The Voice: Fall 2002

The Voice

Vanderwoerd receives grant to study faith-based organizations

The United States government’s decision to fund faith-based organizations has sparked much debate, and Jim Vanderwoerd, assistant professor of social work at Dordt, is right in the middle of it. As part of his Ph.D. program at the Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University, Vanderwoerd is researching the effects of government funding on faith-based organizations. Now, a new grant will allow him to extend his research into this controversial topic.

This summer, Vanderwoerd received confirmation that the Mandel Center for Nonprofit Organizations awarded him a $3330 grant to continue his research. He has already looked at two faith-based social services organizations in Northwest Iowa and Omaha, Nebraska, studying the effect of government funding on their policies.

“These organizations have one leg in the secular world, and one leg in their faith constituency world,” says Vanderwoerd. “I’m interested in knowing how they deal with that tension and keep from being tainted.”

The grant will allow Vanderwoerd to extend his research and study a third faith-based organization in Cleveland, Ohio, that has just recently been approved for government funding.

“I’m going to be looking at what tensions arise in these organizations, and how the leaders deal with these tensions,” he says.

This November, Vanderwoerd will put some of his research to work when he co-leads a workshop at the North American Association of Christians in Social Work Convention titled “Keeping the Faith in a Faith-Based Organization.”