State gets $67 million in faith-based money

Published: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 4, 2005 at 1:08 a.m.
JACKSONVILLE - An innovative program that helps refugees with their finances is among 90 Florida programs that shared $67 million under President Bush's faith-based and community initiatives, an analysis by The Associated Press concluded.
Homeless organizations, abstinence programs for teens, Head Start for youngsters and housing for the elderly are among the programs receiving the lion's share of the money in Florida. The grants are part of the $1 billion the government gave to social service organizations nationwide it considered to be faith-based.
Bush, who had strong support from religious conservatives, pledged to provide federal funds to religious groups to perform social services, saying they often are able to do a better job than governmental agencies.
One of the organizations receiving faith-based money was Lutheran Social Services of Northeast Florida, which got $1 million in 2003 to set up individual development accounts for refugees. Over five years, the program has received $3.65 million in grants from the Office of Refugee Resettlement.
Karen Rieley said the Jacksonville group, formed about 25 years ago, is designed to help people and not proselytize.
"We provide services as Christians, not for the purposes of conversion," she said.
Head Start programs designed to increase school readiness of young children in low-income families accounted for more than about 40 percent of all the faith-based money coming into Florida in 2003.

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