By Rose Brennan
BRIDGEPORT—Sometimes ministries need a little bit of help to reach their full potential.
Luckily, Foundations in Faith is ready and willing to provide that little boost.
This helping hand comes in the form of the foundation’s “mini grant” program. Originally, the program was exclusively available through the St. John Paul II Fund for Religious Education and Faith Formation. But the new year means new beginnings for everyone, including Foundations in Faith.
Now, the mini grant program is available through all nine of the foundation’s funds. This means the impact of the program can extend beyond religious education and faith formation to other programs like Catholic nursing homes, vocations and seminarians, retired priests, evangelization, and much more.
“Mini grants are small but mighty,” said Kelly Weldon, Foundations in Faith’s director. “Unlike other grants, there are no lengthy applications with deadlines and no long waiting periods to hear back. These grants are for creative thinkers with great ideas to bring people closer together as disciples and missionaries in kinship with Christ.”
Although the mini grant program has expanded, the criteria to qualify remains the same. Applicants can request between $500 and $2,000 for a Diocesan parish or program that demonstrates exceptional innovation, exceptional need, or both.
For instance, St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Bridgeport received a mini grant to fund the construction of a fire pit on church grounds. It’s now a common site for youth group and young adult gatherings, and with the continuing reality of the coronavirus pandemic, the ability to host activities and programs outdoors remains essential.
Another program benefitting from the mini grant program is the Catholic Adventures program in Stamford. Members of this young adult ministry are also a part of Restless Catholic Media, which includes a podcast. Through a mini grant, Restless was able to purchase microphones to record their podcast at a higher standard of quality.
Foundations in Faith is hoping to provide more support through the mini grant program. Applications for mini grants are received on a rolling basis until the funds are exhausted, but they are offered by invitation only.
So how can you get an invitation to apply? Foundations in Faith wants you to “pitch” your idea to them by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. If the staff feels your idea fits one of the nine Foundations in Faith ministries and demonstrates exceptional innovation or need, you will receive the online application, and you’ll be on your way to applying for a mini grant.
Weldon is especially looking for applications that describe young people’s ideas for programs that build bridges.
“Think Cupcake Wars with the seminarians, or a rosary group for runners, or plans to organize another parish study of ‘Open Wide Our Hearts’ to further conversations on anti-racism, or an art exhibit where all cultures are represented in holy art,” Weldon said. “It should all start with ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if we …’ or ‘If only we had …’ statements.”
Weldon also encouraged collaboration between the nine ministries Foundations in Faith funds, recalling a project where participants at St. Catherine Center for Special Needs created a book filled with art and heartfelt messages for the retired priests at the Catherine Dennis Keefe Queen of the Clergy residence during the coronavirus pandemic. Foundations in Faith is hopeful expanding the mini grant program will help drive collaboration and innovation in the Diocese. And now, that can happen across all nine of the foundation’s ministries.