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$132K will help Gulf Coast community groups

December grants from UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund assist childcare, community leadership groups.
By Donald E. Skinner

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In meetings December 12 and 19, the Unitarian Universalist Association-UU Service Committee Gulf Coast Relief Fund panel approved four grants totaling $132,560 to organizations in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The panel granted $60,000 to the Jeremiah Group, which is working in metropolitan New Orleans to help residents have a voice in planning and rebuilding, and to develop community leaders.

This is the second grant for this group. It received its first grant from the UUA-UUSC panel in March 2006 to work on housing and job strategies and advocacy for evacuees’ right to return. This latest grant will expand the group’s capacity to organize community leaders to work on issues that enable low- and middle-income families to return to New Orleans and rebuild their lives. Specifically it will recruit and train new community leaders in Bienville, Carrollton, Treme, and Central City. It will focus largely on affordable housing issues.

The panel awarded $35,000 to Coastal Women for Change. The group will use the money to provide childcare to lower-income families. It will provide childcare for four months for 20 to 30 children on the Mississippi Gulf Coast until other programs can be established to help satisfy the need for safe childcare.

Coastal Women for Change is a group of women of color in Biloxi, Miss., who are working to ensure that lower-income residents will play a role in the redevelopment of communities on the Gulf Coast. CWC is particularly concerned with the right to adequate housing, but is also focusing on other issues women of color face, such as childcare. This is its second grant from the panel. In September 2006 it was granted $30,652 to address the same issues.

The panel granted $30,000 to Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative, a statewide organization of childcare providers, parents, and communities, who are working to increase the quantity and quality of childcare in Mississippi for lower-income families. The Initiative is lobbying for increases in federal funds to benefit low-income families and is researching ways to support childcare for Gulf Coast families, including how operation costs could be shared among childcare centers.

A grant of $7,560 was made to UU congregations in Mississippi to create and broadcast ads on Mississippi Public Broadcasting promoting Unitarian Universalism. There will be two prime-time ads each week directing listeners to a common website that will have links to each of the congregations’ websites. The six congregations in Mississippi will match the grant. The Our Home Universalist Unitarian congregation in Ellisville had such a program in 2006, made possible by a donation from a member.

As of the end of 2006, approximately $2.5 million of the UUA-UUSC Gulf Coast Relief Fund had been distributed or promised. Approximately $1 million remains.

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