On October 6 th , the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), through its Capital Compassion Fund (CCF), announced $58,025,562 in grants to “grass-roots faith-based” organizations around the country.1
An arm of the Administration for Children and Families (ACF), which also administers a portion of the federal dollars for abstinence-only-until-marriage program funds, CCF was launched in 2002 as a keystone of the Bush administration's faith-based initiative. Since its inception it has awarded close to $206 million to more than 4,300 organizations around the country.2
In the past, CCF has given two types of grants. Through its Demonstration Program, CCF administers funds to intermediary organizations that then provide capacity-building assistance to faith-based and community organizations. Through its Targeted Capacity Building Program, CCF gives one-time awards to social service organizations to improve their capacity to carry out their missions. This year, in addition to the $20,116,280 administered through these two programs, CCF will dispense $30 million dollars to 100 organizations around the country through its new Communities Empowering Youth (CEY) program, an initiative spearheaded by First Lady Laura Bush. The remaining $7,909,282 will go to current grantees of CCF to continue their work.3
This new set of CCF grantees includes eleven organizations from ten states that also received federal abstinence-only until marriage monies in Fiscal Year 2005 totaling more than 3.4 million dollars.4 Among these:
- Catholic Charities of Kansas City, a CCF grantee, also receives funding under the Community-Based Abstinence Education (CBAE) program. It uses the Choosing the Best LIFE curriculum for high school students and the Choosing the Best PATH curriculum for middle school students. SIECUS' review of both found them to use fear and shame based messages. For example, Choosing the Best LIFE suggests that sexually active teens will never have happy futures, and implies that only teens with low self-esteem and poor judgment become sexually active.5
- The Knoxville Leadership Council , received $300,000 from CCF and will receive more than $1 million over the next three dollars in CBAE funds. The organization is hosting The Silver Ring Thing (SRT) in November.6 SRT had its federal funding pulled after the ACLU of Massachusetts filed a lawsuit challenging HHS' use of tax-payer dollars to fund the organization which overtly promotes religion. The lawsuit cited the organization's own documents describing the use of SRT events “as the primary outreach” by which it is bringing “our world to Christ” and pointing to the fact that participants of SRT are encouraged to accept Christ as their savior and become born again.7,8
- Lutheran Family Services of Nebraska, Inc., a CCF grantee , tells visitors to the “pregnancy counseling” portion of its website that it does not support the option of abortion for “birth parents” and will not provide referrals for abortion. However, it will “provide counseling services to help clients fully explore the ramifications of this option and will provide counseling services following the termination of a pregnancy.”9
This combination of federal funds helps secure the infrastructure of organizations that are out of step with what public health experts know to be true about keeping people healthy. Meanwhile, mainstream public health organizations that seek to provide or advocate for non-biased, complete, and scientifically sound information to people in need face more and more restricted budgets.10
For more information about the Capital Compassion Fund, see http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2006pres/20061006.html
For more information about abstinence until marriage funding see www.nonewmoney.org
- United States Department of Health and Human Services, “HHS Awards $58 Million through Compassion Capital Fund,” press release published 6 October 2006, accessed 1 November 2006, <http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2006pres/20061006.html>.
- For more information see, SIECUS State Profiles.
- Home Page (2006), Knoxville Leadership Foundation, accessed 6 November 2006, <http://www.klf.org/>.
- Ceci Connolly, “Federal Funds For Abstinence Group Withheld,” Washington Post, 23 August 2005, accessed 6 November 2006, <http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/
- Making the Connection—News and Views on Sexuality: Education, Health and Rights Volume 3, Issue 2 (Washington, DC: SIECUS, Summer 2004) accessed 6 November 2006, <http://184.108.40.206/inter/connection/conn0047.html>.
- Pregnancy Counseling—Program Description and Client Eligibility (1999–2006), Family Services of Nebraska, accessed 6 November 2006, <http://www.lfsneb.org/adoptionservices/pregnancycounseling/eligibility.asp>.
- American Public Health Association, “2007 budget proposal paints dire picture for public health: New decreases follow cuts to Medicaid,” The Nation's Health , March 2006, accessed 7 November 2006, <http://www.apha.org/tnh/index.cfm?fa=ADetail&id=2625&issue_id=32006>.