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Leaders and Lunch: New Strategies in the Fight Against Poverty

On Wednesday, July 12, Chevy Chase Trust proudly hosted “Leaders & Lunch: New Strategies in the Fight Against Poverty,” the fourth in a series we started two years ago to bring together clients and community leaders on topics of interest to our clients.

The event featured two special guests with innovative approaches to lifting our neediest neighbors out of poverty: Shane Rock, CEO of Interfaith Works, a nonsectarian coalition of congregations of diverse faiths working to help the homeless and underserved, and Nicole Lynn Lewis, the CEO of Generation Hope, an organization with a goal of helping teen parents attend and graduate college.

Shane Rock began with a personal story about his upbringing and the lessons he learned from his parents who owned the only grocery store in town.  When neighbors didn’t have the money to pay their grocery bills his parents took IOUs, a practice that stayed with Shane as he forged a career path focused on social services and advocacy. He landed at Interfaith Works in July of 2014 after serving as Director of Operations for social services at the Jewish Social Service Agency in Rockville, MD.  Shane described how Interfaith Works plans to scale their impact and improve more lives through a nontraditional approach. In a partnership with the Family Independence Initiative, families in need will learn to lift themselves out of poverty by working with similarly situated families; these communities will also be granted access to the two most important tools they are missing currently- social connections and financial support.

Nicole Lynn Lewis, a CNN Hero, started Generation Hope to help teen parents go on to obtain college degrees. Having experienced an unexpected pregnancy as a senior in high school, followed by homelessness and hunger as a teen mother, she went on to graduate from the College of William and Mary. Nicole became determined to help others who faced the same challenges. Since its inception in 2010, Generation Hope has served 100 young mothers and fathers who have attended 18 different colleges across the region. The young parents have earned 30 college degrees, and more than 80% of these graduates are living above the federal poverty line, working full-time or attending graduate school.

Monsignor John Enzler, CEO of Catholic Charities, also participated in the discussion, contributing the insight he has gained from his work with the underserved community.