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Fact Sheet: The Faith-Based and Community Initiative: A Quiet Revolution in the Way Government Addresses Human Need

January 29, 2008

President Bush Celebrates Seventh Anniversary Of Landmark Initiative To Help Local Organizations Better Serve Their Communities

Today, President Bush celebrated the seventh anniversary of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative (FBCI) by touring the Jericho prisoner reentry program in Baltimore. Jericho is a grantee of the Prisoner Re-entry Initiative (PRI), which the President proposed in 2004 as a signature program of the Faith-Based and Community Initiative. The program is run by Episcopal Community Services of Maryland and serves non-violent adult male offenders who have been released from prison within the last six months. The program emphasizes employment readiness training and job placement while providing recovery counseling, case management, and a network of partner service providers to meet the needs of recently released ex-offenders as they transition back to society.

Seven Years Of The Faith-Based And Community Initiative: A "Determined Attack On Need"

President Bush launched the Faith-Based and Community Initiative on January 29, 2001 by signing an Executive Order creating the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives. This Order charged the office with leading a "comprehensive effort to enlist, equip, enable, empower, and expand the work of faith-based and other community organizations." The President has since established Centers for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at 11 Federal agencies, where they are successfully strengthening partnerships with these grassroots organizations and implementing the FBCI vision within their agency's human service programs.

The Faith-Based and Community Initiative is empowering faith-based organizations and other grassroots service providers to address the needs of their communities. Over the past seven years, the White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives and the Agency Centers it oversees have worked to strengthen both faith-based and community organizations and to extend their work in partnership with government.

Faith-Based And Community Nonprofits Are Renewing Communities, Restoring Hope, And Changing Lives

The Initiative is changing the way government addresses human need by making grant 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: Returning non-violent offenders are linked with FBCOs that help them find work and avoid relapse into criminal activity. Released inmates who participate in this Initiative 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.
  • Reducing Homelessness: From 2003 to 2006, the number of direct nonprofit grantees of the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Department's Continuum of Care program to reduce homelessness grew by more than 30 percent, from 1,609 to 2,096. The latest data show that from 2005 to 2006, the number of chronically homeless individuals across America dropped by 12 percent, meaning more than 20,000 individuals moved from the streets or shelters to a new residence.

FBCI Has Led A Quiet Revolution In The Way Government Addresses Human Need

The FBCI works to place locally-rooted solutions at the center of Federal efforts to help those in need. The Initiative has:

  • Removed barriers and launched innovative programs to enable the government to partner with small, community-based nonprofits as never before.
  • Established a level playing field for faith-based organizations, and set clear, Constitutional guidelines for their use of public funds.
  • Delivered in-person training to more than 100,000 social entrepreneurs, by teaching them how to better track their outcomes, write grants, and develop other key skills that help their organizations maximize impact for the people they serve.

Federal competitive awards are expanding the good work of both faith-based and community organizations across America and beyond.

  • In 2006 alone, the Federal government provided more than 18,000 direct, competitive awards to America's nonprofit organizations to aid the homeless, at-risk youth, recovering addicts, returning offenders, AIDS victims, and others.
  • These grants totaled more than $14.7 billion to boost services to people in need. Faith-based organizations were welcomed as a central part of this work, winning more than 3,000 grants in 2006 totaling nearly $2.2 billion.

The PRI Is A Signature Program Of The Faith Based And Community Initiative

In his 2004 State of the Union address, President Bush proposed the PRI to help released inmates find work and make a fresh start in life after prison. The PRI is a collaborative effort between the Departments of Labor (DOL) and Justice (DOJ) to help reduce recidivism among ex-offenders in urban centers and other areas with the greatest need by connecting them with faith- and community-based organizations in the cities to which they return.

  • Labor Department funds are awarded to faith-based and community organizations entrenched in the communities they serve. Grants are awarded to local service organizations that provide a variety of assistance to returning prisoners, including workforce development services, job training, pre-employment training, work experience, basic skills remediation, counseling and case management, mentoring, and other reentry services. For example, Episcopal Community Services of Maryland, which operates the Jericho program, has received over $1.3 million in federal dollars under DOL's Prisoner Reentry Initiative.
  • Justice Department grants are awarded to State agencies to help them join their anti-recidivism efforts with the personal touch of faith-based and community-based organizations. The DOJ grants to State agencies help these entities provide prerelease services to offenders transitioning back to the communities where DOL grantees are located. For example, Maryland's Department of Public Safety and Corrections Services received a $450,000 grant to help join the State's anti-recidivism efforts with the efforts of organizations like Episcopal Community Services of Maryland.
  • In 2008, Congress accepted the President's proposal to merge PRI with the Responsible Reintegration of Youthful Offenders program. This created a single program (Reintegration of Ex-Offenders) to bring together the strengths of both programs and assist youth and adult ex-offenders.

Faith-Based And Community Groups Support Our Compassion Agenda Around The World

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) partners with faith-based groups to deliver humanitarian assistance to people in need and to develop healthy societies. The President's Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) represents massive-scale implementation of the Initiative's vision. In 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. By focusing on principles that have changed behavior, this program is succeeding.

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.

Even in states without a formal office for this work, the FBCI is active. For example, California does not currently have an official Initiative, but in 2006, its nonprofits won more than 1,550 competitive Federal grants totaling nearly $1.1 billion dollars to serve their neighbors in need.

George W. Bush, Fact Sheet: The Faith-Based and Community Initiative: A Quiet Revolution in the Way Government Addresses Human Need Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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