Hurricane Katrina victims to benefit from new Habitat for Humanity, Thrivent Financial alliance
Four-year, $100-million program earmarks $5 million to help rebuild Gulf Coast region
MINNEAPOLIS and AMERICUS, Ga. (Sept. 8, 2005) – Habitat for Humanity International and Thrivent Financial for Lutherans today unveiled an unprecedented financial, volunteer and advocacy alliance designed to substantially increase Habitat’s capacity to build more affordable housing. The alliance, called Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity, represents a four-year, $100-million commitment by Thrivent Financial, a not-for-profit Fortune 500 financial services organization. Additionally, in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, Thrivent Financial has earmarked another $5 million to Thrivent Builds to help rebuild homes in the Gulf Coast region.
The new commitment makes Thrivent Financial Habitat’s largest ally in the effort to eliminate substandard housing.
Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity represents a unique alliance between two national nonprofit networks of 1,699 Habitat affiliates and 1,362 Thrivent Financial volunteer chapters. These chapters delivered more than 19 million volunteer hours of community service in 2004. The alliance combats the chronic national and worldwide problem of substandard housing. More than 13 million U.S. households pay more than half of their income for housing. Millions more live in overcrowded conditions or housing with severe physical deficiencies, such as having no hot water, electricity or toilet.
Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity has four major programs:
• A joint major homebuilding initiative that is designed to build up to 500 additional U.S. Habitat for Humanity homes annually by 2008 for families living in substandard housing and engage thousands of volunteers in Habitat builds. Thrivent Financial will fund 70 percent of the cost of each Thrivent Builds home it sponsors. An innovative giving program for Thrivent Financial members that will promote and supplement financial gifts to Habitat for Humanity and help fuel Habitat builds.
• A program to annually build an additional 200 homes internationally by 2008 through short-term international and domestic trips by bringing volunteers and financial support to host communities from Alaska to Zambia to build simple, decent, affordable homes in collaboration with the world’s 2 billion people who lack shelter.
• A national grant program offering approximately six grants of up to $1 million to community organizations, coalitions and nonprofits for projects that will measurably improve entire neighborhoods.
In addition, as part of its mission as a fraternal benefit society, Thrivent Financial will engage and motivate thousands of Americans on the issue of substandard housing through a one-of-a-kind mobile education center (48-foot semi trailer) that will crisscross the nation and give visitors a powerful, interactive experience. The Thrivent Builds Mobile is designed to educate and motivate visitors to support decent, affordable housing.
“For nearly 30 years, Habitat for Humanity has been blessed to have thousands of committed and caring faith, corporate and individual partners,” said Paul Leonard, chief executive officer of Habitat for Humanity International. “Thrivent Financial’s expanded support of our work builds on that strong foundation in ways that are unprecedented in our history. This added financial and volunteer support is a tremendous boost in helping us increase our capacity to serve more families in the United States and around the world. It is also a testament to the vitally important role Thrivent Financial plays in communities.”
“Thrivent Financial is delighted to align itself even more actively with Habitat for Humanity in its mission to eliminate poverty housing,” said Bruce Nicholson, Thrivent Financial chair, president and chief executive officer. “This new alliance represents an opportunity for our nearly 3 million members and other volunteers to take action to solve this problem. It also supports the very foundation of most families’ financial security and stability — having a decent, affordable home to call one’s own.”
Founded in 1902, Thrivent Financial is a fraternal benefit society, a not-for-profit insurance organization designed to help its members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. The organization’s members are organized into 1,362 local volunteer groups called chapters. These chapters meet regularly to carry out a variety of volunteer efforts, fund-raising projects and educational programs to help their communities and people in need.
“Thrivent Builds Homes,” the program through which the Thrivent Financial volunteer network will construct hundreds of U.S. Habitat homes every year, will engage both Thrivent chapters (local service groups made up of Thrivent Financial members) and Habitat for Humanity affiliates (local, independent grassroots organizations operating within Habitat’s framework). Seventy percent of the funding for each Thrivent Builds home will come from Thrivent Financial with 30 percent of the remaining funding coming from the continuing fund-raising efforts of local Thrivent chapters and Habitat for Humanity affiliates. The average cost of a Habitat for Humanity home in the United States ranges from approximately $40,000 to $150,000.
