TANF Faith-Based and Community Organizations Initiative

The TANF Faith-Based and Community Organizations Initiative is a multi-year project designed to identify partnerships and strengthen "promising practices" between TANF offices and faith-based and neighborhood organizations working in their communities. The initiative focuses on improving services to low-income clients by connecting TANF services at both the state and local levels with high-performing faith-based and community organizations (FBCOs) already serving similar populations. The ultimate goal is to help the respective entities serve families more holistically so that they can achieve economic stability.


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TANF Faith-Based and Community Organization Initiative: An Overview, 2011

The TANF Faith-Based and Community Organizations Initiative is a 3-year project that examines promising partnerships between TANF offices and FBCOs working in their communities. The goal of the initiative is to help low-income participants attain economic self-sufficiency by linking together the unique strengths of faith-based organizations, community-based groups, and intermediary organizations with TANF programs at the state and local levels. The project describes some leading practices in partnering organizations nationwide, and makes available a set of on-the-ground tools for interested TANF program leaders and FBCO communities.

There are four primary components of the Initiative:

The initiative’s first phase (2007-08) collected information from 139 grassroots faith-based and community organizations nationwide, resulting in a Compendium of Organizations, which documents core components of 139 local social service organizations. After a careful vetting process, 23 of these organizations with highly promising elements—whether because of their relationship with local TANF agencies, unique approaches to serving clients, existing public support, or evidence of effectiveness—were selected for further study.

The project’s second phase (2008-09) consisted of a refined analysis of the top 23 FBCOs, described in the Snapshots of Success report. The research team followed up systematically with Executive Directors in each of the 23 sites, and using information gleaned from informal phone-based outreach, identified 8 sites that would participate in on-site interviews and analysis.

During the third phase (2009-10), the team conducted two-day site visits with each of the 8 leading FBCO partners, and developed initial case studies about FBCO programs partnering with their local TANF office.

Finally, the initiative’s fourth phase (2010-11) compiled these case studies and other relevant “tools” gathered in the field into an online webpage, for use by a larger number of FBCO or TANF program leaders interested in supporting local public-private partnerships in their communities.

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Compendium of FBCOs

FBCO Partnerships with TANF Agencies: A Compendium, September 2009

As part of Phase 1 of the project (2007-2008), the TANF FBCO team collected information on 139 promising partnerships between Federal, State, or local governments and FBCOs that provide employment and self-sufficiency services to TANF participants and other low-income populations. This Compendium documents the core competencies and organizational components of each local organization. Site profiles identify each organization’s demographics, characteristics of the population served, services and outcomes, and information on their partnership. From this information search, 23 programs were selected for further study.

Download the Compendium [PDF - 92,186 KB]

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Snapshots of Success

Snapshots of Promising Practices, October 2009

As part of Phase 2 of the Initiative (2008-2009), this report is based on the analysis of the 139 promising programs (see the Compendium) and offers a window into a subset of the nation’s leading faith- and community-based intermediary organizations that are working everyday with TANF participants and other low-income populations. The selected programs range from those deeply motivated by faith commitments to those which are entirely secular in nature; from highly professionalized to volunteer-driven efforts; from groups serving TANF families to those who support ex-offenders re-integrate into society; and from organizations serving highly urbanized to rural settings representing all 10 ACF regions. The project team conducted structured phone-based discussions with Executive Directors of the 23 FBCOs, summarizing key findings in this report. (Two programs elected not to participate in the study.) Under the leadership of senior policymakers at OFA, eight of these programs were selected for further study.

Download the Snapshots [PDF - 1,934 KB]

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Foundational Learning

Analytical Report, 2011

This cross-site analysis examines all 8 of the exemplary FBCO-TANF partnerships described in the project’s case studies, by drawing out important findings related to volunteer management, organizational infrastructure, inter-agency communication, and place-based strategies. Moreover, the 14-page report articulates some of the leading reasons a TANF agency would want to partner with an FBCO, and it describes how effective partnerships can emerge.

Download the Report [PDF - 1,295 KB]

Introduction: Foundational Learning Papers, 2010

One premise of the TANF FBCO Initiative is that changes created by welfare reform in 1996, as well as subsequent federal policy developments, have enabled new forms of public involvement by faith-based and community organizations working at the local level. Several “white papers” below describe these changes in more detail, discussing advances by intermediary-led networks, new forms of public funding for FBCOs, and other innovations that have helped shape today’s landscape for increased collaboration between grassroots organizations, TANF agencies and other federal programs. These foundational papers were developed during the project’s first phase.

Partnerships That Work: Preliminary Findings from the TANF Faith-Based and Community Organizations Initiative, June 2007

This publication was developed for the June 2007 White House Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives conference and provides preliminary findings from the first portion of the project's initial assessment of FBCOs in the field. Authors document lessons from five local programs that have relationships with local TANF programs or One-Stop Career Centers, and also reference initial practices that can help facilitate strategic public-private collaboration in different settings.

Download White Paper [PDF - 184 KB]

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