In November of each year, the Diocese of Orange takes up a special annual collection called the National Needs Collection, which combines the collections for the Catholic Communication Campaign, the Catholic University of America, and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD). CCHD is dedicated to breaking the cycle of poverty in the U.S. by funding community programs that encourage independence. For over 40 million Americans, there is a thin line between eviction and home, between hunger and health, between unemployment and work, between anxiety and stability. For a family of four, this “Poverty Line” is $21,834 a year (U.S. Census Bureau, 2009). Our generous donations are essential to CCHD’s success.
Criticism was leveled at CCHD a few years ago, based on its funding of some groups which were found to be supporting positions that were in conflict with Catholic teaching. As a result, the U.S. Catholic Bishops launched a program of Review and Renewal for CCHD, and have been making steady progress in carrying out those commitments. They thoroughly investigated reported conflicts, and swiftly cut off funds to groups that violated CCHD requirements after receiving a grant. CCHD relies on the evaluation, approval and monitoring of local bishops and Catholic dioceses regarding groups in their communities, and welcomes all legitimate questions and concerns. Catholics can be assured CCHD is faithful and diligent in its efforts to ensure that CCHD funds are not used to fund organizations or activities in conflict with Catholic teaching, but rather to advance its mission “to bring good news to the poor, liberty to captives, new sight to the blind and to set the downtrodden free.” (Luke 4: 16-22)
CCHD gives 25% of the donations collected to the local Dioceses to make grants to local organizations, and uses 75% of donations to make larger grants at a national level. One recent national grant was presented to OCCCO, a faith-based community organization in Anaheim working to strengthen families and improve neighborhoods. According to their web site, OCCCO does three things through relationship-building: (1) develop local leaders through provision of training, tools, and coaching; (2) shape public policy through research and public meetings within local communities; and (3) encourage leaders to act on their core beliefs, putting faith in action. As an example, OCCCO has now worked for over a year to urge the Anaheim City Council to pass the 5 Year Homeless and At-Risk Initiative, a policy document written and developed entirely by the group. The plan makes 15 policy recommendations to the council, including the creation of a Homeless Outreach Team that teams mental health clinicians and PD, the creation of a ‘safe haven’ for the provision of services, and the construction of a multi-service center with resources (like showers) and housing for people experiencing homelessness. OCCCO also recently orchestrated a successful collaborative campaign that spurred Anaheim City leadership to invest in the development of 1,500 new affordable housing units, many for low and very-low income families.
Local CCHD grants in 2011 went to Orangethorpe Learning Center (OLC) and Mika Community Development Corporation. Mika’s grant was for expansion of neighborhood development projects in Costa Mesa for impoverished people by identifying leaders in its target market, selecting common community goals, becoming agents of change and transformation, serving as role-models for younger generations and ultimately taking full ownership of the future of their neighborhoods and communities with the support of the City of Costa Mesa.