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State of the Union 2008

Helping Those In Need Through The Faith-Based And Community Initiative
President Bush Calls On Congress To Permanently Extend Charitable Choice, Allowing Faith-Based Organizations To Continue Receiving Equal Treatment When Competing For Federal Support

Tonight, President Bush will call on Congress to help guarantee continued equal treatment for faith-based organizations seeking Federal funding by permanently extending Charitable Choice.  Passed with bipartisan support, Charitable Choice legislative provisions govern the participation of faith-based organizations in select Federal programs, including Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, Welfare to Work, the Community Services Block Grant, and programs at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  The provisions prohibit discrimination either for or against faith-based service organizations competing for these Federal dollars, and ensure faith-based organizations do not have to sacrifice their mission or character in order to participate.  Charitable Choice also protects the religious liberty of people who are served by faith-based providers receiving these funds.

The Faith-Based And Community Initiative Is Ensuring A Level Playing Field For All Organizations Seeking To Partner With The Federal Government

The Faith-Based and Community Initiative is empowering faith-based organizations and other grassroots service providers in addressing the needs of their communities.  President Bush launched the Faith-Based and Community Initiative on January 29, 2001, when he signed an Executive Order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives.  He has since established Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at 11 Federal agencies, where they are successfully eliminating barriers to Federal partnerships with these grassroots organizations. 

The Initiative is changing the way government addresses human need by making grants programs and other opportunities more accessible to new faith-based and community partners.  For example, through initiatives such as the voucher-based Access to Recovery program, the Administration is working to expand individual choice so that Americans in need of substance abuse treatment and recovery support services can receive help from the program that best suits them.  In addition, the Compassion Capital Fund, another signature program of the Initiative, is helping small, grassroots organizations that have never received Federal funding build the capacity they need to compete for Federal grants and serve their communities.

  • The Initiative is producing real results for people in need.  For example:

    • Prisoner Reentry Initiative: Released inmates who participate in the Prisoner Reentry Initiative, which links adult nonviolent offenders who are reentering society with FBCOs based in the cities to which they return, are returning to prison at less than half the national rate. 
    • Mentoring Children of Prisoners: More than 70,000 children whose parents are behind bars have been matched with caring mentors under the Mentoring Children of Prisoners program, which is on-track to reach its goal of 100,000 matches this year. 
    • President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief: The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) represents massive-scale implementation of the Initiative's vision.  In the PEPFAR's 15 focus countries, more than 80 percent of PEPFAR partners are indigenous organizations, and more than 20 percent of all partners are faith-based. 

  • Under the Faith-Based and Community Initiative, Federal agencies have built on the success of Charitable Choice by issuing Equal Treatment regulations to level the playing field for faith-based organizations across a much broader array of programs.  An audit conducted after the Faith-Based and Community Initiative was launched in 2001 confirmed the Federal government was often suspicious of faith-based organizations and excluded these groups altogether from certain programs or burdened them with excessive, unnecessary regulations.  The Equal Treatment regulations clarify faith-based organizations' eligibility to participate in Federal social service programs on the same basis as any other private organization, and provide clear and detailed guidance regarding faith-based organizations' rights and responsibilities regarding religious character, independence, and religious activities.

The Faith-Based And Community Initiative Is Strengthening FBCOs Across The Nation

In FY 2006 alone, more than 15,000 competitive Federal grants were won by both faith-based and secular nonprofits to grow their services to the needy.  Grants won by faith-based groups totaled more than $2.16 billion.

More than 100,000 nonprofit leaders and social entrepreneurs have received training and technical assistance through the Initiative.  This training has ranged from grant-writing courses, to training in the use of technology for tracking client outcomes, to intensive on-site consulting.

Since 2002, the Compassion Capital Fund alone has provided small grants to more than 5,000 faith-based and community nonprofits to help strengthen their organizations and extend their services.

The Faith-Based And Community Initiative Is Taking Root At The State And Local Level

Thirty-five governors – 19 Democrats and 16 Republicans – and more than 100 mayors have offices or liaisons dedicated to strengthening faith-based and community organizations and extending their vital works.  Twelve of these States have changed governors, some across party lines, but not one has ended their efforts.