But now the state requires schools to work with both a faith-based group and a nonprofit set up by a business in order to receive funding.
Buddy Harris, a senior police analyst for the Ohio Department of Education, told the audience at a Thursday information session about the requirement.
"The faith-based organization is clearly at the heart of the vision of the governor," he said after the session, according to the Plain Dealer.
"We do not forsee any proseletyzing happening between mentors and students," Harris added. "That's not really what we're seeking."
The program was always meant to include religious groups, but their participation was not originally required in order for schools to qualify for the funding.
"Eligible school districts shall partner with members of the business community, civic organizations, or the faith-based community to provide sustainable career advising and mentoring services," the original law reads.
Rob Nichols, a spokesman for the governor, told the Plain Dealer that Kasich included the requirement because he "believes faith-based organizations play an important role in the lives of young people."