Defense Date


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy


Public Policy & Administration

First Advisor

William Bosher Ed.D.


President Bush’s Executive Order 13279 (December 12, 2002) encouraged the government to work with faith-based organizations to provide human services (i.e., Temporary Assistance for Needy Families, employment, homelessness services, and health care) to serve America’s low-income populations. Faith-Based Initiatives, and now President Obama’s Faith and Neighborhood Partnerships Initiative have created the foundation for further partnerships between faith-based organizations and local, state, and federal governments. Limited information exists regarding the overall effectiveness of the programs in encouraging churches, specifically African American churches, to engage in services delivery. This study explores the perceptions of church leaders that influence faith-based organizations, specifically African American churches in the southeast region of Washington, DC, to provide human services. The District of Columbia has eight local wards: southeast Washington encompasses Wards 7 and 8, and has a high concentration of poverty and African Americans. The District of Columbia Department of Human Services (2010) reports that in the year 2009, 97% of Ward 7 residents were African American with 26% residing in poverty; 94% of Ward 8 residents were African American with 35% residing in poverty. The work of early sociologists, W. E. B. Dubois and Franklin Frazier is utilized to frame the theoretical background (Ethnic Identity Model) for this study. Additionally, this study relies on an African American church analysis by Lincoln and Mamiya (1990) to highlight the historical and current role of the African American church. The purpose of this study was to examine the churches of southeast Washington, DC and the level of human services provided between 2000 and 2010, during both the Bush and Obama Administrations, to understand the perceptions of the factors that influenced the level of human services during the same time frame. The study utilized a qualitative design with descriptive statistics to shed light on human service delivery of faith-based organizations in the African American community. A semistructured interview was performed on a convenience sample of 20 pastors/church leaders of churches in southeast Washington, DC. These 20 churches were identified through the District of Columbia’s yellow pages and, additionally, other data sets including advocacy organizations and community groups. This study found that neither President’s Bush’s or Obama Faith Based Initiative significantly influenced the level of provision of human services by African American Churches located in Wards 7 and 8 of southeast Washington DC. Also this study found that the majority of African American churches in wards 7 & 8 in Washington DC are more flexible and able to determine the types of services they provide by the presenting community needs. The study results will inform policymakers about whether, and how, the churches’ role in service delivery changed after the implementation of President Bush’s Faith-Based Initiative. Presidents Bush and Obama view churches and community-based organizations as strong frontline resources to address desperate challenges related to poverty, but little is known about the effectiveness of their initiatives. The results of this analysis will assist churches, community organizations, and policy formulators in providing information that will help policymakers to make more informed decisions about the potential impact of churches for service delivery in the African American community. It will also provide information about barriers to participating as partners with the government.


© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

August 2012