Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • In the State of the Union, It’s About Values

    President Barack Obama Delivers The State Of The Union Address

    President Barack Obama delivers the State of the Union address in the House Chamber at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., Jan. 24, 2012. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

    There was a lot for the faith community in President Obama’s State of the Union speech last night, a lot that spoke to our values.  See some of my favorite passages below, and check out the entire speech at


    Values in the economy

    • “An economy built to last, where hard work pays off, and responsibility is rewarded.”
    • “[T]he basic American promise that if you worked hard, you could do well enough to raise a family, own a home, send your kids to college, and put a little away for retirement.”
    • “In 2008, the house of cards collapsed. We learned that mortgages had been sold to people who couldn't afford or understand them. Banks had made huge bets and bonuses with other people's money. Regulators had looked the other way, or didn't have the authority to stop the bad behavior. It was wrong.”
    • “Jackie Bray is a single mom from North Carolina who was laid off from her job as a mechanic. Then Siemens opened a gas turbine factory in Charlotte, and formed a partnership with Central Piedmont Community College. The company helped the college design courses in laser and robotics training. It paid Jackie's tuition, then hired her to help operate their plant. I want every American looking for work to have the same opportunity as Jackie did. Join me in a national commitment to train two million Americans with skills that will lead directly to a job.”

    Values in education

    • A great teacher can offer an escape from poverty to the child who dreams beyond his circumstance. Every person in this chamber can point to a teacher who changed the trajectory of their lives. Most teachers work tirelessly, with modest pay, sometimes digging into their own pocket for school supplies - just to make a difference.”
    • “Teachers matter. So instead of bashing them, or defending the status quo, let's offer schools a deal. Give them the resources to keep good teachers on the job, and reward the best ones. In return, grant schools flexibility: To teach with creativity and passion; to stop teaching to the test; and to replace teachers who just aren't helping kids learn.”

  • On Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, Honoring "Drum Majors for Service"

    Each day in cities and towns across our country, countless Americans are living out Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy through their service to others.  In his famous speech on The Drum Major Instinct, Dr. King said that it isn't "a desire to be out front, a desire to lead the parade, a desire to be first" that should define greatness, but rather, "everybody can be great...because everybody can serve."

    On this Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and throughout the year, we are proud that the Obama Administration's Corporation for National and Community Service in conjunction with will be highlighting "Drum Majors for Service," volunteers who perform extraordinary everyday acts of service, but who seldom receive recognition. This is an exciting new way to honor those who are living out Dr.  King's legacy each day of their lives.

    Today, is highlighting 88 year-old retired Chicago transit worker and ex-Marine Theodore Peters, a true Drum Major for Service. Check it out here, and keep checking back for more stories of Drum Majors for Service.

    Joshua DuBois serves as Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

  • Health Care Conference Calls Changing Lives, Engaging Thousands

    For people like Sam, the HHS Partnership Center’s conference calls on the health care reform law, have helped connect them to affordable, quality health care coverage despite unemployment and a major pre-existing condition. In May, Sam was unemployed, could not afford health insurance and then experienced a massive heart attack. He survived his heart attack but now has a significant pre-existing condition that insurance companies either refuse to cover or cover at a very high cost.

    Sam was on one of the interactive conference calls sponsored by the U.S. Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships where he learned about the Pre-Existing Condition Insurance Plan, PCIP. He learned that he was eligible for affordable health care coverage that will cover all of his medical needs, including his pre-existing cardiac care. He went to for more information and now has the health care coverage he needs.

    in 2012, the Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships will continue its series of interactive conference calls for faith and community leaders explaining the benefits and provisions of the new health care law. Over 800 people registered for a call on the Affordable Care Act and Behavioral Health. The call was so popular, it is being held again in early February.  To date, more than 5,000 faith and community leaders have participated in the HHS Partnership Center’s conference call series.

    You can join the calls too!  To register for these calls, click on the links below. Please join us so that you can share the new health care information with members of your congregation and community!

    Lines are opened for questions at the end of every call, giving listeners calling in from across the United States a unique opportunity to interact directly with HHS staff and ask questions they may have about the Affordable Care Act.

    On January 19, the Center will also host a live, interactive tour of The tour will highlight the site’s many resources to help people take control of their health, access affordable health care coverage in their communities, and understand how the law is being implemented in different states.

