What does the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships do?
The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships forms partnerships between government and non-profit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need. The Office does so in ways that are consistent with the guarantees of the U.S. Constitution and other laws.
What is the mission of the Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the various Federal agencies? How do I contact them?
Each Center specializes in connecting civil society leaders and organizations with opportunities for common-good partnerships in the particular fields that are under the aegis of its specific Federal agency. For example, through the Summer Food Service Program, the Center at the Department of Agriculture provides opportunities for community organizations to offer nutritious meals to children during the summer. For contact information at the Centers in the Federal agencies, click here.
How do the White House Office and the Centers accomplish these goals?
Through meetings, forums, and other events and communications, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships informs civil society leaders and organizations – both religious and nonreligious -- about opportunities to partner with the Federal government to advance the common good. They also listen to the ideas and concerns of these leaders and help to convey them to Federal government officials and staff. The Office and Centers do this by working with the Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and in other ways.
Does this office only promote financial partnerships with the Federal government?
No. The White House believes nonfinancial partnerships between the government and nonprofits are as important as financial partnerships. Examples of nonfinancial partnerships include community efforts to recruit and train volunteers to serve in our nation’s public schools and the formation of jobs clubs by neighborhood organizations -- clubs that provide job seekers with opportunities to network, get social media training, and to meet potential employers.
Does the White House office or the agency centers distribute Federal funds? Do they decide which organizations receive Federal social service grants?
No. While these offices notify faith-based and neighborhood groups about a variety of opportunities to partner with government, they play no role in decision-making about which organizations receive Federal grants.
Does the Federal government set aside any money for faith-based organizations?
No. The Federal government does not set aside grants for religious organizations. Instead, organizations – both faith-based and secular – are invited to apply for government grants, and those are distributed to the most effective organizations, regardless of their religious affiliation or lack thereof.
Does the White House office or the agency centers treat religious individuals and institutions preferentially over non-religious institutions and individuals?
No. These offices treat religious and nonreligious institutions and individuals the same. They do not discriminate on the basis of religious affiliation or lack thereof.
How can I learn more about opportunities to apply for Federal grants?
All Federal grants must be announced to the public. The most comprehensive source is www.grants.gov, a one-stop “storefront” for most grants available from the United States government. You can search Grants.gov by keyword (e.g., “prison”), agency (e.g., “U.S. Department of Commerce”), or by category (e.g., “Economic Development”). You will see a chronological listing of open grants which you can then click on individually to access and read the solicitations.
What are some legal obligations that come along with a government grant?
Some of the legal obligations that come along with a Federal government grant include the responsibility to separate any explicitly religious activities from programs funded by direct government grants. Explicitly religious activities (activities that involve overt religious content, such as religious instruction, devotional exercises, worship, proselytizing or evangelism) must be clearly separated in either time or location from the federally funded program. These religious activities also must be privately funded and purely voluntary for program beneficiaries. Organizations receiving Federal funds may not discriminate against beneficiaries or prospective beneficiaries on the basis of religion or religious belief. Further, if a beneficiary or prospective beneficiary objects to the religious character of an organization providing federally funded services, the beneficiary must be referred to an alternative provider. For more information about these issues, click here.
What are some ways in which an organization’s religious identity is protected while it receives and administers Federal grants?
A religious organization may use religious terms in its organizational name, select board members on a religious basis, and include religious references in mission statements and other organizational documents. Also, a religious organization may not be required to remove religious icons, scriptures or other symbols from its facilities simply because it receives and administers Federal grants. For more information about these issues, click here.