.26 Demonstration Projects.

A. Grants.

(1) Demonstration projects shall be developed in partnership with the local department through grants approved by the Department to:

(a) Nonprofit organizations;

(b) Local education agencies;

(c) Local management boards;

(d) Local health departments;

(e) Religious organizations; and

(f) Institutions of higher education.

(2) A religious organization may participate in FIP on the same basis as any other nongovernment entity. The funds allocated to demonstration projects may not be used to further sectarian religious instruction or worship.

(3) An individual is not required to accept assistance from a religious organization if acceptance would violate the individual's bona fide religious beliefs and practices.

(4) All individuals receiving benefits under FIP shall be provided with clear and timely notice of their rights in accordance with the requirements of Article 88A, §47, Annotated Code of Maryland.

B. Request for Proposal.

(1) The Secretary shall award grants for demonstration projects through a competitive bid process which includes the:

(a) Issuance of a request for proposal in accordance with the requirements of Article 88A, §53, Annotated Code of Maryland; and

(b) Establishment of an evaluation panel to review competing proposals and to recommend to the Secretary those proposals which have the greatest programmatic and financial merit.

(2) The request for proposal for demonstration projects shall include requirements that:

(a) Applicants specify what goods or services they will provide to participants; and

(b) Each demonstration project shall:

(i) Complement the local department FIP plan; and

(ii) Address specific unmet local needs and barriers that prevent families from meeting the requirements of FIP.