Catholic Charities of Omaha’s Microbusiness Program Recognized as National Model with $333,000 Grant Award

For Immediate Release

Media Contact: Rita Hamele
402.680.1038 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Catholic Charities of Omaha’s Microbusiness Program Recognized as National Model with $333,000 Grant Award

Catholic Charities of Omaha has received a $333,000 Innovation Challenge grant from Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) to extend its Microbusiness Program to six other Catholic Charities across the nation.  The award announcement on September 22, 2020, was the culmination of a year-long process in which Catholic Charities agencies nationwide competed for $1 million to fund their fresh solution to help alleviate, reduce or eliminate poverty. 

Nine finalists were named in May of this year, three each in the Small, Medium and Large Agency category (based on number of full-time employees). Catholic Charities of Omaha competed in the Small Agency category with Catholic Charities of Central Texas and Catholic Charities Diocese of Evansville.  Each finalist pitched their “Big Idea” to a panel of judges via a 5-minute video, followed by a live Q & A session, in front of a national audience at virtual finals held on September 14, 2020. 

Catholic Charities of Omaha received recognition in the Small Agency category for its Microbusiness Program “Erasing Poverty through Entrepreneurship in Catholic Charities Communities Across America” - a three-year project that delivers an online microbusiness model to entrepreneurs at six Catholic Charities agencies across the U.S., provides low- to moderate-income adults with business knowledge, and resources and capital to become small business owners.

“We are both proud and humbled by this amazing recognition of our Microbusiness Program, which for over 25 years has been helping budding entrepreneurs in our community realize their dream of owning their own business,” said Fr. Mike Eckley, Executive Director for Catholic Charities of Omaha. “Yearly, our Microbusiness Program serves over 650 individuals. Over the past 10 years alone, we have helped create over 1,500 jobs, and deployed over $1 million in microloan funds. But, more importantly, we have helped people find a path to a better life.” 

Guadalupe Millan, Director of Catholic Charities’ Microbusiness and Asset Development Program said, “This program has had a transformative impact on not only these business owners, but their families, their neighbors, and the greater community. And that is the model that we are going to take out to communities across the nations so that other individuals, families, and communities can experience this transformation.” 

“We are really proud of the work that the Microbusiness Program is doing to help lift people out of poverty.  This Program is a key piece of all the work we are doing to provide hope and a path forward to those in need in our community,” said Fr. Eckley. 

Winners of $333,000 each in the Medium and Large Agency category, respectively, were Catholic Charities West Virginia, Inc., and Catholic Charities Diocese of Cleveland.

To view Catholic Charities “Big Idea” pitch video go to  For more information about the CCUSA Innovation Challenge visit

About Catholic Charities: Catholic Charities ministers to the greatest and most fundamental needs of our community, serving over 100,000 people in need every year regardless of race, religion, creed, or socioeconomic status.  Since 1926, Catholic Charities has had a rich tradition of serving and advocating for the voiceless, hungry, addicted, abused, and forgotten individuals and families throughout the Omaha Archdiocese’s 23 counties.  Through our Microbusiness and Asset Development Program, Catholic Charities helps hundreds of budding entrepreneurs build, launch, and grow their dream businesses.  This program offers formal training, technical assistance, microloans, financial education, and counseling – key ingredients that help low-income individuals achieve self-sufficiency and financial freedom.  THAT’S THE POWER OF COMMUNITY!  For more information on Catholic Charities, visit


Media Contact

Rita Hamele
Phone: 402.680.1038