Sunday, November 23, 2008

Obama's Plan for Partnering with Nonprofits

Obama and Nonprofits
President-elect Barack Obama's plan for partnering with the nonprofit sector
Thanks to the Chronicle of Philanthropy for consolidating this list of the proposals that our next President intends to push forward that relate directly to the work of nonprofit organizations:

Supports an increase in money for the National Endowment for the Arts. (Backed the proposed $35-million increase for the 2008 fiscal year approved by the House Appropriations Committee's interior subcommittee.)
Would increase the budget for the U.S. Department of Education's Arts in Education Model Development and Dissemination Grants and work with foundations and businesses to increase support for joint efforts with government.
Supports the proposed Artist-Museum Partnership Act (S 372) to allow artists to write off the fair market value of the work they donate, rather than just the costs of the materials.
Source: Obama campaign documents provided to the Arts Action Fund here and here

Would provide $10-billion a year to create Early Learning Challenge Grants to stimulate state projects; quadruple the number of eligible children for Early Head Start and increase Head Start funds; create a Presidential Early Learning Council to increase federal, state, and local collaboration.
Would double the budget for 21st Century Community Learning Centers, which receive federal grants to run after-school programs, so they can serve one million more children.
With his proposed "Step Up" plan, would support summer learning opportunities for disadvantaged children through partnerships between local schools and neighborhood organizations.
Would introduce an American Opportunity Tax Credit to ensure that the first $4,000 of a college education is free for most Americans, cover two-thirds the average cost of tuition at public colleges or universities, and make community-college tuition free for most students.
Source: Obama campaign

Energy Assistance
Favors more money for the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which helps low-income people pay their energy bills, with money provided from a windfall-profits tax on the oil and gas industry.
Would use some proceeds from a cap-and-trade system — which would require companies to pay for every ton of carbon emissions they released — to help low-income people cover heating and cooling bills.
Source: Leadership Council of Aging Organizations, presidential candidates survey

Estate Tax
Would keep the estate tax at levels scheduled to take effect in 2009: Heirs could exempt $3.5-million from taxes ($7-million for couples), with amounts above that taxed at 45 percent. (In 2008, heirs are allowed to exempt $2-million, or $4-million for couples. The tax rate above that is also 45 percent.)
Source: Obama campaign
Called a Republican proposal to repeal the estate tax in 2006 the "Paris Hilton tax break," saying it would help the "wealthiest of the wealthy." In his book The Audacity of Hope, Mr. Obama said it "would be hard to find a tax cut that was less responsive to the needs of ordinary Americans or the long-term interests of the country" than repeal of the estate tax.
Voted against an amendment in 2007 (S. Amdt. 507) to allow heirs to exempt $5-million, up from $2-million now (both amounts doubled for couples), and cut the tax rate for amounts above that from 45 percent to 35 percent. (Amendment defeated.)
Source: Obama Senate office

Federal Budget Deficit
"There's no doubt that we're not going to be able to do everything that I think needs to be done," but Senator McCain's calls for a spending freeze would be "using a hatchet where you need a scalpel." Would continue to give priority to early-childhood education, science education, affordable college tuition, energy independence, fixing the health-care system, and rebuilding the country's infrastructure.
Source: Transcript, debate with John McCain , September 26

Federal Government and Charities
Wants to see a government "that works," which means encouraging bright young people to become civil servants. "That does not crowd out the Red Cross. That doesn't crowd out the thousands of church groups that [helped Hurricane Katrina victims]. What it means is that each area has a role to play."
Source: Transcript, ServiceNation presidential forum

Housing Assistance
Would create an Affordable Housing Trust Fund to develop low-cost housing in mixed-income neighborhoods. It would use a small percentage of the profits of two government-sponsored housing agencies, Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, to create new housing units.
Source: Leadership Council of Aging Organizations presidential candidates survey

International Aid
Would double foreign aid to $50-billion a year by 2012.
Would establish a $2-billion Global Education Fund for primary education to help eliminate the "global education deficit."
Would create a Global Energy and Environment Initiative, start an Emerging Market Energy Fund, and spur the creation of a global mapping system to forecast the impact of climate change.
Would coordinate and consolidate more than 20 U.S. agencies currently involved in U.S. foreign aid into the U.S. Agency for International Development.
Source: Obama campaign document provided to the Center for Global Development