While Nicholson believes the funding by Thrivent Financial to Habitat is important, he says the hundreds of thousands of new volunteers the program will engage will have an equally powerful impact. “From the first nail to the last, building a home with Habitat for Humanity changes lives — including the lives of volunteers,” says Nicholson. “I am confident that ‘Thrivent Builds Homes’ will inspire volunteers to begin a relationship with Habitat for Humanity or deepen an existing one.”
To encourage its members to support Habitat for Humanity through financial contributions, Thrivent Financial is also beginning a program called “Thrivent Builds Giving.” The program will challenge Thrivent Financial members to donate to Habitat for Humanity by adding $1 to every $2 they give, up to $300 per individual annually. The program is similar in design to other Thrivent Financial member-giving programs that promote giving to Lutheran institutions.
Thrivent Financial is also launching “Thrivent Builds Worldwide,” a program offering one- to three-week international and domestic trips that will bring volunteers and financial support to home-building projects in areas where local residents don’t have the resources to fund their own Habitat projects. Thrivent Financial will donate $800 per member to the Habitat for Humanity host affiliate to be used to help offset a member’s trip expenses (not including airfare). In addition, the organization will donate $6,500 to the Habitat for Humanity host affiliate in which a “Thrivent Builds Worldwide” trip takes place to spark future homebuilding projects there. It is expected that at least 200 more homes—in addition to the ones built by trip volunteers—will be constructed using this funding.
Finally, under a fourth program, “Thrivent Builds Neighborhoods,” Thrivent Financial will provide approximately six grants of up to $1 million each to help reduce or eliminate substandard housing in specific U.S. neighborhoods that have significant housing needs. The program will work with local institutions and Habitat affiliates in carrying out this endeavor.
Habitat for Humanity does not give away homes but rather offers homeownership opportunities to families unable to obtain conventional house financing—generally those whose income is 30 percent to 50 percent of the area’s median income. In most cases, prospective U.S. Habitat homeowner families make a $500 down payment and contribute 300 to 500 hours of “sweat equity” on the construction of their home or someone else’s home. Because Habitat homes are largely built using donations of labor, mortgage payments are kept more affordable.
Thrivent Financial and its members have worked with Habitat for Humanity since 1991. Together, they have built more than 500 homes, raised more than $25 million and contributed more than 1.4 million volunteer hours in homebuilding time.
About Habitat for Humanity International
Habitat for Humanity International, based in Americus, Ga., is an ecumenical Christian ministry that welcomes to its work all people dedicated to the cause of eliminating poverty housing. Since 1976, Habitat has built more than 200,000 houses in nearly 100 countries, providing simple, decent and affordable shelter for more than 1 million people. For more information, visit www.habitat.org .
About Thrivent Financial for Lutherans
Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, with main offices in Minneapolis and Appleton, Wis., is a not-for-profit Fortune 500 financial services organization helping nearly 3 million members achieve their financial goals and give back to their communities. Founded to help Lutherans care for and support one another in time of need, Thrivent Financial is a faith-based membership organization guided by Christian principles, and is called to improve the quality of life of its members, their families and their communities by providing solutions that focus on financial security, wellness and caring for others. Thrivent Financial is organized into 1,362 local volunteer groups, called chapters. Chapters meet regularly to carry out a variety of volunteer efforts, fundraising projects and educational programs to help their communities and people in need. Thrivent Financial and its members provide approximately $200 million annually for programs and activities that support congregations, schools, charitable organizations and needy individuals. For more information visit www.thrivent.com .
For photos or b-roll of Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity activities, contact Dave Rustad (612-340-7037) or Duane Bates (229-924-6935 x2541) or visit www.thriventbuilds.com/media/index.html .