The Center for the Study of Religion and the City in Baltimore recently partnered with the team at Plantation Park Heights Urban Farm to build an outdoor kitchen. This effort is just one example of how an ongoing program of the Henry Luce Foundation is supporting faith groups and nonprofits keen to address the challenges of COVID-19.
At the onset of the pandemic, the Luce Foundation focused on helping longtime partners and their communities. The Foundation’s religion and theology program recently selected a number of grantees whose work engages and supports communities at risk.
The program has supported more than 130 local organizations across the United States and has two main components. First, it provides direct support to community partners responding to the pandemic. And second, leaders support efforts to document the experiences of the communities they serve.
One example is the Borderlands Institute, which is housed at the Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth, Texas. Bright has distributed grants to established nonprofit and religious organizations that serve immigrant communities on both sides of the U.S.-Mexico border.
“These people were at greater risk of infection with COVID-19 and, therefore, of losing their jobs and, in many cases, of being detained or deported from the country when they could be carriers of the virus” , said Dr Francisco Lozada, director of Borderlands. Institute.
The Public Religion Research Institute provided a space and framework for program grantees to share best practices and discuss the challenges they encountered.
In terms of outreach, Arizona State University’s Center for the Study of Religion and Conflict has supported partnerships between media mentors and journalism students who have lost internships and jobs due to the closure of the economy. Together, they have raised the public profile of communities whose stories are not often told in the press, such as farm workers, Native Americans, incarcerated people and migrants. The group has created a multimedia archive that documents the impact of COVID-19.
According to Robert Jones, CEO of the Public Religion Research Institute, the emergency grants have helped lay the groundwork for a new “Initiative for Religion and Democracy Renewal” which is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation and the Andrew Foundation. W. Mellon.