Funds Available for Chicago-Area Church Accessibility Projects

Post a Comment » Written on January 14th, 2008     
Filed under: News
CHICAGO, IL (January 14, 2008) – Individual grants of up to $30,000 are available from the Retirement Research Foundation (RRF) for Chicago-area churches interested in making accessibility improvements to their facilities, with the first of two application deadlines on April 11.

The Accessible Faith Grants are designed to encourage facility improvements that allow older adults and people with disabilities to participate more fully in the programs, services, and activities of the facilities provided by grant applicants. A total of $300,000 is available during 2008.

Houses of worship in Cook, Lake, and DuPage counties in Illinois are eligible to apply for a grant, which can be awarded for up to 50 percent of a project’s total cost, for a maximum of $30,000.

Accessible Faith Grants may be used for the following purposes:
•    Construction – Design and construction of accessibility improvements such as elevators, platform lifts, inclined lifts, permanent ramps, widening doorways, or restroom renovations
•    Equipment – Purchase and installation of program-related equipment such as assistive listening systems, or automatic door openers – both in worship spaces and other areas where programs take place

Eligibility requirements include registration as a certified 501(c)(3) religious organization under the rules of the U.S. Internal Revenue Service; being located within Cook, Lake, or DuPage counties in Illinois; providing or hosting programs and activities – beyond worship services – that benefit older adults; demonstrating a need for financial assistance to carry out the accessibility project; demonstrating the ability to raise sufficient funds to complete the project if awarded a grant; and owning the facility where improvements would be made.

While the first application deadline is April 11, a second deadline of June 27 also will be observed. Grant notification will be approximately five months following each deadline with funding available one month after notification.

Projects that meet the following criteria will be given priority, according to RRF rules:

•    Congregations that have a large number of older adults and have programs in addition to worship services
•    Congregations that provide space for outside organizations having programs or activities that are geared toward or involve older adults
•    Congregations that demonstrate financial need; that is, congregations unable to carry out the project without outside funding assistance, but with the ability to obtain remaining funds sufficient to undertake the project if a grant is awarded
•    Specific, intentional accessibility improvements rather than overall facility renovation
•    Construction projects with accessibility designs that are sensitively integrated into the existing architecture

The maximum grant amount is $30,000. Projects consisting of planning/architectural design or purchasing and installing equipment must be completed within 12 months of the grant award, while construction projects must be completed within 18 months of the grant award. The second application deadline – and the final one for 2006 – is June 30. To learn more about the grant application process, rules and requirements, please see Accessible Faith Grants.

Faith Accessibility Grants represent one of several grant opportunities offered by RRF that are available to institutions throughout the United States, including churches. Since the program began five years ago, the foundation has awarded 78 grants totaling $1.7 million to religious congregations to help make their facilities more accessible.

Established by the late John D. MacArthur and endowed in 1978, the foundation invests approximately $9 million each year to support efforts to develop innovative solutions to the challenges facing older Americans.

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