Projects that conform to Church moral teaching and “innovatively address the basic causes of poverty and effect institutional change” are the focus of funding from the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, according to the Campaign's annual report. At least 50% of those benefiting from the project must come from a low-income community.

The funding process starts with an application that may be prescreened at the diocesan level, said Kent Peters, who presently serves as San Diego diocesan CCHD director in his capacity as director of the Office for Social Ministries. He came to that position last year after serving in a similar capacity from 1989 to 1997 in the Diocese of Duluth, Minn.

In Duluth, CCHD-funded projects for organizations focused on Church-based organizing, women's issues, homeless advocacy, and Native Americans.

“There was never — in San Diego or Duluth — a project that was close to questionable [in terms of adherence to Church teaching],” said Peters.

He pointed out that if an ordinary didn't like a project, funding would be pulled.

Peters explained that a new organization completes a pre-application used to screen such agencies according to prescribed guidelines. If the organization satisfies this first step, a full application is reviewed by a team at the diocesan level. The team's recommendations are forwarded to the national CCHD office and reviewed by an advisory committee. That panel makes recommendations to the CCHD bishops'committee, which makes the final decisions.

Here's a look at some Campaign recipients:

The Environmental Health Coalition (EHC) in San Diego received grants for two projects. Several years ago, CCHD funds helped start the program. The acronym SALTA stands for Salud Ambiental, Latinas Tomando Accion (Environmental Health, Latinas Taking Action). Women in two low-income neighborhoods were trained to be promotoras, environmental health promoters. The promotoras then recruit, train, and educate other women to recognize environmental health hazards and to teach other women about the dangers of potentially hazardous household cleaners and toxic pesticides.

In 1995-1996, EHC trained 18 promotoras who recruited more than 200 other women. One critical issue that SALTA tackles is children's exposure to lead, which can be found in pottery and dishes, in paint on houses built in the 1950s, and in some candy from Mexico, said Diane Takvorian, EHC executive director. The coalition's Lead Project also receive CCHD funds for activities including educational programs and free testing of children. The EHC says children under three are at most risk to contract lead poisoning. Risks include stunted mental and physical growth. Furthermore, exposure to pregnant women can lead to spontaneous abortions.

In the Chicago archdiocese, 20 organizations receive local and national funding, said Jim Lund, co-director of the Office for Peace and Justice. Funded organizations include Not Dead Yet, a group of disabled people fighting against physician-assisted suicide.

Also funded is the Resurrection Project in the Pilson neighborhood. The housing program targeted at Hispanics includes the purchase of lots in the city and construction of more than 100 homes.

Economic development is represented by the Academy Bakery. A CCHD grant was used to found the bakery where at-risk students from a poor neighborhood learn to run a business.

— Liz Swain

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