The WC believes that the best source of solutions is within the neighborhoods that are affected. Rather than parachute programs into low-income communities, we seek out those individuals and organizations that are already addressing the problems, help them build their capacities, and assist them in linking to the resources they need.
In every community, no matter how devastated, there are individuals, families, or groups that respond to the problems they see and seek to provide solutions. The groups the WC assists: come from the same zip code as those they serve; their programs pre-date funding; theirs is a lifetime commitment of service and not a job; and their goal is the self-sufficiency of those they serve. Most but not all of them are faith-based.
By identifying those that are effective, giving them training and technical assistance to strengthen their ability to serve and sustain themselves, linking them to outside resources, and assisting with public policy issues that concern them.
No. But over the years, the Woodson Center has found that the most effective neighborhood-based organizations are faith-centered, because they are able to transform hearts and lay the groundwork for the successful application of jobs and other economic programs. Grassroots groups in the Woodson Center’s network represent a wide spectrum of religious faiths.
The Woodson Center works with grassroots groups on the whole range of problems of poverty, with a particular emphasis on those dealing with youth violence, since the restoration of civil order is a necessary foundation for civic health. Other issues include substance abuse, homelessness, housing, education, community revitalization, economic development, youth development, ex-offender reentry, and work preparation.
Not only are they solving some of the most troubling problems of our low-income communities, the solutions they have devised in the crucible of poverty are exportable to the affluent suburbs. Youth violence, teen pregnancy, and substance abuse are examples.