Volume 15, Number 24 | December 15, 2021 | www.citygatenetwork.org


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This issue of Street Smart is sponsored by:

 

 

ATTENTION! Today Is the Last Day to Get in on Early-bird Registration
Going, going … gone when the clock strikes midnight tonight! Don’t miss the best deal available for our 2022 Annual Conference and Exposition in San Antonio, June 1–4, 2022. So if you’ve been meaning to get your team registered but haven’t gotten around to it yet, you have until midnight Mountain Time. You can check out the eight-page brochure included in the current November/December issue of Instigate to see more information about the conference and get a taste of the program we’re building, or you can go directly to the webpage for details and to register. We look forward to seeing you in Texas!

 

Speak Up to Congress
Our colleagues at the Institutional Religious Freedom Alliance (IRFA) are circulating a letter for Congress, signed by providers and supporters of faith-based childcare and early education. While the expanded investment in childcare and early education in the Build Back Better Act is encouraging, like IRFA, we feel it unnecessarily marginalizes faith-based providers of these important services. The letter asks Congress to remedy this problem, knowing that the participation of faith-based providers supports the administration’s goals to advance racial equity, upholds the strong faith-adherence among of families of color, and respects the rich history of the provision of these services by communities of faith. Click here to see a brief outline of the issues. If you are a provider or supporter of faith-based childcare or early education, please join us in signing this letter to Congress no later than December 16, asking for this vital improvement to the Build Back Better Act that the Senate is currently considering. Feel free to forward this message to other supporters of faith-based childcare with your recommendation that they sign the letter. NOTE: While there are many concerns with a bill the size of the Build Back Better Act, it’s likely that some version of it will pass the U.S. Senate. We simply want to make sure that concerns like the one mentioned above are brought to the attention of lawmakers before the gavel sounds.

 

DC Forum Will Take Place on March 15 and 16
Our annual in-Washington government engagement event is usually held over three days in mid-March. After thinking long and hard about it, we’ve decided to offer it virtually, like we did last year. Hotels in Washington, D.C., can be quite expensive. It would be a shame to go there and not be able to get in to see lawmakers — but there is a good chance that would be the case. We’ve spoken with our contacts in D.C. about Senate and House offices: Many of them are still not open for visitors. And similarly, some of the agencies remain closed to public meetings. Additionally, Capitol Hill is still quite difficult to navigate. But we will hold a condensed version of our meeting via Zoom. We will do it over two days, March 15 and 16 (Tuesday and Wednesday), starting at 9:00 a.m. and ending at 3:00 p.m. (Mountain Time), with a lunch break both days. Watch for more details, but save the dates, and call Meetings and Events Manager Lisa Miller at (719) 266-8300 x107 with any questions.

 

2022 Snapshot Survey Coming January 24
ATTENTION CEOs: On January 24 you’ll be receiving Citygate Network’s survey asking for important data regarding guests in your facilities. Once we receive and tabulate your data, we’ll send you (and all participating members) the association-wide numbers, side-by-side with your numbers for ease of comparison. We will also send a “Swiss cheese” press release you can use when talking to reporters, donors, and more. This is an excellent way to spread the word about your work locally. You’ll have from January 24 to February 4 to gather the data and return it to us. Thanks in advance for your participation.

 

Citygate Network Holiday Hours
’Tis the season for family gatherings and year-end celebrations! Please note that the Citygate Network offices will be closed on December 24, 27, and 31, in honor of Christmas and New Year’s. Traditionally, an abbreviated version of Street Smart comes out on the first Monday after New Year’s; Monday, January 3 this year. Normal publication will resume on January 15, 2022.

 

Be Prepared for Omicron Cases and Exhortations
The next issue of Street Smart, out January 3, will be an abbreviated version. Because everyone will be just coming off the holidays, we’ll simply cover some critical issues and provide any timely updates. The January 17 edition will go back to what members are used to.

