If We Had a Million Dollars…

We've been doing our best to get the word out, so hopefully you've heard the fantastic news that Giving Voice has been given a one million dollar grant by the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation! I just want to take the opportunity to tell you a little more about that. The grant was awarded to Giving Voice in partnership with Catholic Theological Union, which provides us with an infrastructure and resources that we do not have on our own. It is an academic institution with a strong commitment to the future of religious life, so it is a good partner for us to have. The grant is one million dollars that will be dispersed over three years. There are many good things that we can do with this grant, and specifics are just shaping up.

The first thing that we're doing, which is now in process, is contracting an administrative assistant. As you know, we run our organization solely with volunteers, which has been the case from the foundation of Giving Voice. Having an assistant will be very helpful for all of us who volunteer in Giving Voice in the midst of full time ministries, graduate school, participation in our communities, and the rich, full lives that we lead! We are also planning to contract with someone who can help our organization to develop a strategic planning process. It would be someone who can engage a wide representation of younger sisters to identify our needs for leadership development and networking. Once we develop a plan, we will implement it over the three years of the grant. We will need a lot of input from you, our beloved young sisters, for this, so keep an eye out for the start of that process.

The grant will ultimately help to prepare younger sisters for effective leadership in their religious communities, ministries, and the Church. It will increase and improve the participation of younger sisters whose first language is not English. We have such wonderful diversity in our group, and we constantly want to improve how we connect with each other. To help to cross language barriers, we will increase translation of written materials and simultaneous interpretation at our retreats and conferences. In addition, the grant will also increase the capacity of our website and other forms of electronic communication so that we can make our virtual meetings and relationship building opportunities even more effective. We plan to use the grant money to identify sources of long-term financial viability for Giving Voice and to raise our visibility as well.

As you can see, we have high hopes and many exciting plans for this generous grant we have received. We are so very grateful to CTU and the Hilton Foundation for this tremendous gift. It needs to be said as well (so I'll say it!) that we are also so very grateful for the financial support that we have received over these years from religious communities. Communities have been very generous and good to us. They have sustained and supported us. We appreciate those connections, and we use the money we receive for a variety of purposes, from conferences to materials to all that we need to connect younger sisters with each other. The grant covers new initiatives, and so we will still have to fund ourselves the old-fashioned way – through donations. We hope our communities will continue to support us financially as well as prayerfully and relationally. Giving Voice really is a team effort, and we thank you for being on the GV Team!

These are exciting times for Giving Voice and for religious life! There is a sense of energy and enthusiasm among sisters as well as the people of God. Stay tuned and we'll keep you updated on how things unfold!