For Immediate Release
Office of the Press Secretary
January 15, 2004
Fact Sheet: Progress in Helping Americans Most in Need Through Faith-Based and Community Initiatives
President Bush today visited Union Bethel A.M.E. Church in New Orleans, where he met with Americans whose lives have been changed because of the efforts of faith- and community-based organizations, as well as the dedicated Americans who run the programs that help those in need.
President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative helps charitable organizations compete on a level playing field for Federal social service funds. These programs help millions of Americans in need each year to conquer addiction, provide for themselves and their children, and address other basic needs.
The Administration today announced additional regulations that will help break down barriers to faith- and community-based charities and will continue to look for opportunities to partner with effective social service organizations that are helping the most vulnerable Americans.
Compassion in Action
America has a long tradition of helping individuals, families, and communities who have not fully shared in the Nation's prosperity. But despite efforts by the Federal and state governments to battle social distress, too many of our neighbors still suffer from poverty and despair.
For years, faith-based and community groups have been assisting these people and others in need. They have transformed lives with their compassion -- helping to address many of our country's most challenging social problems one step and one act of kindness at a time. Unfortunately, the Federal government has often not been a willing partner to these faith-based and community groups even when the groups have proven track records of success. Instead, it has put in place complicated rules and regulations that hinder these groups from competing for Federal funds on an equal footing with other, larger charities.
President Bush believes that to best serve Americans in need, charitable groups of all kinds should compete on a level playing field for Federal social service funds as long as they obey all legal requirements. Enabling these groups to compete on a level playing field for the opportunity to help more Americans in need is the purpose of the President's Faith-Based and Community Initiative. As a result of the President's leadership, significant progress is being made and the results are being seen in communities across America.
For example, before President Bush launched his Faith-Based and Community Initiative, the Orange County Rescue Mission in California applied for a grant under Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD) Supportive Housing Program. When they were actually awarded the grant, they were told they would need to ban all religious activities from their facilities, create a secular nonprofit organization, and begin calling their chapel an "auditorium." Rather than compromising their religious identify, Orange County Rescue Mission forfeited the $1.1 million grant -- money that would have been used to help feed and provide shelter to the homeless.
Since new HUD regulations opening doors for faith-based organizations were finalized in September, the Rescue Mission will not be required to form a secular entity to receive HUD funds, and inherently religious activities will still be allowed as long as they are separated in time or location from HUD-funded activities. Because of these changes, the Rescue Mission recently applied for a new HUD grant. Many other faith-based and community organizations around America also have seen the positive effect of open competition for grants.
Milestones for the President's Initiative
January 2001: President Bush created the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) and tasked it with the responsibility of identifying barriers that separate Americans in need from effective social service programs.
August 2001: OFBCI issued a report, "Unlevel Playing Field," documenting regulatory and administrative barriers that effectively discriminated against faith-based and community groups in the Federal grants process.
December 2002: In response to these findings, the President issued an Executive Order (EO) directing agencies to take steps to ensure that all policies (including guidance, regulations, and internal agency procedures) are consistent with the "equal treatment" principles. As an example of how these changes help non-profits, a change in the policy at the Federal Emergency Management Agency allowed the Seattle Hebrew Academy in Seattle, Washington, to receive disaster relief grant to repair the damage from a 2001 earthquake.
January 2003: In the 2003 State of the Union address, President Bush called on all Americans to share their compassion by becoming mentors to those at risk of losing hope. The President proposed an initiative to recruit and train mentors for more than one million disadvantaged youth and children with one or more parents in prison. President Bush also proposed a $600 million increase in Federal treatment funding to help addicted Americans find needed treatment from the most effective programs, including faith-based institutions.
May 2003: In addition, important policy changes by the Administration permitted first-ever grants to religious organizations. For example, both Touro Synagogue in Newport, Rhode Island, and Old North Church in Boston, Massachusetts, received "Save America's Treasures" grants as a result of a policy change at the Department of Interior that permitted historic places of worship to apply.
September 2003: Final regulations were issued for HUD, which involved over $8 billion in housing programs, and at HHS, which covered nearly $20 billion in social service programs, a portion of which are competitive grants. In addition to these regulations now in place, regulations proposed by the Departments of Labor, Education, and Veterans Affairs, are expected to be finalized within two months. President Bush also has taken steps to protect the religious liberty and hiring rights of faith-based Federal contractors.
January 15, 2004: At the President's direction, the Department of Justice took action to finalize regulations that implement President Bush's policy of ending discrimination against faith-based charities in the Federal grants process. Today's action by DOJ applies to $3.7 billion in Federal program funds, primarily those programs operated by the Office of Justice Programs, including those to support victims of crime, the prevention of child victimization, and safe schools.
Congressional, State, and Local Action
The Omnibus Spending bill awaiting final action by Congress when it returns next week includes funding for key compassion initiatives of the President, including $100 million for the Access to Recovery drug treatment program announced in last year's State of the Union, $50 million for the mentoring of the children of prisoners, and $48 million for the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF). CCF announced over $30 million in grants to 81 organizations in September 2003, and last year $9 million went to organizations that mentor the children of prisoners. Legislation to provide billions of dollars in tax incentives for more charitable giving passed both the House and Senate in 2003.
President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative is also advancing at the state and local levels. By the end of this month, a bipartisan group of 20 governors will have faith-based offices or liaisons. The United States Conference of Mayors has opened a faith-based office, as have 180 mayors, including the mayors of Philadelphia, Miami, San Diego, and Denver.