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GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (Nov. 16) - Emmanuel Gospel Center, a Boston-based nonprofit, has won the 2004 Samaritan Award in recognition of its work in economic development and community-based lending for the poor. The Samaritan Award, which includes a $10,000 cash prize, is sponsored by Acton Institute's Center for Effective Compassion.

Emmanuel Gospel Center helps low- to moderate-income families with financial literacy skills, savings planning for home ownership, small business development and higher education. The center's privately funded Network Training & Savings Program, which employs church facilitators, also works with banks to help people build a sound financial condition, sometimes by repairing poor credit histories. Emmanuel Gospel works in partnership with Enterprise Development International of Fairfax, Va., which provides grants and micro-economic training in the United States and abroad.

Rev. Dr. Brian Gearin, program director for Emmanuel Gospel, said the Samaritan Award is a strong endorsement of the benefits of financial literacy training. He's hoping to reach more needy people with the help of the $10,000 cash prize.

“We can now look at expanding the program beyond the Boston area,” Gearin said. “The award really validates the work we've been doing.”

Emmanuel Gospel's efficient use of resources, low overhead and delivery of services in a direct and personal way is a model of sound management, said Karen Woods, director of Acton's Center for Effective Compassion. “Emmanuel Gospel shows how much can be accomplished when good people are in charge of a really effective program,” she said.

Emmanuel Gospel was joined by nine national honorees in the 2004 Samaritan Award program: Urban Youth Initiative Program, Memphis, Tenn.; Providence Network Program, Denver, Colo.; Promise of Hope, Inc., Dudley, Ga.; Baxter Community Center, Grand Rapids, Mich.; Lives Under Construction Boys Ranch, Lampe, Mo.; Somebody Cares Tampa Bay, Clearwater, Fla.; Union Gospel Mission Twin Cities, St. Paul, Minn.; Latin American Missionary Program, Gainesville, Ga.; and York Union Rescue Mission Program, York, Pa.

Honorees will be awarded various consultation services to assist them in the delivery of effective programming. Samaritan partners providing services include Calvin Edwards & Co., Atlanta; The Iserv Co., Grand Rapids, Mich.; NPower Michigan, Detroit and Grand Rapids; and Performance Results Inc., Laytonsville, Md.

The Samaritan Award is based on several criteria, including financial stewardship, evaluation of results, and the incorporation of faith into programming. The evaluation of Samaritan Award candidates draws its overall philosophy from the seven principles of effective compassion formulated by Dr. Marvin Olasky.

Formal presentation of the Samaritan Award will take place at the Toward Effective Compassion Conference, hosted by Acton's Center for Effective Compassion, in Washington on Dec. 2. The conference, featuring leading speakers from the philanthropy world, will be held at the Kellogg Conference Center at Gallaudet University. Speakers include Olasky, senior fellow at the Acton Institute and editor-in-chief of World magazine; Robert Woodson, Executive Director of the National Center for Neighborhood Enterprise; Dr. Amy Sherman, Senior Fellow at the Hudson Institute and director of its Faith in Communities Initiative; Stanley Carlson-Theis, director of the Civitas Program in Faith in Public Affairs at the Center for Public Justice; and Pat Fagan, the William H.G. FitzGerald Research Fellow in Family and Cultural Issues at The Heritage Foundation.

About the Acton Institute

With its commitment to pursue a society that is free and virtuous, the Acton Institute for the Study of Religion and Liberty is a leading voice in the national environmental and social policy debate. The Acton Institute is uniquely positioned to comment on the sound economic and moral foundations necessary to sustain humane environmental and social policies.

The Acton Institute is a nonprofit, ecumenical think tank located in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The Institute works internationally to "promote a free and virtuous society characterized by individual liberty and sustained by religious principles."

Interviews with Institute staff may be arranged by contacting John Couretas at (616) 454-3080 or at