How do I follow the money for these refugee resettlement groups getting federal grants and contracts?
Posted by Ann Corcoran on October 18, 2015
Editor’s note: I think I need to add another thing to my Frequently Asked Questions post which is now readily available just under our header above.
So many of our readers are eager to start researching the resettlement contractors working near you, so here are a few places to start to learn about how they are financed (this is in no way meant to be an all inclusive list, because I don’t know every place to research myself!).
But, first, although off-topic, I want you to see what a one-woman blogger accomplished in Chicago (not a refugee issue, but one involving fraud in the Chicago school system!). See here (hat tip: Judy). It can be done!
I’m tech-impaired, but if I can find stuff, so can you. It just takes a little patience!
Call or write the non-profit group:
Start with contacting the resettlement agency near you (a handy list is here). As IRS designated 501(c)3 organizations they are NOT allowed to keep their financial documents from you—they are required to give anyone who calls a copy of their financial statement and their Form 990 (if they have one). Legitimate churches are not required to file Form 990’s so some of the contractors are doing this federal work (resettling refugees) pretending to be churches only.
Go to Guidestar:
Find their IRS Form 990’s on Guidestar by going here and registering to use Guidestar. It can get tricky because you have to use their exact name as they filed on their Form 990. For example, you won’t find the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, but you will find its Form 990 by typing in HIAS, Inc.
USA Spending.gov is a very handy site as long as you know the exact name of the entity you are searching for. It also has the advantage of tracking across federal agencies and will give you grants and contracts! Enter the name of the non-profit in the search window in upper right.
For example, you might find that a resettlement contractor is getting cashola, not just from the Office of Refugee Resettlement (in HHS), but from the US Justice Department from some voter registration grants. If you don’t find the non-profit group listed, don’t give up right away, try to find the exact name it is using. I looked up a specific Catholic Charities this morning under its diocese name and nothing came up, but then I saw on their website that they had a slightly different name and found what I was looking for under that name.
Annual reports to Congress:
These are a treasure trove of information on grants and statistics on welfare use (among other things). I see here that they are late again. FY2014 should have been released months ago.
Office of Refugee Resettlement:
Go here to programs and click on those of your choice to see who is getting all of the (your!) money!
Non-Profit Facts. com:
A reader sent me this website, which I have never used until today, so try it too by clicking here. I did test it on the specific Catholic non-profit I searched at USA Spending.gov and was disappointed to see that this website did not mention the $140,000 HUD grant they had received in the last year. However, there are still some useful bits of information here. For example, I learned that this “church” group was not required to file a Form 990.
And, finally, you will need to check with your state and local governments about funding these ‘non-profit’ groups receive from you at that level. This post is meant to address only federal money flowing to them. You may have to use state public information laws to extract information from them.
Other suggestions that have worked for you? Send them my way!
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