Between now and then, prepare yourself to be flooded with news and opinions about the Omicron variant of the Coronavirus. You’ll hear how quickly it spreads, that it has wreaked havoc in Europe and why vaccinations and boosters are paramount. You’ll also hear that the symptoms are generally mild, and recovery can be quick, so there is no need to be concerned. As you continue to welcome and serve guests and clients, our recommendations are: (1) Keep your powder dry when it comes to the politics. There are enough talking heads out there to keep everybody fired up for a long time. If you jump into that fray, regardless of how convinced and passionate you are, you’re sure to offend some people—probably some donors. (2) Keep doing what you do with all safety precautions still in place. As we have said previously, COVID or fear about COVID (or the next pandemic) will remain with us for a long time. We need to show we care about the people we serve by doing our best to protect them. Think about that as you order supplies, design facility enhancements or expansions, plan programs, and so on. (3) Respect and honor the request of people you serve or people with whom you work who want to take extra precautions. (4) Plan to participate in the next Citygate Network COVID all-member Zoom call, in late January or early February. The next issue of Street Smart will have the details. Be safe out there. Never before has your need to assume the heart and mind of Jesus been so important.

 

Looking Down the Street

  • We have contacted our member missions and ministries within the radius of the devastating tornado that ripped through a swath of Kentucky and Illinois last weekend. While none of them suffered facility damage, they are dealing with the crowds and attention that come after a disaster and stand ready to serve their neighbors and communities as needed. The “boots on the ground” are plentiful right now. In a couple of weeks, that may change as new needs emerge. We’ll keep you posted about anything that comes up with our member organizations in the affected region.
  • Anchorage Gospel Rescue Mission (Anchorage, Alaska) has introduced a Cashless Christmas event for their guests. The week before Christmas, they will set up tables displaying donated gift items that mission guests can choose from to give as Christmas gifts to those they love. The Cashless Christmas event will also include a gift-wrapping table and holiday treats for all participants. Community and donor interest has exceeded all expectations.
  • Boise Rescue Mission (Boise, Idaho) has purchased a vacant assisted-living facility and plans to open “Sonrise Manor” after the New Year. The new-to-them building will allow the expansion of their transitional living program by more than 25 percent, offering 80 safe, stable, supportive housing units for guests transitioning from homelessness to independent living.
  • The Bridgeport Rescue Mission (Bridgeport, Connecticut) has named a new CEO, and the name might sound familiar: Dan Rogers, former president and CEO at Cherry Street Mission Ministries (Toledo, Ohio) took on his new leadership role in November.
  • Those of you who have been with Citygate Network for a while will likely remember Herb Pfiffner. Herb, the former CEO of Seattle’s Union Gospel Mission (Seattle, Washington), passed away last weekend after a lengthy battle with cancer. He had served for 20 years before his 2009 retirement, growing the mission from an annual budget of $3 million to $16 million.

TELL US: Do you have news to share with other network members? Send a blurb to Alice Gifford. Include as many details as possible. We'll handle the editing

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Boosting Single Parent Educational Outcomes
ECMC Foundation, a national organization working to improve higher education outcomes among underserved students, tasked four community colleges to significantly increase the number of single mothers earning degrees and credentials at their institutions. They received a $50k start-up fund to develop and launch pilot programs focused on academic support tailored to single mothers. Teams at each of the institutions conducted interviews with the women, college faculty, and staff to gain a better understanding of the barriers they face in order to provide relevant support. Early results reveal that single mothers make up 10 percent of their undergraduates, with almost 90 percent of these women qualifying as low-income students. Although only 28 percent of them currently earn a degree or credential within a six-year period, statistics show that every level of education completed decreases the likelihood of living in poverty by 32 percent. Those accomplishments can influence intergenerational change by disrupting cycles of poverty and increasing earning potential.
Consider: In what ways have you, or can you, encourage single mothers at your facilities to pursue higher education? We encourage you to post what’s working for you on the Citygate Network Connect Groups you belong to.

