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Faith-based & Community Initiatives

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For State Administrators

New for State and Local Officials

The Center for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Health and Human Services has put out a new guidebook entitled "Partnering with Faith-Based and Community Organizations: A Guide for State and Local Officials Administering Federal Block and Formula Grant Funds." The guidebook is written specifically for state and local officials as a way to provide practical information on developing and enhancing partnerships with effective faith-based and community organizations.

While the guidebook discusses the ability of faith-based organizations to consider religion when hiring staff for a Federally-funded program, for a fuller discussion of the issue, please visit http://www.usdoj.govdo-dont.html.

Implementing the Equal Treatment Regulation
In 2004, the U.S. Department of Justice promulgated 28 C.F.R. 38, which requires equal treatment for faith-based organizations in Department grant programs. 28 C.F.R. 38.2 specifically addresses equal treatment in formula and block grant programs, and prohibits State Administering Agencies from discriminating either in favor of or against faith-based applicants for federal assistance. The regulations also prohibit subrecipients of federal assistance from using that assistance for inherently religious activities, including worship, religious instruction, or proselytization. Compliance with the regulation is part of the standard assurances included in all Department formula grant applications.

State Administering Agencies should make sure that any assurances that subrecipients sign as a condition of receiving funding also include an express reference to this regulation.  Other important steps in implementing the regulation include:

  • Using the regulations as a guide in onsite monitoring visits to ensure that faith-based subrecipients are in compliance with federal law.
  • Incorporating the requirements set forth in the regulation into the training your organization provides to its employees who make funding decisions and those who are responsible for grant administration and compliance monitoring.
  • Incorporating the requirements of these regulations into any training your agency provides to subrecipients on compliance with civil rights and other grant conditions.

Tutorial for State Administrators

Want to learn more about the rules that apply in your relations with faith-based organizations--and do so in an interactive and fast way? Then why not take our State Administrator's Tutorial "More Than Rules: How Equal Treatment of Faith-Based NGOs Can Expand Services to America's Needy"?

In fifteen minutes or less you will learn about the department's Equal Treatment Regulations, the differences between direct and indirect funding (and the different rules that apply to each), and how to more effectively create a level playing field in your dealings with faith-based organizations. The tutorial is done in a question-and-answer format and gives explanations of all topics covered. So what are you waiting for? Start the tutorial, and let the learning begin!

More Training and Technical Assistance

The Task Force and the Office of Justice Program’s Office of Civil Rights (OCR) provide training and technical assistance on the regulation at conferences of State Administrators and conferences of potential applicants. Video of one such White House conference presentation is available with closed captioning.

OCR is responsible for enforcing the regulation for all Department formula programs (including OVW’s STOP Violence Against Women formula program). OCR provides training and technical assistance on implementing the regulation in your State Administering Agency.

Office of Justice Programs
Office for Civil Rights
810 7th Street, N.W.
Washington, DC 20531
Phone: (202)307-0690
Fax: (202)616-9865
TDD/TTY: (202) 307-2027

Faith-Based Grantee's Right to Consider Religion in Hiring Staff

If an organization applying for a subgrant is a faith-based organization that makes hiring decisions on the basis of an applicant's religious belief, it may be entitled, under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, 42 U.S.C. § 2000bb, to receive federal funds and yet maintain that hiring practice, even if the law creating the funding program contains a general ban on religious discrimination in employment. For the circumstances under which this may occur, and the certifications that may be required by the Department of Justice, please see the “Effect of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act on Faith-Based Applicants for Grants.” See also Question No. 10, under “FAQ's” on the Task Force's Home Page.

Clarification Regarding Nonprofit Status
In 2005, the Associate Attorney General for the Office of Justice Programs issued a memo clarifying the Department’s policies regarding proof of nonprofit status for subrecipients of formula funds. With one exception, Department formula grants open to participation by nonprofits do not require applicants to have been granted federal tax-exempt status under 26 U.S.C. 501(c)(3). Nonprofit organizations may also prove their eligibility with:

  • A statement from State taxing body or State Secretary of State certifying (a) organization is nonprofit operating within the State; and (b) no part of the organizationís net earnings may lawfully benefit any private shareholder or individual;
  • A certified copy of certificate of incorporation or similar document establishing nonprofit status
  • Either of the above or 501(c)(3) status, if it applies to a State or national parent organization, with a statement by the State or parent organization that the applicant is a local nonprofit affiliate.

The Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention (JJDP) Act, Pub. L. No. 93-415, Title I, is the only formula grant statute administered by the Department which specifically requires 501(c)(3) status for nonprofit applicants.

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