A 30-year-old District nonprofit organization that aids the poor has received The Washington Post's 2004 Award for Excellence in Nonprofit Management.

The award, in its 10th year, recognizes outstanding achievement in nonprofit management and is awarded after a months-long competition.

Bread for the City, which started as a joint venture among five churches in Northwest Washington, has grown into a $4 million organization that offers a wide mix of services and assistance to low-income District residents, including food and clothing, health and nutrition counseling, legal help and medical services. Two years ago, it expanded to Southeast Washington, opening a 8,600-square-foot facility on Good Hope Road in Anacostia. All of its services are free.

An 18-member committee headed by District management consultant James Lindsay selected Bread for the City from among 27 entries. This year, the winner received a $5,000 cash grant and a scholarship to a nonprofit management class provided at George Washington University.

The awards program is coordinated by the Washington Council of Agencies. The judges cited Bread for the City for its outstanding volunteers, its "strong organizational culture with core values of dignity and respect" and for reaching out to neighbors before it built its Southeast D.C. center. The organization, which has 46 full-time employees and some 500 volunteers, provides assistance to about 10,000 residents a month.

"In some ways, this is sort of a lifetime achievement award," said Bread for the City's executive director, George Jones. "It validates all the hard work of the thousands of volunteers, the staff and the board. We're being recognized not only for our good programs [and] our good works, but also the strong management of our mission."

Honorable mentions, which carry $2,500 prizes, were awarded to the four other finalists in the competition:

* Carpenter's Shelter, which serves homeless people in Alexandria.

* The Higher Achievement Program, an academic service for low-income students in the District.

* SOC Enterprises in Arlington, which provides employment for disabled.

* Threshold Services in Silver Spring, which offers services to the mentally ill.