Guidelines on Faith-Based Community Partners

Faith-based organizations, such as tutoring programs, food pantries and gardens, housed in religious institutions, such as churches, temples, mosques and synagogues, must have separate 501(c)3 status from those religious institutions. 

  • Community partners may not require SSU participants to engage in inherently religious activities (religious worship, religious instruction, or religious proselytization).
  • SSU participants may not engage in inherently religious activities such as giving religious instruction, conducting worship services/prayer, or religious proselytizing.* 
  • SSU participants may not recruit community volunteers to perform inherently religious activities or for volunteer positions that include a religious qualification.*
  • SSU participants cannot be required to have a background of service in a faith-based setting.
  • SSU participants cannot be required to belong to a particular religious group or adhere to a particular religious belief. 
  • SSU participants cannot be required to provide a letter of reference from a clergy member or other religious leader.
  • Community partners must be open to SSU participants regardless of their religion, sexual orientation, gender, race, ethnicity, national origin, sex, marital status, pregnancy, age, disability, medical condition or veteran status.
  • Faith-based organizations collaborating with SSU do not lose their right to display religious symbols or otherwise express their religious character.
  • SSU participants cannot be required to adhere to a community partner’s mission statement with a religious reference. Community partners may make it a requirement that SSU participants treat clients with honesty, respect, and compassion, or adopt a dress code that requires professional attire. In other words, as long as community partners avoid religious qualifications they retain discretion to design their program in a way that meets their objectives. 

* This restriction on inherently religious activities applies only to the SSU collaboration and does not apply to voluntary activities undertaken on an individual's own time. For purposes of reporting the number of volunteers recruited or coordinated, partnering organizations may count volunteers whose activities are non-religious activities. Any volunteer service hours reported must be limited to such activities.