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Catholic Church withdraws university YMCA’s $60,000 grant offer

The YMCA has yet to take an official stance on marriage equality, but the Y at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is affiliated with a group who does openly support it—the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights (ICIRR). The "Catholic Campaign for Human Rights," a non-profit, tax-exempt group, provides funding to non-political groups the church wishes to support. In return, the groups receiving funding are prohibited from supporting agendas that conflict with Catholic Church's principles; the Catholic Church's decision to rescind the University YMCA’s $60,000 grant, has left a deep deficit in their funding.

The current plan is to raise the money through community fundraising, thereby enabling the Y to continue their work with the local immigrant community. The Catholic Campaign for Human Development has donated to the University Y since 2010, and gave nearly $38,000 last year. Their contribution was set to skyrocket to a generous $60,000—that is, until the University Y refused to accept the church’s ultimatum and sever ties with ICIRR.

Last spring, the Church sent a statement to Mike Doyle, the executive director of University Y, insisting that Doyle testify against the organization’s involvement with ICIRR. At a board meeting in September, the Y voted to notify the Church that they would not be ending their association with the ICIRR.

“We were initially notified by the Church that our funding would be increasing from $37,500 last year to $60,000 this year—a reflection of what we have been able to accomplish and the impact we have in our community,” said Doyle, according to a press release sent to 429Magazine.

“Unfortunately, this year’s grant had an additional caveat. Before we could receive funding, we had to revoke our membership in the Illinois Coalition for Immigrant and Refugee Rights,” added Doyle. “The news was devastating and threatens to undermine the work we have been doing.”

The YMCA has been an immense and highly beneficial resource to many student organizations and events, including blood drives and guest lecturers. Because of its commitment to aid and serve the community, the Y opted not to disaffiliate with ICIRR—an organization that is, according to its website, dedicated to promoting the rights of immigrants and refugees to full and equal participation in the civil, cultural, social, and political life of our diverse society.

“ICIRR does incredible work and plays a critical role in helping us be more effective advocates in our community—their support is essential to what we do,” said Doyle. “We were surprised the Bishops felt compelled to cut off funding for a worthy project just because one of the groups we work with disagrees with the church. It is unfortunate but we are determined to move forward. This work is too important.”

To help the University YMCA replenish their funding, you can make a donation here.

According to the Chicago Tribune, several other organizations abandoned the ICIRR after the church threatened to rescind funding in order to protect their grants, including the Interfaith Leadership Project ($20,000) and Most Blessed Trinity ($20,000).

University YMCA was one of nine organizations that opted to stay with the ICIRR and forgo their donations from the Church. Others included the Resurrection Project ($75,000) and the United African Organization ($30,000).

429Magazine

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