September 23, 2010; Source: Center for American Progress | This week, the Center for American Progress release touted the work of faith-based organizations helping the poor. They note “that while compassion and charity are expanding, so are the ranks of those in need, and that it will take a sustained government response in addition to private charity to comprehensively tackle poverty.”
CAP is the Washington, D.C.-based policy think tank probably closest to the politics and agenda of the Obama Administration (CEO John Podesta has been talked about as a possible replacement for Rahm Emanuel, for example).
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Now, a number of faith-based groups have created a new coalition—Fighting Poverty with Faith to advocate for policies that it believes will help cut poverty in half over the next ten years. The kick off of a month-long “mobilization” is scheduled for October 5 with a program that will include Joshua Dubois, the Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships.
In light of CAP’s comment about resources, DuBois’s participation is interesting. Under his leadership, the Obama program includes no money for faith-based service providers –a major difference between the Obama’s program and the Bush program that preceded it. As DuBois told National Public Radio “The Faith-Based Office actually does not do grant funding . . . Instead, we tell organizations where the grants are and let them know what they need to do to apply for them.” He said, for “both secular and religious organizations that are experiencing tough financial times, we’re just sort of pointing them in the right direction.”
While CAP is certainly correct that fighting poverty, much less cutting it in half, requires government funding, the Administration has to recognize that the providers don’t function based on charity, talk of partnerships, and faith. Religious and secular nonprofits need money to function, to enable them to play the anti-poverty roles they can. Funding for nonprofit service providers ought to be on the agenda of FPWF’s upcoming month-long mobilization.—Rick Cohen