As Jesus commissioned the disciples to go forth and spread the good news of salvation into all the world, our focus is not limited to only Southeast Georgia, but extends to organizations working internationally that respond to people in need. As such, the Foundation developed the Africa Initiative to effectively focus our grant making efforts in Africa.
International Initiative 2017 - 2020:
The SMUMC Foundation has invested in international grant making opportunities since its inception in 2001. The decision by the original board of directors was based on two key understandings. First and foremost, investing in international ministries is in direct alignment with the Great Commission given by Jesus Christ to “…be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” (Acts 1:8). This commitment is captured in the SMUMCF mission statement to be “…a lasting, effective and compassionate charitable resource for agencies in Southeast Georgia, the nation and the world …..” And secondly, investing in international ministries has long been a tradition of the St. Marys UMC as evidenced by a history of direct donations to various missions and missionaries and indirect donations through annual apportionments to the South Georgia Annual Conference of the UMC.
The initial years of international grant making was a broad approach, only limited to “Christian” organizations working outside of the US. During that period, the SMUMCF supported a variety of programs including Bible distributions, traditional relief efforts related to food and water, micro enterprises and medical missions to name a few. In 2003, the SMUMCF Board determined that while these grant investments were helpful, a more focused approach would perhaps be more effective and in 2004 the foundation entered into a partnership with Church World Service in support of Giving Children Hope.
Giving Children Hope worked from 2004 – 2010 in the East African countries of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda with a number of local, indigenous organizations to provide an alternative approach to caring for orphaned and vulnerable children suffering the dire consequences of HIV, AIDS, war and famine. Instead of institutionalized care via the traditional orphanage model, GCH focused on building the capacity of youth (ages 12-25) based on an asset-based community development process whereby these children were not separated from their communities, but were instead supported and empowered to stay in their community and lead the transitional efforts to create sustainable communities.
Through GCH, opportunities were provided to work with other organizations in East Africa. And in 2010, the SMUMCF, in partnership with Church World Service, Map International and ECHO launched TOGETHER. Together worked in Northern Uganda to serve the poor and marginalized while capitalizing on the core competencies of each organization. Through this integrated development program, the coalition mobilized active community participation where individuals, families and communities took responsible action to improve their well-being. Community empowerment, holistic integrated development and spiritual growth were important dimensions of this joint venture to build community resilience in the region.
The Together initiative concluded in 2016, but not before creating many sustainable, positive changes for the Karamojong people of Northern Uganda. The Board of Directors is now ready to embark upon a new direction relative to international grant making. Our goal has always been to invest in Christ-centered opportunities that have the most potential to move people out of poverty. Our experiences over the past 16 years lead us to believe that we can never “serve” people out of poverty in the long-standing, traditional sense. And, instead should invest in microfinance and other business practices that create local economies and sustainable jobs for those living in poverty around the world.
The board has therefore approved $200,000 per year over the next four years (2017-2020) to be invested in such international opportunities. Beginning January 1, 2017, the SMUMCF will accept proposals based on the following requirements:
1. Organizations must be founded in Christian doctrine, based in the United States and “tax exempt” as defined in IRS Code 501C3.
2. Consideration is not limited to any specific geographical location other than programs / projects must be located outside of the 50 United States or its territories.
3. Organizations will be given preference that work “outside the box”; the box being defined as the Global Poverty Industry whereby NGOs and other providers of charity benefit to the detriment of those in need.
4. The deadline for proposals is June 30, 2017.
5. Only properly completed, electronic proposals submitted via the SMUMC Foundation website at International Grant Proposal will be accepted.
6. Annual grant requests are limited to a maximum of $200,000 although smaller amounts will also be considered.
7. The successful applicant(s) will present investment opportunities that provide proven, tangible and measureable outcomes, create individual sustainability through the creation of jobs, utilize effective collaborations and incorporate an effective and accurate evaluation process.
8. Three to Five applicants will be selected to make an “on-site” presentation to the SMUMCF Board of Directors during August / September, 2017.
9. Final decisions will be made in October 2017 and funds will be made available for distribution in December 2017.
10. Applicants are encouraged to review the foundation’s history of international grant making provided on the SMUMCF website to gain a better understanding of the foundation’s international experiences and expectations.
The Africa Initiative (2011 - 2015):
FOUR ORGANIZATIONS. ONE MISSION
Together was a collaboration of four nonprofit organizations:
It was formed to serve the very poor in the Karamoja region of northeastern Uganda. Together created a 5-year, multi-faceted initiative to build community resilience and to improve health and development outcomes for people living in the 22 villages of Kacheri sub-county, increasing their capacities and decreasing their vulnerabilities.
Together had a substantial impact on the resilience of the Karamojong in the Kotido district of Uganda. Health and other development outcomes such as education, community mobilization, saving and lending, water access, conflict reduction, land cultivation, animal vaccination, income generation, crop management and diversification, environmental protection, and latrine usage all improved. The degree of improvement varied from outstanding (latrine construction and use, and vaccinations) to less extensive (insecticide treated nets and child nutrition). But overall, virtually all measured indicators improved significantly.
Further, Together partners—executives and field staff—were universally positive about the collaborative approach that defined Together. Similarly, local leaders—from NGOs and government departments—rated Together as providing significantly more benefit than any other nonprofit organization. A substantial contributor to this outstanding achievement was the partnership model Together employed.
SMUMC Foundation and the Together Council can praise God for the success of this initiative and know that the people of Karamoja have taken steps towards the resilience they need.
For more information, please read the following evalulation reports for the program:
The Africa Initiative (2004-2011)
GIS mapping courtesy of Gray Payne in collaboration with Nina Payne, Jowett & Wood, Inc. Consulting Foresters.
The Africa Initiativerepresents partnerships between St. Marys United Methodist Church Foundation and established Christian humanitarian organizations working in Africa for the benefit of children, particularly those who have been orphaned, but who also suffer the dire consequences of AIDS / HIV, war and famine.
Giving Children Hope
The Giving Children Hope program represents a continuing partnership between Church World Service and the St. Marys United Methodist Church Foundation. The goal is to protect the rights of and to provide support to orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) living in the countries of Tanzania, Rwanda, Uganda, Kenya and more recently Zambia and Mozabmique, who have been affected by HIV / AIDS, war and famine that they may by empowered to manage their own well being and the stability of their families,to participate in the social and economic development of their communities, and to live in the shelter of hope.
ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization)
The Educational Concerns for Hunger Organization (ECHO) and the St. Marys United Methoidst Church Foundation have established a partnership to create regional offices and formal partnerships in East and West Africa. These partnerships will make the agricultural resources of ECHO more accessible to individuals and programs - especially those that support, care and train orphans and vulnerable children (OVC) affected by HIV / AIDS, war and famine.