Catholic Foundation looks to measure evangelization, community impact in grant awards (VIDEO)

DETROIT — The Catholic Foundation of Michigan celebrated its first year of empowering Catholic parishes and ministries with its grant awards celebration last month at the Detroit Athletic Club.

Twenty-three Catholic parishes, schools and nonprofits were on hand Dec. 11 to receive grants from Catholic Foundation of Michigan, which gave away nearly $1 million in its first year, including $90,000 through its granting process.

“What we are doing is offering a shallow point of entry for individuals who want to be philanthropic,” said Angela Moloney, president and CEO of Catholic Foundation of Michigan. 

The Catholic Foundation of Michigan instituted a grant-writing workshop for Catholic organizations, allowing them to be more competent and confident when it comes to competing for donor dollars. 

Anthony Schena is the chairman of the foundation's Grant and Impact Committee. The committee reviewed 60 applications from ministries seeking funding for various projects and missions to expand their footprint in the community.

“We looked at the sustainability of each program that applied, the partners involved and how they are ‘Unleashing the Gospel’ within the community and how many people would be impacted by the program once executed,” Schena said. “If they had a solid program, a budget that was well worked out and a lot of thought put into the program, it would be something the committee would approve for funding.”

In addition to the grant process, the Catholic Foundation of Michigan said it is striving to be conduit for long-term giving, establishing endowment funds for parishes, schools and ministries to create sustainable sources of income.

“For a majority of Catholics, we haven’t thought long term in our giving; it is a week to week thing,” Moloney said. “The thing about creating these long-term funds is it sustains our parishes for a long period of time, and it creates something people feel comfortable donating to, knowing it will be around for a while. Our goal is to have 100 percent of our Catholic churches with an endowment, to ensure they always have a secured source of funding, which invites people to give and continue our granting program.”

Fr. Dan Jones is a full-time professor at Sacred Heart Major Seminary and pastor of Our Lady of the Rosary Parish in Midtown Detroit, a ministry of the Detroit Oratory-In-Formation.

Our Lady of the Rosary received a grant from the Catholic Foundation to hire a communications director to better connect the upstart oratory with the booming Midtown area.

“Part of the whole ‘Unleash the Gospel’ mission call is to reach out to those directly around us,” Fr. Jones said. “There are a lot of young people moving into Midtown Detroit, and one of things we’d like to do is reach out and evangelize.

“You can live your whole life in the same area, but still have no intersection with anyone else in the area,” Fr. Jones continued. “We have big student population with the College of Creative Studies right next to us and Wayne State down the street, so with a communications director, we’re hoping to revamp our online communications and other kinds of outreach in letting people know we are here, encouraging them to catch fire for their faith.”

After the inaugural grant awards celebration, Moloney is optimistic about the Catholic Foundation of Michigan’s ability to empower parishes to be more confident in pursing grants and securing the financial future of ministries for years to come.

For the second-year anniversary, Moloney set the goal of doubling the amount of grants given by the organization.

“The possibilities are endless really,” Moloney said. “We are teaching parishes that when you apply for a grant, you are being competitive in a good way. We’re asking parishes to look at their programs and ask how they can become stronger and how they can be more impactful and in what way can we measure impact. The Church hasn’t necessarily been measuring impact, so this will help them to really say this is what we are doing, and this how we know we are doing it well.”