice; the Rev. Dennie Carcelli, former SDOP West Partnership advocate;  Bethany Furkin, Presbyterian News Service reporter; and Valerie Small, manager for General Assembly nominations.

Also invited to the meeting was Monica Peabody, executive director of Parents Organizing for Welfare and Economic Rights (POWER), a group previously funded by the SDOP National Committee. The group of single parents was awarded more than $14,000 in 2002 to assist in developing training programs that enabled group members to become spokespeople about welfare and family support programs. Trained group members tell their stories about real-life problems and situations to varied audiences in order to improve care giving and the valuing of families in our society.

In other business:

  • SDOP hosted a community workshop for community-based groups interested in learning about possible future partnerships.
  • The National Committee approved $99,745 for the International Task Force to allocate to groups it is working with in the Dominican Republic, Liberia and Sierra Leone. The Liberia and Sierra Leone projects are part of the West Africa Initiative, a collaborative effort involving three offices of the PC(USA) — SDOP, Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Hunger Program. By the end of the year, SDOP’s work in the Dominican Republic will result in more than 7,000 people having access to clean water.

SDOP has awarded grants totaling more than $740,000 in 2009.