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   Justice Department Supports Grassroots Efforts
    To Help At-Risk Youth

November/December 2005
In This Issue
Protecting Children in Cyberspace: ICAC
Children's Advocacy Centers
Support for Grassroots Efforts
Youth Gangs Videoconference
Conference on Disproportionate Minority Contact
New Publications
New Videoconference Tapes and DVDs

Funding Update

Coordinating Council

Advisory Committee

OJJDP Staff News

A main priority of President Bush's Faith-Based and Community Initiative has been to remove institutional barriers that prevent faith-based and other community organizations from competing for federal grants. This priority reflects the President's belief that government can and should work in partnership with these organizations.

At the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ), a special task force (DOJ Task Force for Faith-Based and Community Initiatives) is helping to ensure equal access to federal grant opportunities for all interested and qualified service providers, including faith-based groups that offer social services. Faith-based and community organizations working together with other local groups (e.g., educators, law enforcement officers, parents) can enhance efforts to help at-risk youth make better life choices and avoid involvement with the justice system. (See "Supporting Programs, Transforming Lives," below.)

The President's Initiative does not award grants and is not a set-aside or preferential program. All funds are administered through existing federal grant program offices. The purpose of the DOJ Task Force is to highlight best practices, bring innovative programs to the attention of the nation, and provide information to help faith-based and community groups have an equal opportunity to compete for grants.

In January 2004, the DOJ Task Force promulgated a regulation entitled "Participation in Justice Department Programs by Religious Organizations; Providing for Equal Treatment of All Justice Department Program Participants." It applies to all DOJ employees, vendors, grantees (including state and local governmental agencies), and subgrantees. As applied to the administration of Juvenile Justice funds, this regulation:

  • Prohibits discrimination for or against an organization on the basis of religion, religious belief, or religious character.

  • Allows a participating religious organization to retain its independence and continue to carry out its mission, provided that Juvenile Justice funds to grantees and subgrantees do not support any inherently religious activities.

  • Clarifies that faith-based organizations can use space in their facilities to provide Juvenile Justice-funded services without removing religious art, icons, scriptures, or other religious symbols.

  • Ensures that Juvenile Justice-funded services are available to all beneficiaries, regardless of their religion.

A copy and summary of the regulation are available on the Task Force's Web site at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/fbci. The Task Force welcomes inquiries; call 202-514-2987 or e-mail FBCI@usdoj.gov. Information on the regulation is also available through the Office of Justice Programs, Office for Civil Rights; to report possible violations, call the Office for Civil Rights at 202-307-0690.

Supporting Programs, Transforming Lives

OJJDP's support for faith-based and community-based programs, such as its longtime support for the Boys & Girls Clubs of America, has produced a number of success stories. The following are just a few examples.

Lima, OH. Located in an economically disadvantaged area of Lima, the local Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club has used OJJDP grant funds to support a preschool breakfast program, establish a Small Schools Project that provides an alternate learning environment for academically challenged teens, and institute an open gym program for youth ages 14-17. These programs have had a profound effect on local youth such as 15-year-old Brandon. A participant in the Small Schools Project, Brandon had a troubled home life—his mother had died when he was 10 and his only sister was a single mother living in poverty with her 5 children—and little hope for the future. With the help of the Boys & Girls Club, he began to see the importance of dedicating himself to his education. Brandon especially enjoyed participating in the open gym program, but he also gave back by performing community service—helping to clean and maintain the Club's building, gym, and grounds. Through these and other Club activities, Brandon has become a productive member of his community.

Wilson, NC. In Wilson, the Salvation Army Boys Club used OJJDP funds to establish a teen program to serve more than 100 youth with additional Club hours on weekdays and Saturdays. The teen program initiatives included "Money Matters," a project in which teens market, renovate, and repair a local house to provide short-term housing for families in need, with rental proceeds going to support the Club; and "Teens in Action," in which teens perform community service such as lawn and yard maintenance at a local senior citizens' center. As a result of their participation in the Club's programs, teens like Kiara Spells have come into their own. With the confidence he gained at the Club, Kiara became president of the local Fellowship of Christian Athletes, made the honor roll, joined the ROTC, and was a starter on his high school basketball team.

Tulsa, OK. The Tulsa Salvation Army Boys & Girls Club used OJJDP grant funds to continue programs that seek to prevent and reduce delinquent behavior among youth while enhancing their educational development. Funds supported the Club's athletic programs, a 1-week summer camp program for disadvantaged youth, ACT/SAT preparation classes, and tutoring. One beneficiary of the Club's tutoring program was 10-year-old E.J. Before coming to the Club's tutoring lab, E.J. was failing math; with the help of his tutor and his own consistent effort and attendance, E.J. was able to receive a passing grade. More importantly, he learned the benefits and saw the rewards for his discipline and hard work.