Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • Celebrating Eid and Reflecting on How Faith Works

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on USAID Impact, the official blog of the U.S. Agency for International Development. See the original post here.

    School girls in Sana’a gather for their lesson

    School girls in Sana’a gather for their lesson. Since many girls in Yemen do not attend primary school or graduate from it, recent USAID-backed measures have ensured all girls a right to attend school and increase literacy. (Clinton Doggett / USAID)

    Eid Mubarak. As Muslims around the world celebrate Eid al-Fitr, we share our warmest and joyous wishes with them and their families. Earlier this month, we hosted our Agency’s 12th annual Iftar dinner. It was—as always—a welcome pause from our daily responsibilities and a reminder of the mission we serve. As President Obama said, Ramadan is a time for spiritual renewal and devotion—a chance to honor a faith known for its diversity and commitment to the dignity of all human beings.

    We came together in reflection at a time when our mission—and our values—are being tested. Across the globe, millions of children, especially girls, face daunting threats. Syrian children continue to endure relentless dangers, from barrel bombs to extremist militias. Girls in India risk their lives simply by fetching water or visiting latrines. Children in Nigeria attend schools that are targets for terrorists rather than a sanctuary for learning.

  • Commerce Co-Hosts Business and Community Partnerships Summit in Denver, Colorado

    Group meeting at the Denver Business and Community Partnerships Summit.

    The U.S. Department of Commerce joins the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Mile High United Way, the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, the Office of Mayor Michael Hancock, and Opportunity Nation to co-host the Denver Business and Community Partnerships Summit.

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Commerce's blog. See the original post here.

    On Monday, the U.S. Department of Commerce joined the Denver Metro Chamber of Commerce, the Mile High United Way, the Office of Governor John Hickenlooper, the Office of Mayor Michael Hancock and Opportunity Nation to co-host the Denver Business and Community Partnerships Summit. This first-of-its-kind event highlighted innovative ways businesses are partnering with nonprofits, faith-based organizations, institutes of higher education and the public sector to improve their communities. In addition to promoting effective cross-sector partnership models focused on workforce development, healthy communities, education and the environment, the Summit educated participants on resources offered by the federal government and provided people an opportunity to connect with others in their community interested in partnering to effect positive change. Leaders from more than 130 organizations, including over 50 businesses and more than 60 nonprofits, participated in this inaugural event. Jay Williams, U.S. Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development, joined Congressman Ed Perlmutter in delivering keynote remarks.

    This was an important convening for the Commerce Department because it showcased the critical function that innovative partnerships between community-based organizations and the business community play in driving positive local development, particularly in the areas of skills and workforce training and education. The Summit also exhibited the significant contributions of multiple Commerce resources in facilitating effective community partnerships, including Economic Development Administration grants and Census data from the American Communities Survey.

  • Recognizing the Importance of Fathers

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Education's blog. See the original post here.

    One out of every three children in America — more than 24 million in total — live in a home without their biological father present, according to a 2012 White House Fatherhood Report. Roughly one out of every three Hispanic children and more than half of African-American children also live in homes without their biological fathers.

    The presence and involvement of a child’s parents protect children from a number of vulnerabilities. More engaged fathers — whether living with or apart from their children — can help foster a child’s healthy physical, emotional, and social development. While evidence shows that children benefit most from the involvement of resident fathers, research also has highlighted the positive effect that nonresident fathers can have on their children’s lives.

    Recognizing the importance of fathers in children’s physical, emotional, and social development, Shirley Jones, a program specialist in the Department of Education’s regional office in Chicago, partnered with the Detroit Area Dad’s PTA and the Detroit Public School system. Together, they organized the “Dads to Dads” forum at Detroit Collegiate Preparatory High School at Northwestern, where 350 men, women, and young adults committed to a day of discussion on how to best support children in their communities.

  • HUD CFBNP Continues Outreach and Training for Organizations Nationwide

    Among its many roles, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (HUD CFBNP) works to engage faith-based and community organizations nationwide to more directly involve them in the work of the agency. Working with program offices across HUD, the Center helps to advance HUD’s mission in many ways. For example, the HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing (HUD-VASH) program provides homeless veterans with housing and supportive services; the Continuum of Care program helps local communities and non-profit organizations fight homelessness by providing funding for rapid rehousing of homeless individuals. Finally, HUD CFBNP promotes inclusivity and combats discrimination in housing by supporting HUD’s programs for vulnerable populations, including the Supportive Housing for the Elderly and Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities programs.

