2022 Summary of Grants
September 6, 2023

2022 Summary of Grants

 Click here to view The Rees-Jones Foundation 2022 Summary of Grants |

President’s Letter | T Hardie

Every year at this time, we take the opportunity to look back on the past year and reflect on the work being done by so many of our partners here locally and around the world. Their work inspires us as we seek to advance the priorities outlined by our founders as presented in the following pages. Advancing these priorities often does not proceed in a straight line, however, so as we have worked, we have learned how complex and often indirect the work can be, and importantly, how interrelated our priorities are with larger problems and issues affecting the people we want to serve.

The welfare and safety of children, for example, is one of our highest priorities. It is a goal that involves not only protecting children who have been abused or neglected, it also involves equipping new parents with parenting skills and providing counseling to promote healthy family structures. It includes increasing the safety of neighborhoods, and access to quality childcare and affordable housing and educational opportunities and healthcare for mind and body. It can mean offering economic opportunities for parents or eliminating barriers that deny access to those opportunities. All of these factors have meaningful impacts on the welfare of children.

In recent years, we have begun to think more about the importance of place; how the well-being of children is affected positively or negatively by the places they live. Research has revealed that one of the strongest influences on the long-term welfare of a child is the neighborhood where he or she grows up. Is it safe and free from violence and blight? Are affordable and stable housing options available with access to quality food, education and recreation? And is there an atmosphere of community that supports a stable home life with capable and loving parents, friends and neighbors? With all of this in mind, we have become increasingly interested in making key investments in places where these needs seem to be greatest. Recent examples include the establishment of community centers and recreation facilities where neighbors can safely and easily gather to enjoy physical activity and fellowship, such as Park South YMCA, For Oak Cliff and Behind Every Door, all in southern Dallas. Others in the works include the new Southern Gateway Deck Park bridging Interstate 35 and reconnecting parts of Oak Cliff long divided by that highway, and the new Fair Park Community Park which will reopen new beautiful outdoor recreational park land to the neighborhoods surrounding Fair Park. These assets will help to bring life to parts of our city in which few investments have been made in recent decades. In 2022, we also helped increase classroom space at Cornerstone Crossroads Academy and King’s Academy, both high quality schools for kids living in these same neighborhoods. And we have supported the work of Advocates for Community Transformation as it has used the judicial processes to rid these neighborhoods of drug houses and the associated violence.

What is our hope for these investments? We think in terms of community development or community transformation. The process of community development, pursued from a Christian perspective, is one in which investors come alongside neighborhood leaders, listening to them and being led by them to build the community from within primarily for the benefit of those living there. It is gradual, sometimes imperceptible, and always slower than desired. It is contrasted with what we see in gentrifying neighborhoods where
investment comes rapidly from the outside for the benefit of those on the outside who stand to profit at the expense of those within who are often displaced.

More specifically, it is our hope that our investments in these community assets will provide opportunities for children and families to thrive, to learn and grow, to experience nature and fellowship with their neighbors and cultivate a feeling of belonging and hope for the future. We hope that these assets will add confidence that a wide range of community services will develop, and done in the right way, will begin to build up the neighborhoods from within. Quality schools and childcare options and affordable housing are components that are desirable as are places to work and gather safely and productively.

How do we bring about this type of transformation? Tim Keller, in his book Generous Justice, summarizes the Christian community development work of John Perkins who emphasized three basic principles. The first is relocation, or in Keller’s words “re-neighboring.” It involves being invited into the neighborhood, getting close, and by getting close beginning to understand the factors at issue in that place. It means not bringing preconceived notions or solutions to problems that cannot be understood by observing from the outside. And of course it means actively listening to those most familiar with the issues, those living in those places. Second, once present and aligned with the neighbors, the hope is for what Keller calls a “reweaving” of the community; repairing what may be the worn fabric of the physical characteristics of the community. This may require financial capital or advocacy to restore public safety and repair infrastructure or address blight or build businesses. And then inevitably, there is the need for reconciliation, racially and culturally. As Christians, we should be good at this. We are made in God’s image with unique gifts that are to be celebrated, working together as part of His body. Our human side often resists this process, preferring instead to live among only like-minded people with common interests, but God calls us back to this process of reconciliation to advance the common good.

These are some ideas we have been thinking about and hope to pursue in the future. It is increasingly evident that broadly seeking the welfare of the cities we serve is a key strategy in achieving meaningful improvements in the welfare of our children. They will thrive when the neighborhoods where they live thrive, when they have opportunities for health and education and recreation in environments that are safe and secure and beautiful. We want to work towards this kind of community.

View the 2022 Summary of Grants

 Click here to view The Rees-Jones Foundation 2022 Summary of Grants

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