Topeka Justice, Unity, and Ministry Project
The Topeka Justice, Unity, & Ministry Project (Topeka JUMP) is a congregation-based justice ministry organization that brings together religious congregations in the Topeka/Shawnee County area to do justice. In contrast to charities or direct service organizations, Topeka JUMP seeks improvements to systems (e.g., school system, criminal justice system, etc.). Unlike advocacy organizations, Topeka JUMP trains religious leaders to determine the issues that the organization will act on and empowers its members to speak on their own behalf. Topeka JUMP is also unique in its mission to regularly produce large and growing numbers of organized people to Nehemiah Assemblies where solutions to crucial community problems are brought forward and negotiated with appropriate officials. By marshalling this form of people-based power, Topeka JUMP expects to make systemic improvements in the county that are long-term and sustainable.
In 2014, we challenged USD 501 Superintendent, Dr. Julie Ford, to address the needs of at-risk students by expanding Communities in Schools, a program that provides support services in school to increase academic achievement and prevent drop out. With a lot of follow-up, four more schools – with more than 1,000 additional at-risk students – now have access to support services. In 2017, 83% of children with Communities in Schools showed academic improvement.
In 2015, we found that more than 10,000 people with mental illness are overburdened by crisis. The result of a “crisis centered strategy” is a revolving door, placing people in the emergency room, homeless shelter, and county jail – costing tax payers $7.5 million a year. After pressing Shawnee County Officials and Valeo Behavioral Health Care, in 2016 and 2017, the County Commission restored $300,000 of a previous budget cut to mental health services. Today, Valeo is partnering with the Department of Corrections to expand evidence-based Supported Employment to people getting out of jail and working to get back on their feet.
SAFE & AFFORDABLE HOUSING (ongoing)
In 2015, we discovered that there were over 7,000 families with a severe housing need (either rent distressed or living in unsafe conditions). We are currently working with the City of Topeka to develop a plan to increase access to safe and affordable housing for low-income families. We are challenging the Topeka City Council to implement and fund an Affordable Housing Trust Fund that will increase the production and preservation of safe, affordable housing each year. In 2018, we won a commitment of 81 new rental units for low-income families.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION (ongoing)
In 2017, our research revealed that people without cars are trapped in minimum wage jobs within the city limits. Topeka Metro does not have service outside the Topeka city limits where major employers like Target Distribution Center and Mars Chocolate North America are located. That year, we challenged Topeka Metro General Manger Susan Duffy to develop a plan to get people to work out in the county. As a result, we won a pilot program called South Topeka Workforce Access or SOTO, a cheaper alternative to taxicabs or Uber that gets people to and from work at companies in Forbes Field and the South Topeka Industrial Park. Today, we are working with Susan Duffy to win a permanent program that gets people to work all over the county.
Read more about Topeka JUMP in the news.
- Apostolic Church of Jesus Christ
- Asbury Mt. Olive UMC
- Central Congregational UCC
- El Shaddai Ministries
- First Baptist
- First United Methodist
- Gethsemane Worship Center
- Grace Cathedral
- In God’s House
- Inward Faith Outreach Ministries
- Lowman UMC
- Mother Teresa of Calcutta
- Most Pure Heart of Mary
- New Hope and Love Community Church
- Southern Hills Mennonite
- Tecumseh UMC
- Trinity Presbyterian
- Westminster Presbyterian
Shanae’ M. Elem