 

Offering Creative and Therapeutic Outlets
In cooperation with gun buyback programs, Michael Martin co-founded Rawtools as a nonprofit dedicated to converting guns into garden tools. He likes to think of the process as a therapeutic, healing process for gun-violence victims, playing off the scripture in Isaiah about turning swords into plowshares. Rawtools relies on a large volunteer network across the country that disables weapons and donates them to the organization. Turning these potentially destructive implements into productive tools has helped some survivors deal with their tragedies in a transformative way. So far, Rawtools has turned more than a thousand guns into garden tools and hopes to inspire other similarly innovative programs throughout the country.
Consider: What kinds of creative programs and workshops do you offer for your clients to work through some of the baggage they carry?

 

New Book Examines Managing the Opioid Crisis
The University of Minnesota Press just published Opioid Reckoning by Amy C. Sullivan, a provocative look at the limitations of conventional addiction treatment in the face of the modern opioid epidemic. She explores whether harm reduction might offer a more successful approach than AA’s self-examination and chemical prohibitions by seeking to stabilize the suffering chemically, and then meeting patients with empathy and support in all other aspects of their lives. Sullivan cites the expectation within traditional “12-step” approaches, which impose a contemplative path to recovery on drug users experiencing homelessness, trauma, generational drug use, or disruptions of the justice system. “AA and the 12 Steps have been really powerful for many people ... but you can’t focus on yourself and your spiritual life if your body is distracted, and you just want to leave treatment.”

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Tax Changes Coming in 2022
Last month the IRS announced annual inflation adjustments on more than 60 tax provisions for the tax year 2022. Revenue Procedure 2021-45 provides more details about these modifications that will apply to the 2022 tax year, for taxes filed in 2023. The Evangelical Council for Financial Accountability (ECFA) shares these key takeaways:

  • Basic tax rates have not changed for 2022 although income brackets for each rate have.
  • The standard deduction for married couples filing jointly for tax year 2022 rises to $25,900. For single taxpayers, the standard deduction rises to $12,950.
  • The annual gift exclusion for calendar year 2022 will be $16,000 vs. $15,000 in 2021.
  • The monthly limitation for the qualified transportation fringe benefit and the monthly limitation for qualified parking increases to $280.
  • For taxable years beginning in 2022, there will be a $2,850 limit on voluntary employee salary reductions for contributions to health flexible spending arrangements. If the plan permits carryover of unused amounts, the maximum carryover is $570.

Click here for more information on these annual inflation adjustments for tax year 2022.

 

Strong Response to Popular Fundraising Event
The Nonprofit Times reports that approximately 35 million U.S. adults participated in the 2021 GivingTuesday event, representing a six percent increase over 2020 participation. The $2.7 billion donated reflects a nine percent increase over the amount brought in last year (about $2.47 billion, including both online and offline gifts), and 37 percent more than what came in during the 2019 event ($1.97 billion). Although worldwide numbers have not come in yet, organizers feel that the national totals indicate a continuing trend of charitable generosity.

 

Cybersecurity a Top Concern
Ransomware, phishing, wire fraud, and the number of data breaches in 2021 soared past that of 2020. Earlier this year, the firm Cybersecurity Ventures predicted that, by 2031, there will be a new attack every two seconds as ransomware perpetrators progressively refine their extortion activities. According to a report from Palo Alto Networks, the average ransomware payment climbed 82 percent to a record $570,000 in the first half of 2021 from $312,000 in 2020. Brian Merriam, area senior vice president with Merriam-Gallagher Insurance, will devote his January/February column in Instigate magazine to best practices you can implement to keep your ministry out of cyber trouble. What’s more, members can download Gallagher’s white paper, covering ransomware concerns and underwriting expectations, from our website.

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Collaborating at the Top
The Canadian Housing Minister and Mental Health and Addictions Minister (in Canada, ministers head government departments) talked recently with The Canadian Press about an opportunity to work together to address the overlap between homelessness and mental health across the country. Housing Minister Ahmed Hussen said that he and Mental Health and Addictions Minister Carolyn Bennett will work together closely to make sure that the government understands how important it is that those experiencing mental health challenges receive proper attention in any housing policy. The national co-investment fund, a Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation-administered fund that works on affordable housing, also funds projects that incorporate physical and mental health, including counseling and substance use services. Bennett added that both the mental health and national housing strategy should be executed from the bottom up. “It is about working with those with expertise, but also lived experience, for us to be able to identify the things that are working and be able to scale them into a real integrated strategy,” she said.