    To learn more about future interactive conference calls on the Affordable Care Act, sign up for the HHS Partnership Center newsletter at

    In January and February, conference calls will take place on: 

    January 19, 3:00 pm ESTTour of

    January 24, 2:00 pm EST–  ACA 101 (in Spanish)

    January 31, 12:30 pm EST–  ACA 101

    February 2, 12:30 pm EST–  ACA and Behavioral Health

    February 28, 2:00 pm EST–  ACA 101 (in Spanish)

  • In Case You Missed It: 2.5 Million More Young Adults Now Have Health Insurance

    We are thrilled to report that the CDC released data last month showing that 2.5 million more young adults now have health insurance coverage thanks to health reform.   In September 2010, an Affordable Care Act policy went into effect allowing young adults to stay on their parents' insurance plans through age 26.

    “Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 2.5 million more young adults don’t have to live with the fear and uncertainty of going without health insurance,” said Secretary Kathleen Sebelius.  “Moms and dads around the country can breathe a little easier knowing their children are covered.”  Check out this HHS press release for more details.

    “The data announced today show that, because of the health care law, there is a continued and consistent pattern of improved health coverage among young adults,” said Sherry Glied, Ph.D., HHS Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation.  “The Affordable Care Act has helped literally millions of young adults get the health insurance they need so they can begin their careers with the peace of mind that they’re covered.”   You can find out more here on this CDC fact sheet.

  • The DREAM Sabbath: Faith and Neighborhood-Based Partnerships and Immigration Reform

    Last December, after a disappointing vote on the DREAM Act, President Obama stated, “I am persistent.  If I believe in something strongly, I stay on it.  And I believe strongly in this.” A year later, his commitment to the DREAM Act still stands.  For this reason, our Administration continues to work with faith and community leaders, students, and advocacy groups to spread awareness on the importance of the DREAM Act and continue the conversation on fixing our broken immigration system.

    One of the many groups working to advance immigration reform has been the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.  Through an initiative titled the DREAM Sabbath, interfaith groups held events all over the country, highlighting stories of DREAM students and facilitating conversations between communities on the importance of the DREAM Act.

    In their DREAM Sabbath Scrapbook, a report highlighting all the DREAM Sabbath events, media clips, and pictures, the initiative is described as, “a time when faith and action came together…”

    The DREAM Act would allow young people who were brought to the U.S. through no fault of their own and grew up as Americans an opportunity to earn a legal status if they meet numerous requirements, including attending college or serving in the military. As the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office reported, the DREAM Act would cut the deficit by $1.4 billion over the next 10 years, and in these economic times, this is more meaningful than ever before.

  • Let’s Move Faith and Communities Looks to 2012

    Let's Move Faith and Communities Meeting

    Let's Move Faith and Communities meeting participants including Barbara Baylor and Rev. Dr. Michael Murphy (United Church of Christ), Rev. Dr. Deborah Patterson and Stephen Patterson (Northwest Parish Nurse Ministries), Paul Chapman (4-H Youth Development Organization), Gary Oppenheimer (, Elder Ted Wilson and Mrs. Wilson (Seventh-Day Adventists), and Dr. Carroll Baltimore (Progressive National Baptists) share their experiences leading wellness initiatives in their congregations and communities. December 9, 2011.

    Over the past year, faith-based and community organizations have been on the move ramping up their efforts to make their communities healthier through First Lady Michelle Obama’s Let’s Move Faith and Communities challenges issued in November 2010.  Over the year they hosted an additional 1,100 summer food service sites, where they served meals to low-income kids who otherwise wouldn’t have received those meals once school let out.  Their communities collectively walked 2.85 million miles. They brought produce close to home, contributing to more than 8,500 gardens, farmers markets, and food pantries, where folks could access fresh fruits and vegetables. And they joined communities across the country in earning 1.7 million Presidential Active Lifestyle Awards (PALA) through the PALA Challenge.

    To celebrate the year’s accomplishments and look ahead to 2012, the Office of the First Lady and the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted a group of faith and community leaders for a Let’s Move Faith and Communities consultation in December. We wanted to learn from each other’s experiences and brainstorm how we can work together in the coming year to build wellness into communities for the long term.

    And learn we did! Elder Ted Wilson of the Seventh Day Adventists told us how his denomination is integrating nutrition and physical activity into everyday life through Adventists InStep for Life. He said, “We need to make physical activity a basic part of a healthy lifestyle. Physical and spiritual health are tied together in a very dynamic way.” Steve Becker from the Jewish Community Centers Association shared his organization’s plan to use the CATCH curriculum in their early childhood education to ensure children build a holistic foundation for a healthy life. Denise Hunter, First Lady of First African Methodist Episcopal Church in Los Angeles and President of FAME’s corporate ministries, shared the success of Let’s Move LA in inspiring her community: “One of the hallmarks of a good leader is that you build good leaders from the people around you. Collectively we can do so much together. We don’t need to be superman; we need to empower people.”