RADNOR, Pa. (June 27, 2011) — Catholic Relief Services (CRS) has awarded Cabrini College and Saint Joseph’s University a $14,000 grant to further develop the schools’ efforts in promoting fair trade.
The schools will match the grant to foster greater awareness of fair trade through immersion trips, academic research and coursework. A fair trade consortium also will be formed among 12 area Catholic colleges and universities to support future collaborations to advance fair trade in the region.
As the first college to sign an agreement with CRS to support the organization’s global service initiatives, Cabrini and its students have worked passionately in support of fair trade initiatives.
They have partnered with the College’s dining services provider, Sodexo, to bring to campus fair trade products such as coffee, sugar, chocolate, bananas, teas, quinoa and rice.
Students have traveled to places as far as Guatemala and more locally to Kennett Square to speak with coffee growers and mushroom farm workers, respectively, to see firsthand how they work and earn their wages.
“Cabrini students travel to places like Guatemala to see firsthand the effects of fair trade: families have enough money to build a school and hire teachers for their children, the community has enough money to build a small hospital, and the workers earn enough to stay on their own land and not be forced to look for work elsewhere,” said Dr. Jerry Zurek, chair of communication, who often accompanies students on such international trips.
The primary implementers of the grant at Cabrini are Dr. Mary Harris and Dr. Erin McLaughlin, faculty members in the College’s Business Department, who are developing two courses on fair trade.
At Saint Joseph’s, the primary implementer is Dr. Keith Brown, assistant professor of sociology and author of the forthcoming "Buying into Fair Trade: The Culture of Ethical Consumption and the Socially Conscious Consumer" (NTU Press).
CRS’ Fair Trade Fund began in 2005 and has provided more than $700,000 to projects that focus on strengthening producers outside the U.S. and expanding the fair trade marketplace nationally, with a goal of building a fair and sustainable global movement.
The other organizations receiving 2011 Fair Trade Fund grants are Cooperative Coffees in Montreal, and CRS/Pakistan.
“Through these grants CRS is working to promote stability and growth in the Fair Trade movement in all areas by improving skills, developing leaders, and sharing models of best practices,” said Jackie DeCarlo, head of CRS’ Economic Justice and CRS Fair Trade Fund teams.
“When people in the United States purchase products such as coffee, chocolate, or handcrafts from one of our Fair Trade partners, a contribution is made to the fund, which then goes on to further research and development in fair trade markets; it’s recycling fair trade dollars.”