 

A Shift in the War on Drugs
Since the legalization of marijuana in 2018, the Canadian government has gradually inched toward a softer drug policy. Just last week, the federal government introduced legislation that would repeal mandatory minimum penalties for drug offenses. Although Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has not gone so far as to decriminalize drug possession and consumption across the board, his administration has shown an increased focus on treating drug use as a health issue instead of a criminal one. Experts believe that decriminalizing drugs and regulating their contents would result in fewer people overdosing. Dr. Leslie Buckley, an addictions psychiatrist and the chief of addictions at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, stated that the current approach has not worked and recommended more accessible treatment, more harm reduction, and more supervised consumption sites. Dr. Andrew Hathaway, a professor of sociology, added that government funding of social programs would enable those struggling with addictions to get to the root causes of their addictions.

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Praise for Nimble First-Responders
According to a recently released Hispanic Federation (HF) report titled Hope & Unity: Latino CBOs Respond to COVID-19, HF’s COVID-related grantmaking allowed more than 350 nonprofits in 38 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia to reach more than 10 million of the most overlooked and vulnerable people in the country with emergency services, food and housing assistance, and healthcare during the last 20 months of crisis. These organizations unilaterally served individuals regardless of health insurance or documentation, and did not discriminate against mixed-status families, minors, pregnant women, domestic violence survivors, farmworkers, day laborers, or seniors. Thanks to their nimble organizing and culturally responsive leadership, these Latino community-based organizations stretched the funding they received to address such emergency needs as hunger, vaccine distribution, cash assistance, and housing relief.

 

Disparity Noted Among Educators
Elementary and secondary teachers in the American public school system show far less racial and ethnic diversity than their students, according to an article from Pew Research Center. Although the number of Black, Hispanic, and Asian American teachers has continued to rise over the decades, it has not kept up with the rapid growth reflected in their student bodies. In 2017–2018, the most recent school year that the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) has published data, almost 80 percent of teachers identified as non-Hispanic White. The same data indicates that only seven percent of public-school teachers were Black, only nine percent were Hispanic, and only two percent were Asian American. Fewer than one in ten teachers were either Black (seven percent), Hispanic (nine percent), or Asian American (two percent). By comparison, in the same period, these educators served student bodies made up of about 27 percent Hispanics, 15 percent Blacks, and five percent Asians.
Consider: How does the racial and ethnic diversity of your staff and volunteers reflect the populations you serve?

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Market Street

Check out the most recent list of openings on our Careers page.

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God Sees the Lowly

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.
Luke 2:8–11

Christmas proves that God takes a deep interest in the so-called “unimportant people.” In the cultural context, shepherds were nomadic lowlifes. When the gospels tell us that there were shepherds living out in the fields, that’s exactly what it means. They had to live by their wits in a rugged wilderness. They were rough folk, always on the move, never putting down roots. When shepherds passed through town, people warned each other and kept a respectable distance.

God sent a myriad of singing angels to announce the Good News to disliked and distrusted shepherds. Once again, the Lord of the universe demonstrated that He intentionally reaches out to the underprivileged, the dispossessed, the shunned, the lowly, and those without hope.

Why a dramatic visit from angelic messengers? Because the people of Israel in those days had not heard a prophetic voice for hundreds of years. They were dull of hearing; their hearts were calloused. Their interest in the things of God was at a low ebb.

These least and lost shepherds listened to the angels’ message, and in the midst of this encounter, “the glory of the Lord shone around them.” Although the shepherds probably had been told over and over again that they were worthless, God in His glory shined upon them.

Written by Stuart and Jill Briscoe © Telling the Truth. Used with permission.

To contribute: If you would like to write a devotional thought for StreetLight, please make it about 200 words, include at least one Bible verse or passage, and submit via e-mail.

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Street Smart is provided to you as a member service of Citygate Network, and is published on the 1st and 15th of each month (unless those dates fall on a weekend or holiday). The content does not necessarily represent the views of or imply endorsement by Citygate Network. To submit items for publication, email editor@citygatenetwork.org