New summit helps the faithful alleviate unemployment

0 Comment Wayne.Steffen
June 4, 2013

The Central Valley’s first summit on how faith-based organizations can address unemployment was a rousing success.

Some 123 pastors, non-profit leaders and faith-based business people attended the Work of Our Hands May 30, 2013. This was about twice the number of people expected, according to Randy White, D. Min., chief architect of the summit.

“It was a great shot for our first experience. We will do it again,” said White, executive director of the Center for Community Transformation at Fresno Pacific University. The CCT sponsored the summit, which took place at First Presbyterian Church, Fresno.

The morning-long event featured opening remarks from Fresno mayor Ashley Swearengin, eight workshops, Skype presentations on what other churches and communities are already doing and resources available to get the work started here. Many of the ideas centered on how churches and nonprofits can start businesses and provide support and training for those who find it difficult to get a job.    

Workshops included:

Social Entrepreneurship for Churches and Non-Profits

Mark-Peter Lundquist, vice president with Urban Ventures in Minneapolis, and Randy Wallace, Ph.D., associate professor of business at FPU, explained what social entrepreneurship is, and gave examples of churches and agencies launching social enterprises.

How to Incubate a Small Business Idea

Craig Scharton, director of business development for the city of Fresno, explored how churches and non-profits can make a product or service into a sustainable business.

Funding Your Venture: Crowd Sourcing and Micro Loans

Jeremy Hofer (1999 FPU grad), business development manager at the Fresno Community Development Financial Institution, talked about micro lending, crowd sourcing and other ways of funding a small business start-up.

Unemployment Support Groups

Carlotta Curti facilitated an unemployment support group at NorthPointe Community Church, Fresno. She shared what they’ve learned from such activities as resume help, dealing with the emotional aspects of unemployment and job referral services. She also made recommendations for churches wishing to provide this ministry for their members.

Social Business and the Triple Bottom Line

Brice Yocum, J.D., assistant professor of business administration/law and ethics at FPU, and Kyle Kennington, Lanna Coffee in Fresno, defined social business and their financial, social and environmental benefits.

Learn2Earn: How Your Church Could Make Fresno More Attractive to Industry

Linda Davidson-Gafford, project coordinator for Learn2Earn, explained mechanisms in place for those in Fresno who want to improve their chances for employment through education.

Modest Models 1: Chocolate, Soup and the Jolly Green Giant Modest Models 2: Cars, Resumes and Brooms

Presenters gave examples of businesses started by churches and agencies for vulnerable groups such as youth and young mothers as well as communities at large.

The Work of Our Hands will not stop between summits. The CCT is sponsoring a business plan competition for youth groups, congregations and individuals. Plans are to award three $2,500 prizes October 1. “With $2500 you can do materials, make a web presence and market nationally,” White said.

Other activities are also in the works. “We’ve got to find ways to leverage this, to keep it alive,” White said.

The Center for Community Transformation is based in the Fresno Pacific Biblical Seminary, a school of FPU. Its purpose is to transform the region into communities of abundance and peace and its vision is a Central Valley defined by access to the blessings of entrepreneurial creativity, spiritual freedom, economic vitality and justice, environmental integrity, cross-cultural/social collaboration and political health.

See a report from Channel 24, KSEE-TV at

ksee24.com/news/local/Faith-Based-Unemployment-Summit-209577831.html

More about the Center for Community Transformation at TransformCentralValley.org/

Large photo: Randy White addresses Work of Our Hands participants Small photo: Randy White and Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin (Photos by Steve Skibbie)    

About the author

Wayne Steffen is university editor at Fresno Pacific University, where he edits Pacific magazine. Before joining FPU in 1996, he was a writer and editor at several community newspapers and a college in the Midwest.

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