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In January 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) to ensure that the faith-based institutions of Indiana were provided equal access to state and federal resources and services. With the establishment of the OFBCI, the responsibilities of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism (ICCSV) were folded in under the auspices of this new office. Together the OFBCI, with assistance from the ICCSV, provides information, training, technical assistance and limited grant funding to both community based and faith-based organizations seeking to make Indiana a better place to live for all citizens.
Hoosiers are a dedicated and selfless people who have a long and proud tradition of helping their neighbors and those less fortunate than themselves. Across Indiana, committed volunteers in faith and community-based organizations bring unique skills, services, and resources to address many of the state’s unmet needs surrounding housing, hunger, and health. Indeed, there are many opportunities for Indiana’s robust civic sector to partner with government to deliver services more effectively than either can do alone.
In January 2005, Governor Mitch Daniels created the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) to ensure that the faith-based institutions of Indiana were provided equal access to state and federal resources and services. With the establishment of this office, the OFBCI assumed the responsibilities of the Indiana Commission on Community Service and Volunteerism (ICCSV). The OFBCI, with assistance from the ICCSV, connects needs and resources through community-based organizations and faith-based organizations that serve those in need.
Governor Mike Pence continued the Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives (OFBCI) in January 2013 and tasked the agency with the following responsibilities:
• Connect faith and community groups, charitable organizations, private charities, voluntary associations, educational entities, and other nonprofit service organizations to promote volunteerism and community service;
• Lift up the ongoing great works being done to assist with family resources – like housing, hunger, and health – related to economic development, disasters, education, veterans affairs, and public safety;
• Promote innovative programs and initiatives and share best practices between state agencies and nongovernmental service providers; and
• Provide technical assistance, education, information, and other support to such groups and organizations to improve and strengthen Indiana’s volunteerism and community service infrastructure.
Mitch’s Kids – Since its inception in 2006, more than 10,000 Hoosier children, ages five (5) to fourteen (14) years old, have received homework assistance, tutoring, and career exploration through Mitch's Kids, an initiative in Boys & Girls Clubs throughout Indiana. Mitch’s Kids strives to bridge the achievement gap by increasing the quality and quantity of completed homework and improving student behavior and attitudes about school and learning.
Every year since the program began, the State of Indiana has committed $1 million in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds to Mitch's Kids, which works in conjunction with the Boys & Girls Club afterschool POWER Hour program at 77 clubs throughout the state. Ninety-five percent of participants are eligible for free or reduced-price lunch, and receive homework and tutoring sessions for a specified number of weeks and are tested to determine reading and math progress.
AmeriCorps*State – Begun in 1994, AmeriCorps*State provides opportunities for Americans to make an intensive commitment to service with the goal of “helping others and meeting critical needs in the community.” This is a national program administered by the Corporation for National and Community Service. In Indiana, the AmeriCorps*State grant is administered by the OFBCI with over twenty (20) sub-grantees directing AmeriCorps programs on a local, regional, or state-wide basis. This AmeriCorps network includes more than 630 Hoosiers in service. After going through competitive application process to join AmeriCorps, successful members are introduced to a highly structured, evidence-based approach to meeting community needs while receiving professional development and technical training throughout their service.
AmeriCorps members serve to meet local needs through over 300 faith-based and community organizations, public agencies, and higher education institutions across Indiana. Most member service projects in Indiana can be categorized under one of the six nationally-designated focus areas: disaster services, economic opportunity, education, environmental stewardship, healthy futures, and veterans and military families. Some common projects include mentoring and tutoring youth, building affordable housing, repairing and building trails in the state parks, and educating clients on the topics of financial literacy, job readiness, and nutrition.
OFBCI manages the grant application process for AmeriCorps*State, including issuing requests for proposals, conducting application reviews, and awarding grants based on ICCSV guidance. The office provides technical training and support to sub-grantees and in turn, monitors programs, host-sites, and members to ensure compliance to federal and state grant requirements. The performance of each program is tracked and measured to established targets and outcomes. Programs are expected to manage their projects with the end goal of sustainability beyond the grant.
