We Raise Foundation Awards Three Emerging Leader Grants

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We Raise Foundation recently awarded three Emerging Leader Grants totaling $45,000. Emerging Leader Grants are an investment in the development of leaders between the ages of 20-35 at Christian organizations who are leading new programs at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality.

Each Emerging Leader Grantee receives $15,000 over two years with $10,000 supporting the program and $5,000 supporting leadership development. This leadership development includes attendance at a Leadership Fundamentals conference through The Center for Creative Leadership; attendance at the Global Leadership Summit through satellite locations; and individualized leadership coaching. Grantees also receive an invitation to attend the annual Emerging Leader Convening in Chicago, hosted and paid for by We Raise Foundation; free attendance for all We Raise webinars; and promotion and networking within the We Raise community.

Proposals for the Emerging Leader Grant Program are accepted year-round with grants awarded quarterly. The next deadline is May 31, 2019 with grants awarded in July. For more information regarding grant requests, please visit the website at weraise.org/emergingleadergrants.

The newest Emerging Leader Grant recipients are:

Heather Johnson
Peace, Justice, and Prosperity in North Lawndale
St. Agatha Catholic Church, Chicago, Ill.

Leader Profile:
Heather Johnson serves as a parent coordinator at St. Agatha Catholic Church, Chicago, Ill. In this role, she engages with parents throughout the North Lawndale community in a variety of ways including monthly meetings to share needs and concerns, family events featuring fun “parents vs. kids” competitions and opportunities to meet other families from the community, and resource sharing regarding employment, housing, food, and expungements. She does this all while sharing the love of Christ with them. She is also a fitness instructor/personal trainer, providing free training to those in need in the community, and is an assistant to her husband who runs a youth boxing league. As an early teen, Heather started working with St. Agatha Family Empowerment as a mentor, and later became a supervisor.

Project Summary:
St. Agatha Catholic Church’s “Peace, Justice, and Prosperity in North Lawndale” project will expand the use of restorative justice practices throughout the community, with a special focus on parents as leaders in their family and in the community, at-risk youth, and those involved in the justice system. The goal is to lower the crime, violence, and incarceration rates and create positive opportunities, to support people on their journey, and to strengthen the North Lawndale community. Currently, St. Agatha’s restorative justice work with parents includes many different programs with many community partners. This includes the first Restorative Justice Court, Cook Country Jail, and Juvenile Detention Center.

Bantu Gross
Fathers Matter Center
Compassion Outreach of America, New Orleans, La.

Leader Profile:
Bantu D. Gross, Ph.D., currently serves as an alumni advisor at KIPP (Knowledge is Power Program) New Orleans Schools, New Orleans, La. As an alumni advisor, he helps first generation students persist through college to graduation. He is currently collaborating with a Louisiana college to develop its African American male retention and graduation program. Additionally, Bantu is partnering with Compassion Outreach of America (COA) to develop a parenting education center specifically for African American fathers in New Orleans. He became interested in fatherhood education after seeing, hearing, and learning about the disparities African American fathers face, how they are viewed by society, and the negative commentary used when describing this population. Prior to joining the KIPP New Orleans staff, Bantu served as a mental health professional with 10+ years of experience working with adolescents and young adults from diverse populations and backgrounds.

Project Summary:
The research is clear – fathers matter in the lives of their children. A father’s engagement and interaction with his children promotes healthy physical, emotional, social, academic, and spiritual development. However, there are challenges many dads must overcome to fully embrace fatherhood and the responsibilities that accompany this role. In New Orleans, nearly half of all African American children live in poverty due to their family’s household income; employment rates for African American men have fallen from 63% in 1980 to 56% at present. Men who suffer financial strain or unstable employment are less likely to be involved in their children’s lives. To better support African American fathers, the Fathers Matter Center, an initiative of Compassion Outreach of America, will provide fathers with a variety of support, skills, and resources including parenting education, leadership training, and mental health services.

Amy Knop-Narbutis
Ascend
Upbring, Austin, Texas

Leader Profile:
Amy Knop-Narbutis has served as a research analyst for Upbring’s statewide child welfare programming since 2014. In her role, headquartered in Austin, Texas, she seeks innovative opportunities to use thought leadership and data to advance Upbring’s mission of breaking the cycle of child abuse. She has trained as a results-based facilitator through Lutheran Services in America/Annie E. Casey Foundation, an emerging leader through Leadership Austin, and as a “leader with heart” with the American Heart Association. Amy came to Upbring from The University of Texas at Austin, where she graduated top of her master’s program in policy studies and social program evaluation. She previously served as a Fulbright grantee in Costa Rica, worked with microfinance recipients in Peru, and with Fair Trade artisans in Ecuador. Amy is highly involved in her local community and actively volunteers with the refugee center Casa Marianella, Communities in Schools, and the Ending Community Homelessness Coalition.

Project Summary:
Upbring’s mission is to break the cycle of child abuse by empowering children, families, and communities. Ascend is an emerging, research-informed program designed by Upbring to reduce rates of intergenerational child maltreatment among children in foster care. Following an in-depth research review of risk factors for child abuse and neglect, Upbring identified five key markers of wellbeing – health, safety, vocation, education, and life skills. When adequately addressed, these five key markers become a powerful, protective force for children in foster care. The Ascend model works to connect children to community partners that bolster their resources in these areas and prepare them for a future free of abuse and neglect.

About We Raise Foundation
We Raise Foundation identifies innovative ideas, people, and programs that raise consciousness, community leadership, and capital. Motivated by the belief that freedom is grace in action (Galatians 5:1a), We Raise provides grants and assistance with resource development to organizations that work at the intersection of poverty, violence, and inequality. We Raise supports Christian nonprofit organizations and emerging leaders and has a preference for funding solutions within the areas of education, workforce development, and criminal justice. To learn more, please visit weraise.org. You can also find We Raise on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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