History

Since 1973, Catholic Urban Programs (CUP) has ministered to the poorest citizens of East St. Louis, St. Clair County, and Southwestern Illinois.  Originally a department of the Diocese of Belleville, in 2009 the CUP Human Services Office united with four other former departments to create one independent, faith-based organization with the mission “to advance the dignity of the human person through compassionate responses to human needs, advocacy for justice, and the empowerment of individuals and families to reach their full potential.”  All CUP programs and services are provided free of charge to clients, regardless of income level or faith affiliation.

CUP programs take a two-tiered approach to combating poverty: direct service to individuals and families in need, and collaboration within our agency and with a broad network of public and private partners to support clients in making the life changes required to lift them out of poverty.

Our Human Services Office, grounded in the Corporal Works of Mercy, provides emergency assistance for rent, mortgage, and utility payments, home and car repairs, medical care and prescriptions, furniture, appliances, clothing, uniforms and infant supplies, transportation vouchers, school tuition and books, and burial of loved ones.  

Griffin Center, CUP’s youth education/development arm, has touched the lives of more than 12,000 children ages 5 to 14 since its establishment in 1986.  Each year, 500 children from East St. Louis’ five public housing complexes take part in after-school and summer day camp programs that combine educational enrichment with intensive social/emotional development support, with the goal to break the multi-generational cycle of welfare dependence.

Holy Angels Shelter, founded in 1989, serves predominantly female-headed households through a comprehensive approach to combating homelessness, combining prevention support, emergency residence, and extensive post-residential case management to ensure stability in permanent housing. 

Since 1996, our Neighborhood Law Office (NLO) has made free civil representation available to low-income, disabled and senior citizens who cannot be served by the region’s legal aid society.  Traditional emphases have focused on employment, housing, consumer and environmental law; a new focus area is the sealing/expungement of minor criminal records, which thwart access to jobs and housing.

Hubbard House, named after Joseph Hubbard (founder of Catholic Urban Programs) started in 2005 for groups of volunteers to come and stay in the East St. Louis community.  Volunteers work with CUP programs and other organizations in the community.  Being able to stay in the community they are serving, the volunteers get to see poverty firsthand.

Since our merger, CUP's programs work together toward the vision of “a Southern Illinois where hope prevails, justice reigns, and people are transformed."