HoosierCorps – HoosierCorps is a component of the Hardest Hit Fund (HHF), which is administered by the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority (IHCDA). The HHF helps homeowners to avoid foreclosure resulting from the loss of income due to layoff, reduction in force, or other job loss through no fault or neglect of the homeowner. The program offers qualified participants a monthly benefit to cover a portion of his/her first mortgage and related expenses while the individual seeks new employment. While a participant receives assistance, he or she must to either fulfill requirements of an approved education/training program or an approved HoosierCorps Volunteer Program.
As the OFBCI’s purpose is to maximize the power of service and volunteering to improve lives in communities across Indiana, the IHCDA elected to collaborate with the OFBCI on the structured volunteer activities component of HHF. This multi-agency partnership is complemented by the work of the Indiana Department of Workforce Development (IDWD), which handles education/training.
To date, over 1,300 unemployed Hoosiers have received mortgage assistance through the HHF program and over 500 Hoosiers have been referred to the OFBCI to volunteer.
Disaster preparedness and volunteer and donations management – As it is guided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the Indiana Department of Homeland Security (IDHS), the OFBCI offers support in addressing needs under Emergency Service Function 14 (ESF 14) – Long-Term Recovery. The OFBCI also works with the network of disaster service organizations known as Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (VOAD) and their local counterparts known as Community Organizations Active in Disaster (COADs) to increase Indiana communities’ ability to mitigate, prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. Through this involvement, even with the disruption and damage inherent in a disaster, the OFBCI will work with organizations and volunteers to address basic human needs.
Faith Outreach: Though the OFBCI has been involved in outreach to faith organizations since it was founded, the OFBCI began a systematic and deliberate outreach effort in 2012, reaching out to the leaders of more than 50 faith organizations across the state, including Buddhist, Jewish, Muslim, Sikh, and denominational and nondenominational members of the Christian faith. The OFBCI continues its mission to seek, engage, and connect people of all walks of life so they may put their faith in action by serving those in need.
Community Service Organization Outreach: Through the OFBCI’s programs and role in disaster-related donations and volunteer management, the OFBCI has a natural connection to organizations like the American Red Cross, the Salvation Army, the Fuller Center for Housing, Habitat for Humanity, and many others. As the OFBCI made deliberate efforts to reach out to faith organizations in 2012, it also created bridges to organizations like Optimist International and the Rotary Foundation. Additionally, the OFBCI works with the Corporate Volunteer Council of Central Indiana as it provides a conduit among corporate volunteerism, organizational connectivity, and philanthropy.
Collaboration: The OFBCI has a rich history of successful collaborations, including partnerships with the Indiana Faith-Based Advisory Council (IFBAC), various state agencies, the Indiana Nonprofit Resource Network, the United Way, the Indiana Voluntary Organizations Active in Disaster (Indiana VOAD), and the Social Assets and Vulnerability Indicators (SAVI) program (housed within The Polis Center at IUPUI). These partnerships, along with many others (including partnerships through the AmeriCorps and HoosierCorps programs), have yielded successful programmatic achievements, public education opportunities, outreach events, and fulfilled unmet needs.
Identifying Grant, Volunteer, Training, and Contract Opportunities: Seeking to provide a single location where Indiana nonprofits can access information from varying agencies within state government, the One Stop Shop Web Portal is a first-in-the-nation resource that helps Indiana's faith-based and community-based organizations access information about opportunities with state agencies. Whether it is information about grants, volunteering, training, or contracting, the One Stop Shop is the first place Indiana nonprofits should go to access information about opportunities to enhance their mission. The One Stop Shop can be visited at www.in.gov/ofbci/OneStop.htm
Strategic Marketing and Communications Initiatives: The OFBCI has made it a priority to update its website, transition to advanced email marketing technology, engage constituents via social media, improve transparency by increased use of new media, record radio public service announcements, direct content through community partners’ media, and place opinion editorials in newspapers. These efforts have diversified the OFBCI’s portfolio of engagement and strengthened its ability to increase public awareness of the OFBCI and its mission to serve those in need.