We Raise Foundation Awards Three Emerging Leader Grants - We Raise Foundation

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 November 30, 2019 with grants awarded in January 2020. For more information regarding grant requests, please visit the website at weraise.org/emergingleadergrants.

The newest Emerging Leader Grant recipients are:

Sarah Gray
Community Wellbeing Program
Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center, Columbus, Ohio

Leader Profile:
Sarah Gray has served as the executive director of Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center, Columbus, Ohio, since January 2018. She is passionate about healthcare and, more specifically, patient advocacy and leading the work of the Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center is her dream job. Gray graduated with a master of public administration from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn College of Public Affairs, Columbus, Ohio, in December 2017 while also earning a concentration in nonprofit management. She received her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Lafayette College, Easton, Pa.

Helping Hands

Project Summary:
Helping Hands Health and Wellness Center plans to create a new community wellbeing program that will incorporate elements from two of its current programs – the free care program and the tuberculosis (TB) skin testing program. Through the new community wellbeing program, the center will provide 20 patients with either a TB skin test or a physical exam or both every Tuesday with the goals of creating a one-stop-shop for pre-employment and pre-education care, expanding the clinic’s overall capacity for all of its programs, and creating a healthier uninsured and underinsured community.


Marcela Melendez

Marcela Melendez
Family and Individuals Towards Hope (FAITH)
Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange (GRACE), Grapevine, Texas

Leader Profile:
Marcela Melendez is the Client Services Manager at Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange (GRACE), Grapevine, Texas. In this role, she leads a team of caseworkers, volunteers, and interns in providing assistance to every individual that calls or comes through their doors. GRACE is a nonprofit relief agency that provides food, clothing, financial assistance, and other vital necessities to people who are struggling with a limited income or recent emergency. Prior to her position at GRACE, Melendez worked at Dallas Metrocare Services, providing case management to individuals and families. She holds both a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree in social work from Abilene Christian University, Abilene, Texas.

FAITH Grapevine

Project Summary:
Grapevine Relief and Community Exchange’s Family and Individuals Towards Hope (FAITH) program offers financial relief to families that are at risk of becoming homeless and coaches them to self-sufficiency through case management and varied client education offerings. During a family’s enrollment in FAITH, they receive financial assistance to pay rent, utilities, childcare, and transportation. Additionally, families receive non-monetary support offered through the GRACE continuum of care, including items such as clothing, groceries, toiletries, household goods, furnishings, and healthcare services.


Whittney Smith

Whittney Smith
LCDC 2-Flat Ownership Program
Lawndale Christian Development Corporation, Chicago, Ill.

Leader Profile:
Whittney Smith is the deputy director for Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC), Chicago, Ill., an organization working to revitalize and develop affordable housing in the North Lawndale community. Smith joined the staff in 2017 and leads the 2-flat initiative ownership program. A native of North Lawndale, she earned a bachelor’s degree in political science and international relations from Carleton College, Northfield, Minn. In May 2016, she earned a master of public policy from American University, Washington, D.C., and a juris doctor degree from American University, Washington College of Law. As an attorney in Washington D.C., she represented clients building community through banking, small business development, and direct service providing.


Project Summary:
Lawndale Christian Development Corporation (LCDC) aims to utilize the flexibility of 2-flat ownership to extend financial stability and create wealth for first-time homeowners. The goal is to renovate and sell at least four 2-flats by the end of 2020. Each property will be developed as a duplex, allowing owners to rent the second floor unit to secure additional income, which will help put families on the path to long-term wealth creation. The homeowners will be provided training and support on laws, policies, and best practices of landlord/tenant relations. Present and future homebuyers will also be empowered to advocate for themselves through the North Lawndale Homeowners Association. Additionally, the 2-flat ownership program will provide job experience and career exposure in construction trades to young men in North Lawndale. Each property will have at least 2-4 local apprentices, which will be drawn from local partners.


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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