By: AIF Staff
JANESVILLE, WI – This week, AIF President Paul Ryan announced 5 non-profit organizations from around the country would be receiving financial and strategic support from the American Idea Foundation to advance evidence-based programs focused on fighting poverty and promoting upward mobility.
The grant awards reflect Ryan’s ongoing commitment to help organizations on the front-lines of American communities develop and scale solutions rooted in data and empirical research. The funds will assist these local programs that help individuals who are in need of support and will expand the use of evidence-based solutions around the country.
In announcing the American Idea Foundation’s 2022 grant awards, Paul Ryan said:
“With polarization, partisanship, and cynicism on the rise in America, we have an obligation to strengthen civil society and support organizations that are making a tangible difference in people’s lives. After 20 years in Congress, I know the answers to all of America’s problems are not necessarily found in Washington, they are found in our neighborhoods and in our communities.
“We need to champion these groups who are fighting to make our communities better and stronger. These grants from the American Idea Foundation will directly support those organizations who are tackling major challenges like recidivism, childhood health and wellness, and workforce training. These grants will help create bodies of evidence and grow bodies of evidence. They will promote innovative strategies and solutions with track records of success. And hopefully, they will take some of the politics out of fighting poverty.
“These groups are making a difference and with the American Idea Foundation’s help, they will make a more profound impact in their individual communities. Because of their work, more people will be able to realize their version of the American Dream and it’s a privilege to partner with such amazing organizations.”
The American Idea Foundation believes by taking the politics out of poverty-fighting and focusing on outcomes and results, successful programs can be scaled, elevated, and replicated. The Foundation believes this approach – prioritizing what works and validating these interventions with evidence — will provide the federal government with a better blueprint to address the challenges facing individuals and communities across the United States.
The 2022 American Idea Foundation grant recipients are:
Located in Hagerstown, Maryland,Gatekeepers is an organization that focuses on re-entry and reducing rates of re-offending and recidivism. Their mission is to motivate, empower, and encourage both current and ex-offenders through mentoring services by challenging them to make positive decisions and ultimately help facilitate the process of a successful transition back to their communities. Formerly incarcerated individuals often do not have positive role models in their life to aid them in their efforts and that is where Gatekeepers comes in. Through their Business of Living program, the Gatekeepers team is dedicated to helping people overcome obstacles standing in their way to achieving success and reaching their life goals.
Located in Nashville, Tennessee, Corner to Corner is a non-profit organization supporting the financial and educational futures of kids and families by promoting entrepreneurship. One of their programs, The Academy, is a ten-week course that strives to equip underrepresented entrepreneurs with the tools they need to plan, launch, and grow their small business. The Academy serves predominantly Black female entrepreneurs and aims to directly address the racial wealth gap in Nashville, all while creating a culture of business ownership. The goal of this program is to help these entrepreneurs take their businesses to the next step and ultimately create a pathway to self-sufficiency.
Located in Connecticut and North Carolina, Child First is a home visitation program for low-income families with young children at high risk of emotional, behavioral, or developmental problems, or child maltreatment. The program helps to heal and protect children and families from the effects of chronic stress and trauma by fostering strong, nurturing, caregiver-child relationships and connecting families with needed services and supports. The organization focuses on the child’s health and development and the challenges experienced by parents and caregivers that prevent them from nurturing and supporting the child’s development.
Similar to the Maternal Infant and Early Childhood Home Visitation program (MIECHV), the Child First program has already established a strong base of evidence that supports their approach. Because of their successes, the Child First program is looking to reach more families in-need by replicating its efforts in communities that currently lack access to these services.
A national programfounded in 2018, Merit America works with major employers to build scalable pathways to upwardly mobile careers for Americans without college degrees. Merit America serves low-wage workers and recently out-of-work individuals who have at least a high school degree but no college degree and who are interested in making near-term job transitions but need additional assistance.
Merit America works by identifying family-sustaining careers, preparing learners for those careers, and placing graduates in those careers. Their approach builds on a large body of research indicating that increased wages generate significant additional monetary and non-monetary value for individuals, their families, the government and employers even beyond the wage gains themselves. To date, Merit America has served over 2,000 learners and aims to reach more than 10,000 learners annually by 2024.
Located in Milwaukee, Wisconsin,the Joseph Project, is a faith-based initiative that seeks to train men and women — often with criminal backgrounds — and find them jobs with Wisconsin businesses. Participants go through a weeklong life skills training program and then are offered a chance to interview with companies looking to hire. As the Wall Street Journal noted, as part of its programming, the Joseph Project puts individuals through a vetting process; teaches them interview skills, financial literacy lessons, and conflict management techniques; and then links them with Wisconsin employers who are in need of quality workers.