The Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation announced its inaugural cohort of the Micah Fellows Program. The new initiative, the Micah Fellows Program, in partnership with the Faith Matters Network and The Methodist Foundation of Arkansas, was created to help Arkansas faith leaders champion economic justice and anti-poverty efforts in their communities.
"Governor Rockefeller's mission to bring equity to all Arkansans was fueled by his faith, including the charge 'to act justly, and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God' from Micah 6:8," said Reverend Shantell Hinton Hill, WRF equity officer. "This scripture continues to inspire programs like Micah Fellows."
The Micah Fellows Program is a nine-month initiative focused on nurturing moral leadership around anti-poverty work in Arkansas. According to a 2019 study in Arkansas commissioned by Entergy Arkansas, United Way, and WRF, more than 40 percent of households in the state are currently considered ALICE (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) with incomes above the Federal Poverty Line but less than the essential cost of living. "Our state's faith leaders are on the frontlines of anti-poverty efforts," said Reverend Ryan D. Davis, associate pastor at Bullock Temple C.M.E. Church. "This fellowship program will tap into that shared knowledge to amplify and deepen the impact of our work."
The Micah Fellows Program is funded by a $200,000 investment by the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation and an additional $50,000 from The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. Faith leaders and their communities will use a significant portion of these funds for anti-poverty and economic justice projects across the state.
"Through collaboration and study, fellows will explore theological frameworks to support their anti-poverty work," said Reverend Jen Bailey, founder and executive director of the Faith Matters Network. "This program will equip them with the necessary tools and resources to educate and organize others to help achieve economic equity in Arkansas."
The inaugural class of Micah Fellows will participate in media, advocacy, and narrative training from September 2021 to May 2022. During that time, they will also have access to micro-grants for regional economic inclusion and justice projects.
"We are thrilled to partner with the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation on the Micah Fellows Program," said Rev. J. Wayne Clark, President and CEO of The Methodist Foundation for Arkansas. "Together, we hope to diminish and eventually eradicate the suffering many Arkansas families currently face."
There are 6 Methodist affiliated fellows.
Inaugural Micah Fellows
- Dr. Anika Whitfield, Grassroots Arkansas
- Cai Lane, Fellowship North
- Casaundra Harris, Great Expectations World Outreach
- Christina Foor, Christian Community Development Association
- Christina Williams, Circles NWA
- Dandre Jones, Fayetteville City Council
- Daniel Theuson, Mountain Home First United Methodist Church
- Dante’ Shelton, First Assembly of God, North Little Rock
- Dr. Denise Donnell, Justalk Consulting
- Pastor Don Morrow, First Christian Church and Waterway
- Pastor Eduardo Abril, Iglesia El Centro Cristiano De DeQueen
- Lupita Chavarria, Winfield United Methodist Church
- Mary Carol Pederson, CityChurch Network
- Natasha Murray, Wesley Foundation, UA- Pine Bluff
- Patti Butler, Wesley-Conway/Plummerville UMC
- Samantha Meadors, The Delta Project, Arkansas Conference of the UMC
- Sarah Ellzey, Trumann/Lepanto UMC
- Shawn Schwartzman, Potter’s House, NWA
- Victoria Mays, New Millennium Church