Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • Focus on Violence Prevention in Pennsylvania Town Hall

    Recently, I had the privilege of speaking on behalf of the Obama administration at Alumni Auditorium in Widener University.  I talked to the audience about the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention, the Federal Reentry Council and the President’s Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative.  I was very impressed by level of commitment and passion shown by the residents of Chester, PA who turned out to discuss ways to keep their city safe for young people.  The three hour Town Hall meeting hosted by Grace Community Resource and Empowerment Center focused on Youth Violence Prevention and how Faith and Community Based organizations can partner with Law Enforcement and the City to have a dramatic impact on reducing youth violence.

    Panelists at Chester, PA

    From (Left) Panelists: Calvin Hodnett from the Community Oriented Policing Services Office at DOJ, Dr. Fatima Hafiz, Adjunct Professor Temple University, and Ben O’Dell, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services

    Those in attendance heard from a distinguished panel of Federal officials as well as local leaders including:

    • Calvin Hodnett from the Community Oriented Policing Services Office at DOJ
    • Ben O’Dell, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
    • Dr. Bayard Taylor, Senior Pastor at Calvary Baptist Church
    • Nicole Cogdell, Parent Advocate and Technical Advisor for “Brothers of Concern”
    • Chester City Councilman John Linder
    • Dr. Fatima Hafiz, Adjunct Professor Temple University.

    The audience made up of largely of Christian and Muslim faith leaders as well as representatives from a “Brothers of Concern” a group of volunteer outreach workers, also heard from Mayor Wendell Butler as well as Robert Reed Executive Assistant US Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania who fielded questions from the audience about enforcement efforts. 

    The discussion centered largely around the work of the Chester Reentry Collaborative, and what more could be done to prevent youth violence and increase opportunity for young people as well as the role of fathers and parents as part of the solution. 

    Learn more about the work that can be done in your community to help prevent youth violence.

    Learn how you can help support and the President’s Fatherhood & Mentoring Initiative.

    Learn more about how your community can strengthen its efforts around Prisoner Reentry.

    Eugene Schneeberg is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Community Initiatives at the Department of Justice.

  • 4-H National Youth Science Day

    4-H Science day

    Students at the National 4-H Center testing wind turbine models

    When many people hear “4-H” they think of kids competing at the county fair. In fact, 4-H is one the nation's most expansive community-based efforts focusing on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. 4H implemented through the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Cooperative Extension System has programs in every state in the nation. More than five million young people across the nation participate in year-round 4-H STEM programming.

    STEM education was front and center on October 5 when I joined dozens of students at the National 4-H Center in Chevy Chase, Maryland for the fourth annual 4-H National Youth Service Day.  This event was one of hundreds across the country where youth explored renewable energy production through Wired for Wind - the 2011 National Science Experiment.

  • Atlanta Falcons Scout Responds to Call for Action on Fatherhood

    In response to the call by President Obama to strengthen fathers and families, the NFL Players Association shared the initiative with players, encouraging them to showcase the role of fathers and mentors in their communities.

    Ran Carthon, a pro scout with the Atlanta Falcons, responded to the call with an innovative idea: The Fatherhood Ticket Program. Because Carthon wanted to highlight positive role models for change in his community, he put out a call for stories written by children of fathers who are mentors and leaders. From the submissions, a winner was selected to receive tickets, sideline passes and parking passes to six Atlanta Falcons games.

    Check out a video of the winner and watch a recap of the winners’ visit to the game.

    Carthon’s efforts could not be contained within the stadium. He also reached out to the principal of his daughter’s school, Harmony Elementary School, to launch an All-Pro Dads program. The principal welcomed him into the school as a way to get more fathers engaged in school activities and programming. When Carthon hosted a breakfast with food from a local restaurant, 75 dads showed up to talk about being involved in their families and communities.

