What makes Matthew 25 unique?
At Matthew 25, we believe in the God-given potential of all people and places. Our work often takes place in neighborhoods some would describe as rundown, low-income, dangerous or plagued with problems. Instead, we choose to see possibilities, and to build upon the good.
A historic, devastating flood can turn into an opportunity for neighbors to support neighbors. Vacant lots can become Iowa’s first urban farm. A dilapidated building can become a place to serve the community. People receiving free meals learn how to prepare meals for others. A vacant building on a high-crime corner can become a new grocery store and community hub.
Thriving, connected communities with sharing economies, where all people are valued, talents are multiplied, and neighbors live healthy, nourished lives full of opportunity.
To improve the health of people and neighborhoods by investing in quality affordable housing, healthy food, educational opportunities, and community
Our Guiding Principles
- Positive relationships are the building blocks for community.
- It’s important to focus on the strengths of people and neighborhoods that can be built upon.
- Faith requires action.
- We must build a sustainable, inclusive future.
- Crossing boundaries and building bridges among diverse groups strengthens all.
- Healthy communities focus on empowerment.
- Effective mentoring and teaching changes lives.
Why & How We Invest In Neighborhoods
A recent Harvard study on future success in life shows that children born into similar socioeconomic situations have significantly different chances of success in life based on the neighborhood where they are raised. If we want healthier people with a greater chance of success in life, we need healthy neighborhoods.
The building blocks for healthy living and healthy communities include good food options, safe and healthy homes, opportunities for walking and fitness, social connections with neighbors, empowerment through education, and the ability of residents to drive their own community’s future.
Neighborhoods with dilapidated houses, many vacant lots, minimal commercial investment, few healthy food options and lack of social connections can become like an infection that spreads throughout a community. Crime goes up while property values go down. Residents become less likely to take a walk or engage with their neighbors. People have increased health problems, which causes other problems such as decreased drive and energy, and increased healthcare costs.
At the same time, the power of one committed neighbor moving into a new or revitalized home can ripple throughout a neighborhood. Reduction of blight leads to increased neighborhood pride, and residents feel encouraged to fix up their own homes. Making healthy food more accessible increases healthy eating, which in turn helps improve the physical and mental health of residents. Increased commercial investment leads to more people moving into a neighborhood, which drives more commercial investment.
Matthew 25 understands the connection between healthy neighborhoods and increased opportunities for residents. For nearly two decades, we have taken a holistic approach to neighborhood revitalization, specifically focused on social determinants of health. Our work follows the asset-based community development (ABCD) model. At its core, ABCD has shown that the most cost-effective and successful change comes from within a neighborhood and builds upon existing community strengths.
Throughout our history, Matthew 25 has assessed which areas seem to be the biggest drivers of improved opportunities for neighborhood residents. Experience and data have shown that housing, food, and education, driven by effective community engagement, have a large impact on the overall health and resiliency of a community. This has led us to focus on four pillars of growing strong neighborhoods.
We support access to attractive, mixed-income, healthy housing, which provides stability for homeowners and the neighborhood. In taking a holistic neighborhood approach, we have developed a toolbox of housing solutions. This includes building new homes, rehabbing existing housing, providing volunteer support to homeowners, and operating a tool library where people can access tools and information.
We support a healthy food culture by increasing opportunities to grow, share, purchase and eat good food within the neighborhood. If you come into Groundswell Cafe or the Cultivate Hope Corner Store, you can choose to give out of your abundance to help others have access to healthy food, or you can choose to receive low-cost or free healthy food for yourself.
Knowledge is power. When people have access to expertise on growing food, cooking, doing DIY housing projects with low-cost tools, they learn how to do what is best for themselves.
We connect neighbors and community members in order to increase social cohesion, happiness and public safety in the neighborhood.