Anita Draper
Catholic Herald staff

The Wisconsin Native Loan Fund is the latest area organization to benefit from the diocese’s help in securing grant funding through the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ Catholic Campaign for Human Development.

Designed to educate Native communities about financial literacy and provide housing, consumer and business loans, the nonprofit Wisconsin Native Loan Fund is headquartered in Lac du Flambeau, with a second office in Oneida. Members of Wisconsin’s 11 tribes or their descendents are eligible to take classes and secure loans through the organization.

Last year, the Catholic Campaign for Human Development awarded $60,000 to the nonprofit. The CCHD directors for the Dioceses of Superior and Green Bay collaborated with the organization to apply for the grant; this year’s $65,000 grant was a renewal from last year and was slightly larger because the Native Loan Fund developed a more robust business plan, according to the Diocese of Superior’s Director of Stewardship and Development, Steve Tarnowski.

Tarnowski also said if the nonprofit meets certain requirements, they can apply for a third year of funding, which will also be their final year of eligibility.

The CCHD is part of the U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops’ National Concern Collection in June.
“We send the parish collection funds to the national office to distribute as grant funding nationally,” Tarnowski explained. “I’m generalizing, but our local collection brings in about $19,000 yearly.”

Tarnowski outlined other grant-funded projects benefiting Native communities in the diocese.
“I’m working on a yearly grant now through the Black and Indian Mission Office that provides Catholic Education and Evangelization funding to our parishes and schools with Native American students and parishioners,” he said. “Also, I have two grants through Catholic Extension that provide funding for Native American ministry in the Bayfield Cluster as well as for Sr. Phyllis (Wilhelm’s) work as pastoral associate in Odanah.”

In the past, the diocese has also sought grants to fund Comunidad Hispana in Merrill, which helps the local Spanish-speaking community, and the Ashland Area Development Corporation.

Tarnowski welcomes the opportunity to shine a spotlight on the church’s aid to communities in need.

“In many ways, the good work and generosity of Catholic parishioners through these CCHD projects go unnoticed,” he observed. “It’s also considerable work done by the Department of Development and the diocese to reach those who lack resources and need economic assistance. It’s an example of how the Catholic Church reaches beyond the local parish to the greater community and the world.”