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For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
November 20, 2001

President Urges Support for America's Charities

Today's Action
-    During a visit to a local charity, President Bush called on Americans to support charities of all kinds, especially during the holiday season.  The Corporation for National and Community Service website ( has been updated to provide information for all Americans who are interested in supporting a charity -- either with financial support or by volunteering.

-    The President also announced more than $1 billion in new grants to help the homeless through the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

-    The President encouraged Congress to pass legislation enacting his Armies of Compassion initiative to significantly expand incentives for charitable giving, provide equal treatment for non-governmental organizations and support those Americans most in need.

Background on the President's Visit
-    The President visited So Others Might Eat, a Washington, DC interfaith charity that provides food, medical, rehabilitative and other assistance to the homeless.  The President met with the group's volunteers, who help to serve more than 300,000 meals per year to the homeless.

-    To support efforts by community organizations to aid the homeless, the President announced more than $1 billion in grants through the Department of Housing and Urban Development. The grants, part of HUD's Continuum of Care and Emergency Shelter Grant programs, will help the homeless to find emergency shelter, transitional housing and a permanent home. These funds will go to state and local governments and non-profit organizations in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and Guam.

-    The President's Armies of Compassion initiative is designed to improve the federal government's efforts to support and encourage the good work of community-based non-profits.  Many of America's charities have been hit hard in the aftermath of September 11 due to the effects of a weakened economy.  A recent survey by the Independent Sector found that 48% of Americans will reduce their charitable giving in the next six months if the economic slowdown worsens.  The survey also found that 26% of Americans will stop giving or reduce the size of their donations to the charities they normally support due to their recent donation to September 11-related charitable causes.

-    For many of the nonprofits providing vital, ongoing services to our communities, a 25% reduction in contributions during the most significant fund-raising period of the year would force the reduction or even elimination of services to some of our neediest individuals and families.

-    President Bush wants to expand the resources available to charities of all kinds by making it easier for individuals, businesses and other organizations to donate money and resources to charitable organizations nationwide.  The House of Representatives has already passed bipartisan legislation to support these efforts - and leading Senators are preparing to introduce an Armies of Compassion bill.  

The Armies of Compassion initiative includes:
(1)  Programs aimed at increasing charitable giving through tax incentives.

-    Allow individuals to make tax-free distributions from their IRAs to charities;
-    Provide enhanced deductions for farmers and restaurants to donate food to food banks; and
-    Allow an estimated 84 million taxpayers who do not itemize to deduct their charitable contributions;

(2) Equal treatment for all non-governmental organizations ? sacred or secular.

-    Require non-discrimination against non-governmental organizations based on religious grounds, including religious iconography, governance, and experience with government contracts;
-    Create 501(c)3 "EZ Pass" process so community-based groups can get tax-deductible status more easily; and
-    Establish a Compassion Capital Fund to educate and empower community-based organizations.

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