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New Loyola grant focuses on helping vulnerable Louisiana and Mississippi families

February 28, 2014

The Jesuit Social Research Institute at Loyola University New Orleans recently received a $200,000 grant to enhance its efforts helping some of the poorest and most vulnerable families in Louisiana and Mississippi.

The grant, awarded by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, will fund a multi-pronged approach designed to head off the most pressing economic injustices low-income people face locally, including unscrupulous payday lending practices and poor health care, to name a few. Funding for the project is provided from Feb. 1, 2014 to Jan. 31, 2016.

The goals of the grant-funded approach, the newly formed Economic Justice for Vulnerable Children and Families project, are to allow Loyola’s Jesuit Social Research Institute to expand work on economic justice with a keener focus on financial inequities, their racial connections and the impact on the region’s vulnerable children. At the same time, the institute will provide in-depth economic research and analysis to support advocacy efforts as well as citizen education, faith and community engagement.

Specifically, the project will allow the Jesuit Social Research Institute to:

  • expand its resources to educate the public on the negative impact of payday lending, which targets 60,000 low-income families in Louisiana each year with its high-cost and high-fee loans that promise fast cash;
  • support the work of interfaith and civic groups to improve the low rankings of Louisiana and Mississippi (No. 46 and 49, respectively) in the Kids Count index, which measures the well-being of children in America, including infant mortality, children living in poverty and children living in single-parent homes;
  • support policies to reduce anti-immigrant sentiment responsible for putting nearly 2 million immigrants, including children, at risk and driving them into the shadows every year;
  • work to reform the current tax structure, which results in millions of poor families paying higher taxes than many middle- and upper-income families; and
  • provide fiscal analysis and public education to improve health care for low-income parents and their children, resulting in more secure families, more regular work, and less family spending for catastrophic illnesses and other care.

“JSRI is not going to cure all these problems, but this focus on economic security means that if low- and moderate-income families were free of payday usury, paid lower taxes and had Medicaid coverage, while immigrants were paid just wages and were free of fear, these families would have more economic resources to meet their own needs. As the Catholic church has put it, these families would be better able to be ‘artisans of their own destiny,’” said the Rev. Fred Kammer, S.J., J.D., director of the Jesuit Social Research Institute.

The W.K. Kellogg Foundation (WKKF), founded in 1930 as an independent, private foundation by breakfast cereal pioneer, Will Keith Kellogg, is among the largest philanthropic foundations in the United States. Guided by the belief that all children should have an equal opportunity to thrive, WKKF works with communities to create conditions for vulnerable children so they can realize their full potential in school, work and life.

The Kellogg Foundation is based in Battle Creek, Mich., and works throughout the United States and internationally, as well as with sovereign tribes. Special emphasis is paid to priority places where there are high concentrations of poverty and where children face significant barriers to success. WKKF priority places in the U.S. are in Michigan, Mississippi, New Mexico and New Orleans; and internationally, are in Mexico and Haiti. For more information, visit www.wkkf.org.

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