    Carthon’s story is just one of many around the country responding to the call from President Obama to strengthen the role of fathers in their families and communities. Share your story with us at

    Ben O’Dell serves as an Associate Director in the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Health and Human Services

  • Muslim Communities Serve Neighbors Across Country in a Day of Dignity

    Heidi HHS Picture

    Islamic Relief staff and volunteers gather after a day of service in Baltimore October 1, 2011.

    This past Saturday, October 1, staff from the HHS Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships (The Partnership Center) joined with American Muslims and community volunteers at Day of Dignity events in Baltimore, MD and Philadelphia, PA. Held simultaneously in 15 cities across the country, Day of Dignity was sponsored by Islamic Relief USA and served over 20,000 homeless Americans and people in need.

    On Saturday’s frosty early fall morning in West Baltimore, volunteers from the Masjid Ul Haqqand the Muslim Social Services Agency, led by Imam Hassan Amin and his son Karim, spread out into the community to invite people from homeless shelters, parks and the streets along historic Pennsylvania Avenue—an area where it is estimated that 38 percent of residents live below the poverty line. Over the day, more than 900 men, women and many children received a warm meal, fresh clothing, hygiene kits, blankets, books and toys.

    Many participants found sustaining support in the healthcare offerings coordinated by the HHS Partnership Center, which has taken up the President’s charge to actively engage faith communities in reducing health disparities. With the assistance of the National Alliance for States and Territorial Aids Directors (NASTAD), rapid screen testing for HIV/AIDS was offered at over 10 of the Day of Dignity events. In Baltimore, many chose to be tested for both HIV/AIDS and communicable diseases by a team manning a STAR Mobile Unit- a faith-based.

  • Connecting Communities in Detroit for the Common Good

    Detroit Faith-based Event

    Attendees gathered in Wayne County Community College to participate in the Connecting Communities for the Common Good conference in Detroit, Michigan.

    Michigan and the city of Detroit have a long history as beacons of American ingenuity and innovation.  After years of plant closings and shrinking populations, both have had significant challenges.  However, the recent recovery of the auto industry and the ingenuity of faith and community leaders who are taking the lead in tackling community challenges are ensuring that this American state and city live on for decades to come.

    Nearly 500 of these leaders from across Michigan and the city of Detroit joined me and other representatives from across government for our latest stop on our Connecting Communities for the Common Good conference series.  Held at the Wayne County Community College District in downtown Detroit, leaders gathered to learn more about how government at all levels can partner with faith-based and neighborhood organizations to impact community needs.

    The day’s conference brought together a powerful list of local officials and Administration representatives including, Congressman John Conyers, Congressman Hansen Clarke and Congressman Gary Peters.

  • Promoting Economic Recovery and Job Creation Through Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

    Symposium Photo

    Faith and Community leaders gathered to participate in a breakout session offered by the Department of Labor in the White House Symposium on Economic Recovery and Job Creation.

    Faith and community leaders from across the country joined the White House, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), Department of Commerce, Department of Labor, US Department of Agriculture, the Treasury Department, and nonprofit peers on September 22nd for a symposium on strengthening the role of faith-based and neighborhood partnerships in economic development and job creation.  Joshua DuBois, Executive Director of the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, welcomed participants and introduced our facilitator for the day, SBA Deputy Administrator Marie Johns. Joshua, Marie, and other federal officials focused our attention on innovative resources available for job creation and economic development, as well as highlighted best practices of faith-based and non-profit organizations. 

    Among the day’s highlights was the panel on successful faith-based and community initiatives to foster economic development in underserved communities. Wendy Bauman explained that her organization, Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative, received one of the first SBA microloans, which she used to launch a women’s microloan program currently managing a $3.2 million portfolio. Mercy Partnership Fund, another of the showcased microlenders, receives its capital from Sisters of Mercy who voluntarily invest their retirement funds. Despite serving the poorest of the poor, who often lack collateral, Sister Corrine Florek emphasized that her organization’s portfolio “hasn’t lost a cent” since the economic downturn!