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Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative
(for a PDF version of this Overview, click here)

Faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) have a long tradition of helping Americans in need and together represent an integral part of our nation’s social service network. Yet, all too often, the Federal government has put in place complicated rules and regulations preventing FBCOs from competing for funds on an equal footing with other organizations. President Bush believes that besides being inherently unfair, such an approach can waste tax-payer dollars and cut off the poor from successful programs. Federal funds should be awarded to the most effective organizations – whether public or private, large or small, faith-based or secular – and all must be allowed to compete on a level playing field.

Initiative in Action
President Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives in ten Federal agencies to lead a determined attack on need by strengthening and expanding the role of FBCOs in providing social services. The Federal government has worked to accomplish this mission through an array of regulatory and policy reforms, legislative efforts, and public outreach to FBCOs. Additionally, by making information about Federal grants more accessible and the application process less burdensome, the Initiative has empowered FBCOs to compete more effectively for funds. The ultimate beneficiaries are America’s poor, who are best served when the Federal government’s partners are the providers most capable of meeting their needs.

Work of the Initiative

  • Identifying and eliminating barriers that impede the full participation of FBCOs in the Federal grants process
  • Ensuring that Federally-funded social services administered by State and local governments are consistent with equal treatment provisions
  • Encouraging greater corporate and philanthropic support for FBCOs’ social service programs through public education and outreach activities
  • Pursuing legislative efforts to extend charitable choice provisions that prevent discrimination against faith-based organizations, protect the religious freedom of beneficiaries, and preserve religious hiring rights of faith-based charities

Increasing Accessibility Federal Funds

The underlying premise of the President’s Initiative is that a more open and competitive Federal grant-making process will increase the delivery of effective social services to those whose needs are greatest. Thus, Federal agencies have successfully undertaken a variety of measures designed to promote competition in their grant-making processes. These measures include:

  • Making information more accessible
  • Providing training and technical assistance
  • Broadening program eligibility
  • Changing regulations
  • Streamlining grant applications
  • Focusing on the unique needs of grassroots organizations
  • Eliminating preferential treatment for existing and former grantees

White House Conference On Faith-Based and Community Initiatives

The White House is hosting Conferences on Faith-Based and Community Initiatives to continue supporting the work of effective social service programs. The conferences will provide participants information about the government grants process, available funding opportunities, and the legal responsibilities that come with the receipt of Federal funds. The conferences will also provide an opportunity to inform State and local officials about equal treatment regulations and other central elements of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative.

The conferences are supported by the Departments of Justice, Agriculture, Labor, Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Education, Commerce, and Veterans Affairs, the Small Business Administration, and the US Agency for International Development.

Resources for Grassroots Groups Seeking to Compete for Federal Funds

The White House Office and the Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the ten Federal agencies can help answer questions about the government funding process.

Internet Resources
The White House Office website ( provides background information, a listing of recent and upcoming outreach activities, and a summary of the latest regulatory changes related to the Initiative. The website also includes contact information and website links for the ten Agency Centers, several guidebooks for nonprofit organizations, and other helpful resources.

Written Documents
The White House Office has published several written resources to assist grassroots groups in navigating the Federal grants system. These documents include a catalog of Federal grant opportunities, a guide to the legal responsibilities associated with the receipt of Federal funds, and a booklet which outlines the protection of religious hiring rights. These documents are available at

Compassion Capital Fund
Assistance may also be available through the Department of Health and Human Services' Compassion Capital Fund. Intermediary organizations have received grants to provide training, technical assistance, and sub-awards to a diverse range of faith-based and community organizations seeking to increase their ability to provide social services to those in need. Technical assistance activities are offered free of charge and focus on strategic planning; financial management; board development; fundraising; and outcome measurement. You can learn more about the Compassion Capital Fund at