Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • National Adoption Month at the White House

    White House National Adoption Month Event

    Kathleen Strottman, Executive Director of the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute, presents on international adoption issues alongside other panelists at a White House event to commemorate National Adoption Month. November 28, 2011.

    Yesterday, The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted an event to observe and celebrate National Adoption Month. We’ve had a lot to celebrate since National Adoption Month last year regarding adoption and child welfare. For the second time in this Administration, the President signed into law another extension of the Adoption Tax Credit. The President also signed into law legislation passed by Congress to improve and innovate foster care and child welfare services, as well as legislation to improve international adoption. The event featured senior Administration officials and congressional leaders, including: Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, Administrator Lisa Jackson, Senator Amy Klobuchar, Rep. Karen Bass, Commissioner Bryan Samuels, Amb. Susan Jacobs, and USAID Deputy Administrator Robert Clay. In attendance were adoption and child welfare experts and advocates, service providers and faith leaders. This event was an important continuation of the President’s leadership on the issues of adoption and child welfare.

    Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, welcomed participants with the President’s ongoing support of adoption and the notion that every child deserves a family. As this event was first and foremost about celebrating the positive impact adoption has had for so many Americans, it was appropriate to begin with EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson as our opening speaker. An adoptee herself, Administrator Jackson is now making a positive and powerful difference in the lives of children and families as the senior Administration official working on environmental issues. 

    We were also proud that Secretary Kathleen Sebelius could join us, continuing her annual tradition of partnering with our office during National Adoption Month.  Secretary Sebelius discussed the Administration’s initiatives to promote adoption by extending, increasing, and making refundable the Adoption Tax Credit and by supporting the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act, which the President signed this fall.  Commissioner Bryan Samuels, who assists Secretary Sebelius as head of the Administration on Children, Youth and Families, spoke about his office’s efforts to reduce long-term foster care in favor of permanent families for children.

    Among our partners on the Hill, Senator Amy Klobuchar discussed her sponsorship of the International Adoption Simplification Act. There are families that were formed, siblings that were able to stay together, because of this legislation that President Obama was proud to sign into law in November 2010.  Representative Karen Bass also delivered remarks describing her legislative leadership on adoption and foster care issues, which includes her key involvement in the Child and Family Services Improvement and Innovation Act and her role as co-chair of the Congressional Caucus on Adoption and Congressional Caucus on Foster Care.

    Our discussion throughout the afternoon centered on three issue areas: international adoption, infant adoption, and foster care adoption.  Ambassador Susan Jacobs, Special Advisor for Children’s Issues at the State Department, and USAID Deputy Administrator Robert Clay joined other international adoption panelists focusing on public and private efforts to facilitate intercountry adoptions.  Infant adoption experts then discussed their efforts to destigmatize adoption, and ensure it is a viable option for pregnant women.  To close our afternoon, foster care panelists dispelled the myth of ‘unadoptable’ children and described initiatives to find families for teenagers and for youth with special needs.

    We thank all involved in the discussion on Monday for their work on this important issue, and we will delve into the information shared at the event in a series of blogs posts throughout the week.

    Michael Wear serves as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

  • White House to Host National Adoption Month Event

    Today, The White House will be hosting an event to observe and celebrate National Adoption Month. This event will feature senior Administration officials, members of the President’s Cabinet, adoption and child welfare experts and advocates, and religious leaders.

    We will feature information provided at this event on our blog throughout the week—including expert advice on how YOU can support adoption in your community.

     Additionally, a portion of today’s event will be available for livestreaming at beginning at 11:30 AM.

     We are proud to join so many organizations and families across the country to celebrate adoption.

     Michael Wear serves as Executive Assistant to the Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

  • Strengthening Nonprofit Leadership Together

    Nonprofit breakout photo

    Nonprofit, corporate, and government leaders addressed key issues for the social sector during their working sessions at the White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership. November 15, 2011. (by Michael Temchine)

    Last week, we were excited to host more than 250 nonprofit, corporate, and government leaders for the White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership at the American Red Cross.  The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation convened a day-long dialogue on the important role of nonprofit organizations and how to develop leadership within the sector to drive the expansion of community-based solutions to our nation’s most pressing social problems and to create jobs.

    “This forum addresses a central concern within the sector,” said Melody Barnes, the President’s Domestic Policy Adviser and the Director of the Domestic Policy Council, in her opening remarks.  “Because we have historically undervalued and underinvested in nonprofit talent and leadership, these areas represent some of the greatest untapped potential for increasing the capacity of the sector. We can only succeed by ensuring that we have the right leaders in the right roles, and that those individuals are properly trained, managed, and supported.”

    President Obama is doing his part to foster nonprofit leadership.  One of the first pieces of legislation the President signed into law was the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act, which supports current and future needs of the social sector by expanding AmeriCorps, creating the Social Innovation Fund, and strengthening the public-private partnership model at the Corporation for National and Community Service.  The President has also made it easier for faith-based and secular groups to work with the federal government through our 13 Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Centers housed across the Administration.  The work of these Centers has been compiled in a new “Partnerships for the Common Good” toolkit, a comprehensive guide highlighting opportunities for faith-based and secular nonprofits to work with the government to achieve common goals.

    Joshua Poster

    Creative word pictures captured visionary ideas last Tuesday at the White House Forum on Nonprofit Leadership. November 15, 2011.

    Jonathan Poster

    November 15, 2011.

