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The Oikos Institute for Social Impact (Oikos), an innovative nonprofit dedicated to empowering faith communities and BIPOC anchor institutions and community development, is thrilled to announce its ambitious plans for 2024, marking a significant milestone in its mission to catalyze communal transformation and economic renewal. The Oikos Institute for Social Impact addresses the challenges of gentrification, unemployment, and shifting demographics by empowering institutions to strategically leverage their assets. Through Oikos programs, congregations reassess their missional, theological and cultural foundations, exploring how to strengthen their connection to communities and maximize their Faith, Intellectual, Social, and Human Capital. In collaboration with seminaries, universities, and foundations, Oikos facilitates participatory learning experiences, guiding institutions to understand their stories, practices, theologies and mission in the context of local changes. The programs aim to align congregational identity, vocation, and public witness, fostering sustainability in evolving environments. Ultimately, the goal is twofold: to empower institutions to use their assets for mission while embracing their role as impactful economic anchor institutions within their communities. Oikos currently has cohorts in Atlanta, Chicago, DC, Dallas, and Nashville and are planning to launch new cohorts in Detroit, New Orleans, Philadelphia and start a second cohort in Chicago in 2024, expanding its reach and impact across diverse communities.

Highlighting Oikos' commitment to practical application, two compelling case studies that build on the case study completed on Bethel A.M.E. Church-Morristown, NJ, pastored by Oikos’ Co-Founder Pastor Sidney Williams. These studies will vividly illustrate what "Fishing Differently™" means, providing tangible examples for congregations to apply these concepts in their unique contexts.

Furthermore, in a groundbreaking partnership, Oikos will join forces with the Smart Surfaces Coalition and Metropolitan A.M.E. Church in Washington, DC, to champion an environmental justice initiative targeting urban surface improvement for 45 million people (about twice the population of New York). Focusing on enhancing reflective, porous, and green surfaces, especially in marginalized neighborhoods, this initiative aims to mitigate heat, flooding, pollution, and energy use. Oikos will connect many of its cohort churches to this impactful social work, furthering its commitment to communal transformation and economic renewal.

A pivotal move for Oikos in 2024 is the strategic decision to obtain Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) status. Recognizing the unique challenges faced by the communities it serves, Oikos seeks to harness the power of its assets as a catalyst for communal transformation and economic renewal. This transition aligns Oikos' financial activities more closely with its mission, providing flexible and patient capital to support pre-development initiatives. Rooted in a deep understanding of community needs and cultural competence, Oikos aims to go beyond traditional banking services, fostering holistic community development.

Building on the success of its inaugural event, Oikos proudly announces the 2nd Fishing Differently™ Conference, scheduled for early September in Dallas, TX. This conference will once again bring together place-based funders with faith-based leaders, facilitating collaborations to empower faith communities and BIPOC anchor institutions. The conference will explore innovative approaches to asset harnessing, we will celebrate the faithful through Social Impact Awards, and identify an individual deserving of Oikos’ Lifetime Achievement Award based on their exceptional contributions in the fields of social impact, social justice, economic empowerment, and ministry.

Under the dynamic leadership of Executive Director and Co-Founder, Rev. Dr. Reginald Blount, and CEO and Co-Founder Rev. Dr. Sidney Williams, Oikos looks forward to an impactful year ahead, committed to making a difference in the lives of the communities it serves. For more information and updates, please visit https://oikosinstitute.org/

Also, contact Athena Pirylis-Johnson, Director of Communications and Client Relations: info@Oikosinstitute.org

The Oikos Institute, Social impact, faith communities, BIPOC, Programs


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