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The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU) and the Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD), which is the domestic, anti-poverty program of the U.S. Catholic bishops, work together to encourage partnerships between Catholic colleges and universities and CCHD. Here are some examples of successful partnerships that help Catholic colleges live out their mission, while increasing CCHD's capacity to fulfill the Gospel mandate to bring good news to the poor (Luke 4:18). If you would like to pursue a partnership, contact us.
St. John University's multi-year relationship with the Don Bosco Workers (DBW), a local organization funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development, has helped the university live out its Vincentian charism. DBW is a ground-up community organizing group that advocates for workers and economic justice. Each year, workers associated with DBW visit students in the Catholic Social Teaching course, engaging them around issues of wage theft and local worker justice. In 2016, the class presented their research on fair trade initiatives in major industries at SJU's inaugural Solidarity Festival. The Festival entailed a full day of presentations, featuring DBW in a panel on wage theft, social justice artwork, SJU Fair Trade, SJU CRS Ambassadors, and GLOBE, SJU's academic program on microfinancing, and economics students' research on forced labor in Brazil. The day ended with a Mass for worker justice. According to Dr. Meghan Clark, assistant professor of Theology and Religious Studies at SJU, the campus-community partnership helps students conceptualize the answer to the Vincentian question, "What must be done?" with respect to wage theft and exploitation of day laborers.
For many, poverty can seem like a distant problem, something that does not affect our daily experiences—yet it is a daily reality for at least 47 million people in the U.S., or about one in every six people. To help students understand this reality and local work to address it, diocesan CCHD staff worked with the University of Dallas to offer a Journey to Justice (J2J) Day, or experiential retreat, to help students learn about poverty in Dallas and our Catholic response. The J2J Day incorporated resources from Poverty USA and featured the Texas Tenant Union (TTU), which receives funding from CCHD. TTU is a community group that seeks more and better low-income housing. It provides free legal counsel and rights education for low-income tenants, and organizes those tenants to seek changes in legislation around low-income housing. The J2J Day helped students become aware of and involved in local efforts to address poverty, providing one avenue for them to live out their Catholic identity and commitment to social justice.
Thanks to the collaborative efforts of Xavier University students and faculty, along with CCHD-funded group Interfaith Business Builders, Cincinnati is preparing to welcome its first worker-owned cooperative coffee shop. IBB works to develop and promote co-ops in low income Cincinnati neighborhoods, such as Evanston, where Xavier University is located. Xavier students and professors partnered with IBB, the community and the members of the co-op to develop Community Blend. Students helped to develop portions of the business plan as part of their coursework, while Xavier’s Community Building Institute helped promote community participation. Community Blend will serve Evanston residents and Xavier students, selling Fair Trade and locally made products, ensuring a living wage for workers, artisans, and farmers. The venture also gives Xavier business students an opportunity to gain experience and give back to the community. This partnership serves the good of Cincinnati, embodies the Jesuit and Catholic mission of Xavier, and promotes solidarity across communities locally and globally.
The St. Thomas University Center for Justice and Peace leverages the university’s teaching and research resources into community-led social justice projects in their region. As part of this work they have developed a strong relationship with groups funded by the Catholic Campaign for Human Development - both locally in the Archdiocese of Miami, as well as in the farmworker communities of Central Florida.
Locally, a partnership was created with People Acting for Community Together (PACT), South Florida’s largest faith-based community organizing coalition. The university has offered for-credit internships in faith-based community organizing, has integrated introductory ethics and theology courses to PACT’s work, and has recently begun to put the social-science research capabilities of the university at the service of PACT’s policy advocacy efforts. With the support of the university, PACT has established the Mentoring and Induction for New Teachers (MINT) program, has gained the City of Miami’s pledge to improve its drug problem, has increased security at inner-city schools, and more.
Similarly, in Central Florida, the Center has partnered with the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW), a long-time CCHD funded group, and one of the leading grassroots farmworker organizations in the United States. The Center has supported full 3-credit immersion courses focused on the intersection of Catholic Social Thought, immigration and farm labor, as well as integrative course-units where faculty address farm labor issues from the theoretical lens of a variety of disciplines. In one example from this Fall 2012, students from two communications courses are partnering with the CIW to produce radio and video public service announcements that will be used to further the farmworkers’ advocacy campaigns. These successful projects have built a strong relationship between the university and its surrounding community, educating students on Catholic Social Thought and their ability to initiate social change, while also supporting social-justice initiatives in a concrete way. By integrating class-room learning with community-identified needs, they have been able to enhance their learning while putting Catholic Social Thought into action for a better world.
When someone makes a donation to the annual CCHD Collection, that person connects to the Campaign’s mission to feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and let the oppressed go free (Luke 4:18). Because of the efforts of Edith, a former intern for the Archdiocese of Portland, the University of Portland now participates in the CCHD Annual Collection at the campus Mass on Sunday before Thanksgiving. Promoting the Collection at Catholic college and university chapels is a great way to connect Catholic higher education to the Church’s mission of fostering life and dignity, justice and peace.
Faculty members at the Catholic University of America, Dr. Linda Plitt-Donaldson of the National Catholic School of Social Service and Rev. Anthony Pogorelc, S.S., of Theological College, hosted an event aimed at connecting students and faculty with the community organizing work of CCHD. The event featured an overview of CCHD’s history, a panel of local community organizers from CCHD-funded groups, an address on the current challenges to community organizing, and a time for participants and community groups to network and discuss possibilities for future collaboration putting Catholic Social Thought into action for a better world.
Working with CCHD in the Archdiocese of Baltimore, the campus ministry at Loyola University Maryland sponsored a 7 part speaker series on the themes of Catholic Social Teaching in action. The speaker series connected the themes of Catholic Social Teaching to a broad range of topics, from the rights and responsibilities of youth in inner city Baltimore, to the life and dignity of victims of human trafficking, to unemployment and the rights of workers. The series featured speakers from community groups, including those supported by CCHD, and successfully raised student awareness on the themes of Catholic Social Teaching and the ways to incorporate those themes into their own lives. "May the eyes of [your] hearts be enlightened, that you may know what is the hope that belongs to his call," Ephesians 1:18.
Hands Across the World, a CCHD-funded group committed to teaching and aiding the newcomer immigrant populations of St. Cloud, hosted a human trafficking awareness event detailing the atrocity of human trafficking, which enslaves more than 30 million people worldwide. Shocked and astounded by this reality, a group of St. Cloud State University students decided to form a student group to raise awareness on campus and in the community about human trafficking, prostitution, and the negative effects of pornography. Students give presentations on human trafficking at the university, in high schools, and at conferences and churches. The students are also involved in legislative advocacy to end trafficking. Through their education and advocacy work, the students at St. Cloud State University are fighting to break the binding chains of sexual exploitation in the spirit of Luke 4:18.
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