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‘It’s rigged’: Women’s health center CEO alleges bias in federal funding process

Getty Israel
Photo courtesy of Getty Israel

Each year, the federal government allocates large amounts of community project funding, also known as congressionally directed spending, but one nonprofit owner is accusing lawmakers of playing favorites with who receives grant money.

The Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 made $360.5 million in transit infrastructure grants available for community projects at the discretion of members of the House and Senate.

Getty Israel, founder and CEO of Sisters in Birth, said she reached out to four lawmakers representing the Magnolia State to secure funding for an expansion of her clinic and even received a pledge from Senator Roger Wicker, but was ultimately denied due to a licensing issue that had never been addressed to her prior to rejection.

Israel alleged that several of the Mississippi-based organizations receiving community project grants from various representatives and senators are not in a financially unstable position. Rather, she contends that the system is rigged to benefit entities with lobbyists and means of their own.

“These organizations don’t need the assistance of the federal government to do this work,” Israel stated on MidDays with Gerard Gibert. “This Christmas list is pretty much set aside for organizations that may have the tax structure of a nonprofit, but they don’t need the support that most nonprofit organizations need like my organization, which struggles to keep our doors open and provides direct services to poor people.”

According to Israel, a number of recipients of the grant money — many of which have tens of millions of dollars in net assets — will obtain funds from multiple lawmakers within the same year, raising ethical concerns behind the actual motive of the funding process.

Meanwhile, the women’s health center founder expressed her disdain with wealthier institutions obtaining assistance originally designed to assist nonprofits with greater financial needs.

“While these organizations provide good services, there are small struggling nonprofit organizations that cannot compete for this money,” Israel continued. “Many CEOs of these organizations know our legislators personally or they know their staffers. They can get them on the phone or they have a lobbyist. This is just politics as usual, but this money is supposed to be set aside for organizations that are doing community work and that need the help. These organizations don’t need the help.”

Israel hopes to see more parity in the process of selecting nonprofit organizations who receive community project funding in future years.

Watch the full interview with Israel below.

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