National Service
Would expand AmeriCorps from 75,000 slots to 250,000 and double Peace Corps slots to 16,000.
Would establish a Classroom Corps, Health Corps, Clean Energy Corps, Veterans Corps, Homeland Security Corps.
Would expand programs that connect people age 55 and older to volunteer opportunities.
Would set a goal that all middle- and high-school students do 50 hours of community service a year.
Would establish an American Opportunity Tax Credit worth $4,000 a year in exchange for 100 hours of public service.
Would ensure that at least 25 percent of College Work-Study money is used to support public-service opportunities.
Source: Obama campaign and video
Co-sponsor of the Serve America Act, S. 3487, which would expand the number of participants in year-long national-service programs to 250,000 by 2013 and create new federal service programs involving older Americans and high-school and college students.

Nonprofit Groups
Has pledged to create a Social Investment Fund Network, which would distribute government and private money to charities working on innovative projects that focus on issues that have been identified by cities as priorities — crime prevention or education, for example — and help expand successful ones to other regions.
Would create a Social Entrepreneurship Agency within the Corporation for National and Community Service, with a mission to improve coordination of federal programs that support nonprofit groups, foster nonprofit accountability, streamline processes for getting federal grants and contracts, and remove barriers that hinder smaller groups from participating in government programs.
Source: Obama campaign
Co-sponsor of the Serve America Act, S. 3487, which would create "community solutions funds" to help nonprofit groups replicate and expand innovative programs to help low-income people; "innovation fellowships" to help individuals start charities; and "volunteer generation funds" to help charities recruit more volunteers.
Co-sponsor of the GIVE Act, S. 3429, which would increase mileage rates for volunteers.

Would allocate $1-billion over five years for transitional jobs and career programs to help low-income Americans succeed in the work force.
Would create 20 Promise Neighborhoods in areas with high levels of poverty and crime and low levels of student academic achievement. Effort would be modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone, a charity that provides a wide range of services to youths in an entire neighborhood from birth to college.
Would "fully fund" the Community Development Block Grant program and work with urban leaders to increase help to the highest-need Americans.
Would expand the State Children's Health Insurance Program. Voted in 2007 for legislation to increase funds by $35-billion over five years, to $60-billion a year (vetoed by President Bush).
Source: Obama campaign

Religious Organizations
Would create a President's Council for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to help religious charities navigate the federal grant-making system.
Would prohibit grant recipients from using government money to proselytize, discriminate on the basis of religion against people they hire, or pay for religious activities.
Would train larger groups, such as an Islamic umbrella organization, a Catholic Charities office, or a secular charity like Public/Private Ventures, to offer advice to local religious and community groups in how to apply for grants, avoid proselytizing, understand hiring rules, and report results.
Would ask independent organizations to conduct unbiased evaluations of programs that get grants.
Would work with schools, religious organizations, and other nonprofit groups to expand summer learning programs to serve an additional one million children, at a cost of $500-million a year.
Source: Obama campaign

About the candidate's background
Donations to charity
Barack Obama, and his wife, Michelle, have donated $240,370 to charity over the last year, which represents 5.7 percent of their income, according to their tax return for 2007.
The Obamas donated to 33 churches and charities in 2007, with the United Negro College Fund receiving the largest gift, of $50,000. They also gave $35,000 to CARE, the international relief organization, and $26,270 to Trinity United Church of Christ, whose pastor is Jeremiah A. Wright Jr.
The Obamas released general information about their income and charitable donations since 2000 last month, which revealed a sharp increase in income and percentage of charitable contributions starting in 2005. From 2000 through 2004, the Obamas' total income did not top $300,000 and their charitable giving represented about 1 percent of their income.

Charity Affiliations
Directed the Developing Communities Project, a nonprofit organization that seeks to aid needy Chicago neighborhoods. Headed Illinois Project Vote, which helped register African-American and low-income voters in Cook County. Served as a board member of the Joyce Foundation, which makes grants to organizations working on environmental and economic-development issues in the Great Lakes area. Also served as a board member of the Woods Fund of Chicago, which supports projects to increase economic opportunities for people in the metropolitan area.

Spouse's Nonprofit Interests
Michelle Obama was founding executive directorof the Chicago office of Public Allies, a charity that receives federal money through AmeriCorps and trains people to work at nonprofit groups and become leaders. As an associate dean at the University of Chicago, she developed the university's first community-service program.

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