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Faith-Based Grants Aim to Close Equity Gaps in At-Risk Communities

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Food-distribution programs are eligible for the American Heart Association's Faith-Based Accelerator grants for worship groups on the East Coast. (Adobe stock)
Food-distribution programs are eligible for the American Heart Association's Faith-Based Accelerator grants for worship groups on the East Coast. (Adobe stock)
 By Diane Bernard - Producer, Contact
March 26, 2021

FAIRFAX, Va. - More and more people are turning to faith-based groups for help during the pandemic. In Virginia and other East Coast states, one organization is offering funding for faith-based community projects that address urgent needs and disparities from the impact of the health crisis.

The American Heart Association is awarding grants to religious groups with business models that help at-risk communities with poverty, food insecurity and other social issues that impact health outcomes.

In an online forum about the new grant, the Rev. Leroy Miles of ENON Tabernacle Baptist Church in Philadelphia presented his church's annual "Know Your Numbers" health screening day as an example of the kind of projects eligible for the grant.

This year, the day was even more vital as many have missed health screenings during the pandemic.

"We set up in our parking lot and persons drove through," said Miles. "They were able to receive a take-home colon screening kit, HIV screenings. And our nurses' ministry, they are doing blood-pressure checks."

Applications for the Faith-Based Accelerator are open until April 30 and available to East Coast places of worship from Vermont to Virginia. Go to empoweredtoserve.org for more information.

Bishop Abraham Shanklin is the executive director of the Center for Transformation church in Maryland.

He has been emphasizing forming more partnerships to help church members with feelings of isolation. Those partnerships led to a food-distribution service - another model for funding.

"That's why we were able to feed 1,200 people per week," said Shanklin, "and continue to do that having distributed over 50,000 pounds of food because of local partnerships."

People facing hunger insecurity in Virginia skyrocketed during the pandemic from almost 10% in February of 2020 to more than 22% of the population in June.

The Faith-Based Accelerator grants total $105,000 for faith institutions and leaders with business models for at-risk communities.

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