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ABHMS’ CIP grant leads to federal funds for program to serve children of incarcerated parents

CIP Grant Mentoring

The story of a Rochester, N.Y.-area ministry partnership may provide incentive for ministries that are considering applying for a Children in Poverty (CIP) grant from American Baptist Home Mission Societies (ABHMS). Not only did the partnership receive a CIP grant to implement a mentoring program for children of incarcerated parents, but the funding resulted in a larger, multi-year federal grant.

Volunteers of America (VOA) of Western New York (WNY) approached American Baptist Churches Rochester/Genesee Region (ABCRGR) about partnering to implement and operate a Mentoring Children of Promise (MCP) program. To help fund the program, ABHMS awarded a Children in Poverty (CIP) grant to ABCRGR. As a result of the CIP funding, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families (ACF) has awarded VOAWNY an additional $208,595 per year for three years for the MCP program.

“The [CIP] grant was a key factor in the success of VOA[WNY] receiving the federal grant,” says the Rev. Alan G. Newton, executive minister of ABCRGR. “Community support was a key factor. ABCRGR and VOA[WNY] have signed a joint memorandum of understanding in the development of this program.”

He further explains that federal agencies often require grantees to demonstrate collaborative efforts, community partnerships and in-kind or community financial support.

The ACF grant provides for 60 volunteers at least aged 18 to mentor children and youth aged 4-18 who have a parent serving time in a state or federal correctional facility. Mentors undergo background checks and are screened regarding their preferences and experiences so that they are appropriately matched with a child or youth identified by a school, child care center or other program, such as Angel Tree. Each mentor-mentee pair will spend one-on-one time in such activities as going to a movie, visiting a local park or attending a school sporting event two to four times monthly.

“Ideally, the most important time would be spent building a relationship and assuring the child there will be support,” says Newton, who will put his 20 years of mentoring experience to use as an MCP mentor.

Citing the example of three high school students, whom he's been mentoring since the youth were in elementary school, Newton maintains that a caring, supportive adult mentor can make a positive difference in the life of an at-risk child or youth. “When we started, they had no goals and didn't believe that they could succeed in school,” he says. Today, “they have hopes for college, and I pray that it happens for them.”

Representatives of six ABCRGR churches attended a recent informational breakfast event to learn about the program, and mentor training began in February 2011. Several VOA offices across the United States have been running MCP programs since 2003.

For more information about CIP grants or to apply for one, visit ABHMS' CIP Web page or contact the Rev. Lisa Harris, ABHMS national coordinator of the CIP Initiative and Christian Center Relations, at lisa.harris@abhms.org or 800-222-3872, x2158. CIP grant applications for 2011 must be received by ABHMS no later than April 29, 2011.

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