Invested Faith announced the inaugural round of grants of $5,000 to five social entrepreneurs, including Dr. Alysia Nicole Harris, of Corsicana, who is restoring the East Side Chapel, a historically significant Black church built in 1905.
"Dr. Harris’ efforts are grounded in the belief that the thriving of a community requires creative preservation of its stories of the past. In historically Black worship spaces, past meets future in the craft and enterprise of community artists and storytellers," said Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, founder of Invested Faith.
This first round of unrestricted grants will go to faith-based individuals who are working to create community, do justice, and address systemic problems in their own communities. After a period of development and initial funding, Invested Faith is making the first small grants to faith-based social entrepreneurs.
Invested Faith was established by Butler in 2019 in response to declining church attendance and the need for a new model of philanthropy. Grounded in a theology of abundance, Invested Faith will serve as a bridge for established congregations who have reached the end of their institutional life cycles to send their witness and resources forward to social innovators who are creating new expressions of faith and community. The fund is located at ImpactAssets, the leading facilitator of direct impact investing within donor-advised funds.
“The work of healing the world continues in ways tradition often finds unfamiliar. It’s an act of faith and courage to direct the resources of our traditions toward those who are birthing new models of faithful living in the world,” Butler said.
Invested Faith Fellows were selected based on five criteria: that each one is driven by faith, creating community, doing justice, addressing systemic problems, and building a sustainable business model. Fellows were chosen by Invested Faith Advisors: Rev. Dr. Amy Butler, De’Amon Harges, and Dr. Joanne Solis-Walker. Fellows will receive a $5,000 unrestricted grant and an invitation to tell their stories to inspire communities of faith to create legacy projects by investing their assets in the Invested Faith fund.
These five people were selected as the first round of Invested Faith Fellows:
Alysia Nicole Harris, Corsicana, Texas: Meeting House Revival
Alysia Nicole Harris, Ph.D. is a Pushcart-nominated performance poet whose work is at the intersection of church and community building. The mission of the Meeting House Revival is to preserve Black history by restoring historical Black churches. Her first project, the East Side Chapel Revival Project in Corsicana, Texas, aims to restore and revive a historically significant Black church built in 1905 and create space for local artists to offer their work.
Coté Soerens, Seattle, Washington: Cultivate South Park
Coté Soerens is the owner/midwife of Resistencia Coffee shop in the South Park neighborhood of Seattle, Washington. She is the co-founder of Cultivate South Park, a non-profit that lends infrastructure to neighborhood community development projects such as the Urban Fresh Food Collective, Reconnect South Park, and the South Park Arts and Culture Collective. Born in Chile, she came to the US at 25 and has since started a number of initiatives in both the private and non-profit sectors. Find out more at cultivatesouthpark.org/about.
Safronia Perry, Carlisle, Pennsylvania: Black Economic Growth Alliance
Safronia Perry established the Black Economic Growth Alliance to meet the needs of Black business owners in Carlisle and central Pennsylvania. Her plans are to offer networking and aid to Black-owned businesses including avenues to accounting, legal assistance, etc. Perry works as the Executive Director of Hope Station Neighborhood Council.
My’Kal Lofton, Charlottesville, Virginia: Green Wall Street
My’Kal Loftin is the founder of Green Wall Street, a collective working to strengthen social support connections across marginalized communities and to further understanding of ecological relationships. GWS began during the racial events in Charlottesville in August of 2017 and creates space and support for economic and social innovation both in Charlottesville and in partner cities. Find out more at www.thegreenwallst.org/
Simone Jenkins, Nashville, Tennessee: Lipstick Cult
Simone Jenkins is an entrepreneur who started Lipstick Cult, a Black-owned lipstick brand that highlights global culture. Jenkins, who identifies as a person with a disability, is breaking through barriers as a business owner of color and plans to create programs for women with disabilities. Her Pink Door Project targeted breast cancer awareness, mammogram screenings and survivor support.
About Invested Faith: Invested Faith is a fund for faith-based social innovators established by Rev. Dr. Amy Butler in 2019 and based at ImpactAssets. The Invested Faith initiative will allow established religious institutions nearing the end of their life cycles to use their resources to support social entrepreneurs who are working to seek justice, build community, and directly change unjust systems. Invested Faith is working to become a bridge between traditional churches and social innovators who are creating new expressions of faith and community. Small grants to social entrepreneurs and innovators will be made at regular intervals throughout the year.