ABHMS Children in Poverty grant-recipient church operates successful feeding ministry

April 27 is deadline for 2016 grant applications

fc_heritagebchurch_CIPGrant_200wHeritage Baptist Church, Annapolis, Md., has been nourishing children and families with healthy food through its “Blessings in a Backpack” ministry since 2009. And American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS) has been happy to play a part by supporting the ministry though a Justice for Children Initiative Children in Poverty (CiP) grant.

“When I visited Heritage Baptist, volunteers showed me a pantry well-stocked with packaged goods and boxes of fresh fruit ready for weekly distribution to 75 children at two elementary schools,” says the Rev. Lisa Harris Lee, ABHMS national coordinator of the Justice for Children Initiative.

Lee points out that, as with most other grant recipients, Heritage Baptist has found that the number of children participating in its program has grown yearly.

“The number of children in need of support keeps increasing,” she says.

The CiP grant has been supporting the child-empowering projects of American Baptist congregations and related organizations since 2009. In seven years, $372,000 has been awarded to 90 projects that have sought to improve children’s math and literacy skills, provide nutrition and basic needs, raise awareness of children’s needs, prepare youth for college, provide English as a Second Language classes and job training for parents, address bullying and partner with schools to benefit children.

ABHMS is committed to providing CiP grants, which are funded through the America for Christ Offering and other ministry income. In addition, individuals and congregations have contributed to provide additional CiP grants.

At least 10 grants ranging from $1,000 to $5,000 each will be awarded to projects that address access to quality public school education, access to quality health care and livable wages.

“We recognize that the grant amount is small relative to the need, but applicants have creatively used the grant to leverage other funding opportunities and to enhance the efforts of volunteers,” says Lee. “Recipients appreciate the recognition by and partnership with ABHMS as much as they appreciate the grant.”

CiP grants are only one aspect of ABHMS’ Justice for Children Initiative that began in 2006. The initiative also includes the five-part study “Children, Poverty and the Bible,” available for use in Christian education classes, retreats and other groups. Also concurrent with the CiP grant has been The Penny Project, a nationwide effort to raise 15 million pennies for children in need throughout the United States and Puerto Rico. Nearly 11 million pennies have been gathered since the project began in 2009. ABHMS strives to reach the goal by August 2016. Additional ongoing advocacy efforts have been related to childhood hunger and health care. New efforts to address the needs of our most vulnerable children will be forthcoming.

“Children in Poverty grants are one more way American Baptists have demonstrated a commitment to make a difference in the lives of innocent children who, simply because of the circumstances of their birth, are burdened by the challenges and limitations of poverty,” says the Rev. Dr. Marilyn P. Turner, ABHMS associate executive director of Missional Life and Leadership. “Since ABHMS began providing these grants, our regional, local church and community-based ministry partners have used them to change the lives of literally thousands of children in rural, urban and suburban United States and Puerto Rico.”

April 27, 2016, is the deadline to apply for a 2016 Justice for Children Initiative CiP grant. The grant application is available online.