Bush Tells National Service Agencies to Work with Faith Groups

Through an executive order, President Bush told AmeriCorps and other national-service programs to work more closely with faith-based groups and to increase their fundraising efforts to attract more money from private sources, the Chronicle of Philanthropy reported March 18.

In the order to the Corporation for National and Community Service, which oversees AmeriCorps, Bush told the agency to “increase efforts to expand opportunities for, and strengthen the capacity of, faith-based and other community organizations in building and strengthening an infrastructure to support volunteers that meet community needs.”

Alan Khazei, founder of City Year, which operates service programs in 14 cities with AmeriCorp’s support, is concerned about the vagueness of the order and how the corporation will decide to enforce it. “As long as the voice of local programs is heard, we can come out of this with a strong AmeriCorps,” he said. “We have to see how the process works.”

Khazei is more concerned about Bush urging national-service organizations that receive federal funds to raise more money from state and local governments and private donors. Khazei said if the order results in term limits for federal funds or more reliability on nonfederal money, grantees in poor and rural areas would suffer because philanthropic resources there are scarce.