In 2004, the city of Phoenix Human Services Department (HSD) convened a group of representatives of the faith-based community to build upon 40 years of harmonious partnerships with the community in assisting thousands of low-income residents achieve and sustain self-sufficiency. The outcome was the city's Faith-Based Initiatives.
Faith-Based Initiatives Work Group
The 20-member work group meets to plan summits and facilitate communication between the city, other government agencies and community organizations, and the faith communities. Their work has guided efforts to provide critical information for building and sustaining working partnerships.
Faith-Based Initiatives Mission
The Faith-Based Initiatives mission is to create an ongoing collaboration among faith-based communities and with city government to develop and implement services that improve the lives of families and communities in need.
What is a Summit?
A summit is one of the main avenues to meet the Faith-Based Initiatives mission and goals. It is a gathering of faith-based groups, community organizations and government agencies with the purpose of sharing information, tools and best practices. Each summit results in a call to action with specific outcomes. Each summit has attracted more than 80 local religious leaders from diverse faiths.
The first summit was held in January 2005 to explore potential partnerships around human services issues. By working together to build increased resources, greater community impact can be reached and attained.
A series of seven summits have been held:
- Neighborhood Roots System (NRS) - NRS equips and mentors faith communities to develop business plans for the neighborhoods in collaboration with government, corporations, foundations, and other non-profit organizations
- Open Table - faith-based communities are equipped and mentored to develop and implement stability and self-sufficiency plans for individuals and/or families in crisis or who are homeless
- Building Prosperity Campaign-information and resources on financial education and asset development strategies for families and individuals
- Prevention of Falls - resources and programs for seniors
- Dialogue on Poverty - finding a common ground
- Partnering with government, corporate and foundation funders
- Homelessness - making the connections
- Since April 2008, 11 congregations and one business have implemented the Open Table model and are helping individuals and families move from homelessness and isolation to self-sufficiency and a stable social community.
- During the Building Prosperity Campaign, families opened savings accounts and participants received vital information on money management programs.
- After the Faith-Based Summit on Fall Prevention, 20 faith-based groups and community agencies received additional information and resources about ways to prevent falls and related injuries among the elderly.
- After the Homelessness Summit, more than 50 faith-based groups and community agencies formed a Heat Relief Network to provide hydration, respite and wellness checks for individuals and families that are homeless and at risk during the extreme summer heat.
Current Faith-Based Initiatives/Programs
- Neighborhood Roots System (neighborhood transformation)
- Open Table (individual/family stability)
- Matter of Balance (senior focus)
- Heat Relief Network (summer hydration, respite and wellness checks)
- Financial Education Classes (budgeting, credit, financial programs)
- Earned Income Tax Credit Campaign (free tax preparation and awareness)
- Homeless Street Count (annual count of homeless population)