By: AIF Staff
JANESVILLE, WI – Today, AIF President and former Speaker of the House Paul Ryan announced 7 non-profit organizations across the United States will be receiving financial support and strategic assistance from the American Idea Foundation in 2023 as they continue expanding economic opportunities and reducing poverty in their communities.
In 2022, the American Idea Foundation issued a handful of grants to front-line organizations developing evidence-based solutions to address issues like recidivism, financial literacy and entrepreneurship in underserved communities, early childhood health, and family well-being. Throughout the year, Ryan and his Foundation visited these organizations, offered strategic advice, shared policy expertise, and elevated the groups’ efforts in a variety of ways. It will expand on those efforts in 2023 with a new round of grant recipients.
Each of the 2023 grant recipients are making enormous differences in people’s lives. The funds and support provided by the American Foundation will be used primarily to develop additional data and evidence around specific poverty-fighting strategies around the country.
In announcing the American Idea Foundation’s 2023 grant recipients, Paul Ryan said:
“Working with these amazing organizations and supporting their evidence-based approaches to fighting poverty is one of the most rewarding parts of my post-Congressional career. These groups are simply amazing. Their work is inspiring.
Last year, I spent time with two of our grant recipients, Gatekeepers in Hagerstown and Corner to Corner in Nashville, and saw first-hand the profound impact these organizations have. Our grant recipients are transforming communities, building ecosystems of support, and lifting people up daily. These groups and their leaders are committed to developing evidence that validate their approaches and I truly believe this is how America moves the needle on poverty.
This isn’t about partisanship or politics. It is about solving problems, helping people, and making the American Dream more accessible. These groups are doing precisely that and it’s why I am so excited to partner with these organizations in the year ahead.”
Started by Ryan in October 2019, 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 policymakers with a better blueprint to address the challenges facing individuals and communities across the United States.
The 2023 American Idea Foundation grant recipients are….
Located in Chicago, Illinois, Bernie’s Book Bank creates pathways to success through book ownership by providing children and families access to books and giving children books of their own. Founded in 2009, Bernie’s Book Bank has long believed reading is one of the most important skills a child can possess, which is why it gives free, quality books to children to build personal libraries.
Since its founding, Bernie’s Book bank has sourced, processed, and distributed over 25 million books and delivered them directly to the children they serve via the school districts and early childhood programs in the Chicagoland area. The story and growth of Bernie’s Book Bank is astonishing. They have helped countless children learn how to read and develop comprehension skills which lay the foundation for more educational opportunities and a pathway out of poverty.
Originally located in Boston, MA before expanding nationally, Bottom Line partners with degree-aspiring students of color from under-resourced communities to help them get into college, through college, and out into the workforce.
Founded in 1997, Bottom Line does this by pairing mentors with first-generation college students from low-income backgrounds, shepherding students through the college application process, and sticking with them throughout college by offering one-on-one support through graduation. Bottom Line’s goal is to create a far-reaching ripple effect by using the transformative power of a college degree to mobilize careers that lift up individuals, families, and communities. The organization currently serves over 7,000 students and the early impact of their program, as evidenced in a 2021 randomized controlled trial, are promising.
Operating in Kettering, Ohio,Brigid’s Path was founded in 2014 to care for babies and mothers in crisis with grace, love and hope. It was the first in-patient, newborn recovery center in Ohio.
The organization’ primary purpose is to care for infants who were born exposed to an addictive substance like opioids or other drugs. Brigid’s Path employs the latest therapeutic techniques to help babies be as comfortable as possible while they experience withdrawal. At a critical stage in a newborn’s development, the medical staff and volunteers of Brigid’s Path shower them with love and attention 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The organization believes in the strength of families and that families can – and do – contribute to the successful treatment of these babies. As they help newborns, Brigid’s Path also works with community partners to provide resources for their moms to achieve the stability that will ultimately help them care for their children for both the near and long-term.
Friends of the Children is a national non-profit organization that selects and invites youth – all of whom have unique talents, interests and dreams, and face multiple systemic obstacles – to be paired with a paid, professional mentor called a Friend. The organization hires and trains Friends to support youth from as early as age 4 through high school graduation. Friends spend a minimum of 14 to 16 intentional hours per month with each child and the Friends’ full-time job is to empower and support youths and their caregivers.
Friends of the Children revolutionized the youth mentoring field by creating the first and only long-term professional mentoring program in the country. They focus on youth who are facing the greatest obstacles, such as those who facing trauma or dealing with adverse early-childhood experiences, and help them develop skills like trust, empathy, and healthy communication. Friends of the Children has long been a leader in the evidence-based policy space, participating in the longest-running youth mentoring randomized control trial in the country.
A nationally recognized non-profit with campuses in 20 cities, Per Scholas believes a thriving workforce starts with equitable access to education. To accomplish this goal, they have created an evidence-based, professional development program that provides individuals with tuition-free technology training and skills for high-growth careers.
Aiming to educate 4,500 students in 2023, Per Scholas provides customized training and job placement services for low-income workers focusing primarily on the information technology sector. Its core mission is to advance economic equity through rigorous training for tech careers and to connect skilled talent to leading businesses. As their 2022 Annual Report showed, their approach is working as the program has an 8:1 economic return generated for every dollar invested in Per Scholas.
The Wisconsin Inmate Education Association is focusing on helping men and women incarcerated in the Wisconsin prison system transform their lives through the completion of an in-prison college curriculum which provides them with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Biblical Studies.
By encouraging inmates to embrace an alternative identity centered around faith and education, WIEA believes their intervention will lower levels of misconduct, stimulate spiritual transformations, and improve families and communities by changing behaviors for the better. The Wisconsin Inmate Education Association’s approach is evidence-based and they measure success by looking at factors like personal transformation, violence reduction, the community and family impact, and recidivism.
Located in Denver, Colorado,the Women’s Bean Project is a transitional employment program serving those women who have struggled to obtain and maintain employment. The organization’s goal is to change women’s lives by providing them stepping stones to self-sufficiency through work.
Participants complete a 6-9 month vocational and educational program and upon graduation, receive a full-time job as a production assistant in the Women’s Bean Project’s food manufacturing business. The Women’s Bean Project helps women achieve independence by giving them the readiness skills, talents, and opportunities to break the cycle of poverty. Since its founding, the Women’s Bean Project has blossomed into a successful commercial enterprise and their products are now sold in 1,000 stores nationwide. They generated over $2 million in revenue last year and helped hundreds of women get back on track.