    At the Forum, our cross-sector colleagues exchanged ways to continue strengthening nonprofits to tackle national challenges. Through five concurrent working sessions, leaders focused on advancing diversity and inclusion; developing cross-sector talent pipelines; equipping leaders to face tough challenges; scaling social innovations; and catalyzing public and private investments in leadership. 

    After discussing strategies for their organizations and their sector, Forum participants took a lesson in leadership from Ken Chenault, Chairman and CEO of American Express, a co-convener of the event.  Other Forum co-conveners included The Annie E. Casey Foundation, The Aspen Institute Program on Philanthropy and Social Innovation, Center for Creative Leadership, Commongood Careers, Independent Sector, and Public Allies. 

    Valerie Jarrett, Senior Advisor to the President, closed the day’s activities with praise and exhortation: “As leaders in the non-profit sector, you have the ability, and the responsibility, to make a difference in the lives of countless Americans. And in these challenging times, our country needs each of you.”  

    Joshua DuBois is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Jonathan Greenblatt is Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the White House Office of Social Innovation and Civic Participation.

  • Passion for Justice Brings Michigan Students for a Dialogue at the White House

    ISN Meeting

    Students gathered to hear from Felicia Escobar, Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Domestic Policy Council and Alexia Kelley, Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships November 14, 2011.

    Recently, we hosted a meeting with nineteen students from the University of Detroit Mercy, University of Michigan- Ann Arbor and Jesuit volunteers who traveled to Washington DC for the 14th annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice (IFTJ) events sponsored by the Ignatian Solidarity Network at Georgetown University. This annual gathering brought together over 1,000 students, teachers, parish members and faith-based and community leaders.

    At our meeting, we met Kelly Miguens, a University Minister and Jesuit Volunteer at the University of Detroit Mercy and the lead organizer for the group. She helped facilitate our discussion with the students and offered some context on some of their current initiatives. The students and JVC volunteers engaged in a lively conversation with Alexia Kelley, Deputy Director and Senior Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships  about the work of the White House Office and its satellite centers across the federal government. Felicia Escobar, Senior Advisor for Immigration Policy at the Domestic Policy Council also spoke to the group about the work of her office on immigration policy issues.

  • Ohio’s Job Clubs Use Social Capital and Social Media to Help Job Seekers Succeed

    In Northeast Ohio there is a growing movement of community-based job clubs finding success in helping a wide range of workers get and keep good jobs. To learn more about the work of these job clubs and to facilitate partnerships between these groups and the Department of Labor administered workforce investment system, my office held a regional symposium in Cleveland earlier this month as part of our broader Job Clubs Initiative.
    Jobs Club Ohio

    More than 150 people attended the Jobs Partnership Cleveland event hosted by Mt. Zion Congregational Church.

    More than 150 people attended the event hosted by Mt. Zion Congregational Church and the job club they sponsor, Jobs Partnership Cleveland. We heard from local job club leaders and some of their members. One such member was Emma Daniel, who described herself as a recovering addict who has been a certified clerk for more than 20 years. She was also incarcerated for several years. Following her release from prison, she could not find employment for 7 years. She recently landed a new job through the help of Jobs Partnership Cleveland. Her participation in the job club opened her eyes to the value of neighbors helping neighbors. She is now speaking and sharing her own success story at area women’s substance abuse treatment centers to, in her words, “pay it forward.”

    The concept of paying it forward inspired by job clubs was also revealed in the story of Jon Gamertsfelder. Jon is a member of Hudson Job Search located in the Cleveland suburbs of Summit County. After recently losing his job as the result of a downsizing, he began attending the job club meetings to expand his network and develop his networking skills. Hudson Job Search delivered for Jon and he is now gainfully employed at BASF Corporation. Despite working he continues to remain involved in the job club as one of approximately 50 volunteer advisors who provide valuable one-on-one coaching and counseling. According to Jim Ahern, director of Hudson Job Search, half of his volunteer advisors are in fact former “clients” who found their jobs through the group and are now returning the favor.

  • Celebrating Interfaith Collaboration with the Rumi Forum

    RUMI FORUM pictures

    Rumi Forum President Emre Celik and award recipients (l-r) Nontombi Naomi Tutu, receiving on behalf of Archbishop Desmond Tutu; Diane Rehm; Dr. Alan G. Merten; Karen Chane, receiving on behalf of Rev. John Bryson Chane; and Joshua DuBois.

    Launched in 1999, the Rumi Forum has consistently worked to foster interreligious and intercultural understanding at a pivotal time in our human history.  Recently, we were honored to attend the 2011 Rumi Peace and Dialogue Awards, the Turkish American organization’s annual celebration of leadership towards global harmony.

    The Director of our Office, Joshua DuBois, received the “Extraordinary Commitment to Public Service Award” for his work as Special Assistant to the President and Executive Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.  Also recognized by the Rumi Forum were Archbishop Desmond Tutu, Dr. Alan G. Merten, Diane Rehm, and Rev. John Bryson Chane.  Each was commended for his or her work to promote peace and dialogue through service in government, church, higher education, or media.

    Joshua DuBois reflected on President Obama’s formative experience working across religious lines on the South Side of Chicago. Today, this commitment to interfaith collaboration is reflected in the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge, in which more than 250 colleges, universities, and theological schools are participating in the first year. The Religion and Foreign Policy Working Group, recently launched by the State Departmentand our Partnerships Office, engages the expertise of diverse religious and civil society leaders to explore the role of religious understanding and engagement in US foreign policy.