Poverty, which is traditionally defined in terms of income level, is a much broader issue that includes lack of safe housing, health care and food resources. Sadly, minorities experience higher poverty rates due to a number of contributing factors. Fortunately, there are organizations in Ohio working to combat this disparity and bring opportunity to affected communities in pursuit of a more equitable future.

The Catholic Social Services Our Lady of Guadalupe Center is one local organization working to reduce poverty by addressing its root causes within the immigrant Hispanic community, a population that is growing and experiencing disproportionate poverty. Located on Columbus’ west side, the Center provides services including English as a Second Language classes, financial assistance, food pantry, legal services and job readiness assistance. 

AEP Ohio recently announced that the American Electric Power Foundation awarded a $100,000 grant to the Center as part of the Foundation’s Delivering on the Dream: Social and Racial Justice grant program, a five-year, $5 million commitment to provide resources for organizations with a mission and programs dedicated to eliminating social and racial disparities and advancing equity. The Center plans to use this funding to strengthen its programs and resources. 

“Our Lady of Guadalupe Center has grown from a food pantry into a vital resource for Columbus’ Hispanic population, providing much-needed support for this growing community,” said Marc Reitter, president and chief operating officer of AEP Ohio. “Through this grant, we’re honored to be a part of the Center’s important efforts to increase access to programs and assistance that will help the Hispanic community thrive.”

“AEP Ohio and the AEP Foundation have made a transformative difference for the Hispanic community in the Columbus Region,” said Rachel Lustig, president and chief operating officer of Catholic Social Services. “Their long-standing partnership with Catholic Social Services has made an aggressive growth trajectory to strengthen efforts to advance racial justice and equity possible at the Our Lady of Guadalupe Center.”

Ramona Reyes, director of Our Lady of Guadalupe Center adds, “The name, Delivering on the Dream, is appropriate because AEP Ohio and its Foundation back up their call for social and racial justice with action. AEP’s partnership is the total package – strategic leadership, generous support, and volunteer engagement which has made a difference in people’s lives on a daily basis.”

In addition to Catholic Social Services, Delivering on the Dream grants have also been awarded to Community Legal Aid Services in northeast Ohio, YWCA of Columbus and Zora’s House, all of which promote and propel efforts in social and racial justice.

Know of an organization doing great work to advance positive social and racial justice outcomes? Tell us more in the comments below.

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