Classic Case - United Way Mass Bay and the Faith & Action Initiative (B): Going for the Gold?

United Way Mass Bay and the Faith & Action Initiative (B): Going for the Gold?


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  • Product Description

    In July 2002, the United Way of Massachusetts Bay (UWMB) faced a dilemma it could not have imagined five years earlier: whether to lead a coalition of faith-based organizations applying for a grant from the Compassion Capital Fund (CCF), established under the George W. Bush Administration. UWMB was considered a lead agency because of its Faith and Action (FAA) Initiative, which funded faith-based youth programs in Boston's inner city neighborhoods. UWMB was proud of FAA, which since 1997 had given small grants to church-based youth programs which emphasized spiritual transformation. The money had financed summer camps, work with gang members, after-school and after-care programs for juvenile offenders. FAA had also trained grant recipients in evaluation techniques, helping them understand how to define and measure success. The one frustration: there was not enough money to support the scope of programs that FAA committee members wanted. The CCF offered grants of up to $2 million, for three years, specifically to faith-based and community organizations. The difficulty was that the money could not be used for faith-based activities, the heart and soul of FAA. Instead funds had to be used for building the capacity (managerial and evaluative) of faith-based organizations. Nonetheless, efforts began to build a Boston-based coalition that might apply for the money. It quickly emerged that of the four proposed coalition partners, only UWMB had the technical expertise to manage a large, federal grant with its associated paperwork.

    Learning Objective:
    This case examines the pros and cons of applying for the CCF grant. It outlines the potentially corruptive influence of large sums of money on grassroots organizations. Students will be asked consider the importance of political context--in this instance whether UWMB's application would appear party to a Republican agenda that promotes religion. They will also gain an understanding of how an initiative like FAA gets started, and consider both its pitfalls and rewards.

  • Other Details

    Publication Date: January 01, 2004
    HKS Case Number: 1760.0
    Case Author: Kirsten Lundberg
    Faculty Lead: Brent Coffin
    Pages (incl. exhibits): 17
    Setting: United States
    Language: English
    Funding Source: Pew Charitable Trusts
    _pages: 16-25
    _geography: US & Canada
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