City's double dealing on abstinence grant revealed
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City's double dealing on abstinence grant revealed

[Note: GLAA has obtained a copy of the following letter sent by DC Department of Health Director James A. Buford to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. We were told last week by a Mayoral staffer that the city had returned the federal abstinence-only education grant money it had received, but that turns out not to be quite true. The city has simply transferred control of the grant to Covenant House, one of its community-based partners. In the letter, Buford even recommends the DC Black Church Initiative, led by Rev. Anthony Evans, which was reported by The Washington Post on Monday to be unable to carry out a grant to feed poor children. Rev. Evans threatened GLAA earlier this year over the same abstinence-only grant. (To review that encounter, click here.) Buford's letter shows the city is trying to have it both ways -- pretending to satisfy our concerns about abstinence-only programs while ensuring that its partners in the grant still get all the federal money. We regard this as an outrageous bit of double dealing on the city's part.]

Government of the District of Columbia
Department of Health
825 North Capitol Street, NE, Suite 4400
Washington, D.C. 20002
FAX (202)442-4788

Office of the Director

June 13, 2003

Donna Hutten, R.N., M.S.
Division of State and Community Health
Maternal and Child Health Bureau
Parklawn Building, Room 18-44
5600 Fishers Lane
Rockville, Maryland 20857

Grant No. 1H1DMC 00530-01

Dear Ms. Hutten:

On June 13, 2002, the District of Columbia Department of Health (DOH) in partnership with other public, community, and faith-based organizations was awarded a grant in the amount of $763,583 by the United States Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS). The award set forth provisions for the implementation of an Abstinence-Only Education Program in the District of Columbia targeting youth ages 13 to 18.

The federal guidelines governing SPRANS etched out eight points of adherence. Entities receiving federal funding from SPRANS must implement programs in a manner consistent with those points of reference. While the grant focuses on teen pregnancy prevention, the Department has had difficulty implementing the program. As a public government entity the Department disagrees with points (2), (4) and (5) of the established abstinence education definition. These points raised issues of concern due in part to the declaration of abstinence-until-marriage as the expected standard for school aged children.

As a result, we requested that the Maternal and Child Health Bureau allow us to explore the opportunity of designating one of our community-based partners, as the new lead grantee for the Special Projects of Regional and National Significance (SPRANS) Abstinence-Only Education Program. After permission was granted we proceeded to identify a replacement candidate, most recently, we met with Covenant House of Washington. The Executive Director, Vincent Gray, has agreed to take over as the lead entity for this project. They are willing to serve in the capacity of lead grantee and have made arrangements to complete the grant's reapplication process. No final determination has been made with regards to additional project partners however; collaboration with the DC Black Church Initiative on the recreation and resubmission of a proposal is possible.

We still anticipate that more than 3,000 resident teens will benefit from this intervention and receive structured exposure to youth development practices, cultural enrichment, health education activities,, and peer-to-peer mentoring consistent with the grant application.

Should you have questions please contact me on (202) 442-5959, or Ronald Lewis, Deputy Director for Health Promotions, on (202)-442-5879.


James A. Buford

cc: Carolyn Graham
Pamela R. Bell
Michelle Lawler
Ronald Lewis
Marilyn Seabrooks Myrdal
Colleen Whitmore