    In terms of its core goal of outreach to communities, HUD CFBNP continues to offer its signature Capacity Building Training for Emerging Organizations series around the nation. These workshops help demystify the federal grant process and build organizational capacity. The series also addresses misconceptions surrounding partnerships between faith-based organizations and the government; helps non-profit organizations more effectively achieve economic empowerment and wealth creation for their communities; and educates faith-based and community organizations about HUD and federal grant opportunities.

    In day-long trainings, participants receive instruction from HUD staff on how to become more competitive for federal grants, how to become a nonprofit organization, and how to find and apply for funding. Using the HUD Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) process as a model, HUD CFBNP trainers show participants how to read the Federal Register, provide an overview of Grants.gov, help participants identify appropriate funding streams and potential partners for their program, and discuss other tools and skills necessary to prepare a successful grant.

  • Calling on Communities to Help Feed Children in Need

    With summer’s arrival, officials at the White House and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) are preparing for the Summer Food Service Program (SFSP). This program ensures that low-income children continue to receive nutritious meals when school is not in session. Free meals that meet federal nutrition guidelines are provided to all children 18 years old and under at approved SFSP sites in areas with significant concentrations of low-income children.

    Our offices recently hosted a nationwide conference call to thank faith and community leaders for their work in this area and to inform them about efforts surrounding the SFSP this summer. USDA Secretary Tom Vilsack kicked off the call, challenging community leaders to strive for an aggressive, but attainable goal: serving an additional 10 million meals over the course of the summer to better reach our children in need. Secretary Vilsack discussed the need for children to be well-nourished, an essential part of our commitment to helping children learn and thrive. 

    Executive Director of “Let’s Move!” Sam Kass also joined the call to reinforce the message that our concerted efforts are vital to the success of summer feeding efforts. Callers were encouraged to rely on resources like the new USDA summer meals toolkit and websites that educate parents about their families’ options. 

    To discuss how to further amplify this call to action and for more information, visit www.summerfood.usda.gov. For more information on actual sites where SFSP meals are being served, click here to find summer sites serving meals. Alternatively, you may call 1-866-3-HUNGRY or 1-877-8-HAMBRE (for Spanish speakers) to find a free, nutritious summer meal site near you. And for additional information on USDA partnerships, please visit www.usda.gov/partnerships.

    A special thanks to all of those who are committed to the success of SFSP 2014 and to helping children have a happy and healthy summer. 

    Melissa Rogers is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Norah Deluhery directs USDA’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

  • Working with Faith and Community Leaders on My Brother’s Keeper

    In February, as part of his plan to make 2014 a year of action focused on expanding opportunity for all Americans, President Obama unveiled the “My Brother’s Keeper” initiative to address persistent opportunity gaps faced by boys and young men of color and ensure that all young people can reach their full potential.

    During the launch, the President established the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force, with a mandate to determine which public and private efforts are working and how to expand them; how the federal government can better support these efforts; and how to better involve state and local officials, the private sector, and the philanthropic community.

    Today, the My Brother’s Keeper Task Force released its 90-day report. This report includes key indicators that provide a comprehensive view of the environments and outcomes for boys and young men of color and their peers. It also contains recommendations on steps our society can take to begin to expand opportunity for all in areas including:

    • Entering school ready to learn
    • Reading at grade level by third grade
    • Graduating from high school ready for college and career
    • Completing post-secondary education or training
    • Successfully entering the workforce
    • Reducing violence and providing a second chance

    While the Administration is identifying programs and policies that work, the President is also calling on Americans interested in getting involved in My Brother’s Keeper to sign a pledge to become long-term mentors to young people at http://www.whitehouse.gov/my-brothers-keeper. This effort will engage Americans from all walks of life to develop sustained and direct mentoring relationships that will play vital roles in the lives of young people. Faith and community leaders in particular know that all children need and deserve caring adults who are engaged in their lives.

    Today’s report is just the first step. In coming weeks and months, leading foundations will independently announce specific commitments to help ensure young people can succeed. 

    Further, the recommendations identified by the President’s Task Force mark the starting point of what will be a long-term effort—on the part of public, private, and philanthropic actors—that will continue well beyond this initial 90-day progress report. We look forward to continuing to work with faith and community leaders on these important issues.

    Melissa Rogers is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.