Walking the streets of the Southwest side of Syracuse every day is an ordinary practice for Kevin Frank, executive director of Brady Faith Center (Brady Faith). He stands for the values of building kinship among himself, Brady Faith and the community. The organization emphasizes that to build trust with the community, you must be within it.
“It’s not doing for, it is being with,” said Frank. “We look at relationship building as our core outreach and meeting people where they are at.”
Brady Faith works to support the needs of Syracuse’s Southwest neighborhood by providing human development, educational and religious programs to residents. The center relies on a small staff and various community volunteers to fuel its mission of outreach.
From listening to residents, Brady Faith identified a need to create equitable change for women, men, and their families. To help, they set out to learn from Homeboy Industries, a Los-Angeles based organization that provides training and support to formerly gang-involved and previously incarcerated individuals, allowing them to redirect their lives and become contributing members of their community, often through entrepreneurship.
Every year the organization hosts the Annual Global Homeboy Network Conference to educate other charitable groups about what has worked most effectively.
“It is just an amazing conference that communicates best practices from around the world for working with marginalized groups through entrepreneurship, healing, and support,” said Frank. “That really makes an impact in the lives of families, communities, and neighborhoods.”
We awarded a grant for nine Brady Faith team members to attend the conference. Frank says the funding not only supported the trip, but showed its dedication to improving the Southwest neighborhood for the better.
“We are really thankful for the Community Foundation for believing in us and supporting us on this journey,” he said. “The conference provided us with the building blocks to build a similar program locally and further our impact in the Syracuse community.”
Brady Faith intends to take what it learned and introduce entrepreneurial opportunities to community members with a criminal history or of limited resources. Frank explained that many of those individuals that face this prejudice are being denied employment, housing, and even education.
“People who are in this category are often people of tremendous faith, courage, and tenacity,” said Frank. “Some of them are the most spiritual and empathetic people I’ve ever met and have so much talent and many gifts to offer.”
By investing in these individuals, Frank believes that together they can create a pathway out of poverty where people can thrive, grow, and transform. The Homeboy models have proven to be successful and Frank strongly believes that they will do the same for the Syracuse community.