Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • 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!

  • Faith & Community Based Partnerships a Key Part of Detroit’s Plan to Prevent Youth Violence

    Detroit Photo 3

    Chief of Police Ralph Godbee and members of the Federal Government meet with students from Osborn High School as well as faith-based and community organization focusing on Detroit’s Safe Routes initiative at Osborn High School.

    Last week I had the honor of travelling to Detroit along with my colleagues from the White House, DOJ, DOL, EDU, HHS and HUD.  As part of the National Forum on Youth Violence Prevention , we participated in a wonderful two day site visit focusing on the implementation of Detroit’ City Wide Youth Violence Prevention Plan.

    Over the past year Detroit has made considerable progress under the leadership of Mayor Dave Bing, Police Chief Ralph Godbee, US Attorney Barbara McQuade and their talented staff  who helped to lead the Youth Violence Prevention efforts in the city.   We toured the three target areas in Detroit’s Youth Violence Prevention plan (Cody, Denby and Osborn).  A key part of the plan is the successful implementation of their Safe Routes initiative.  One of the primary goals of Safe Routes is to increase the safety of students on their way to and from school.  Detroit has successfully enlisted faith based and community based volunteers who build relationships with students, and also patrol the surrounding communities acting as additional eyes and ears on the street.  We met with representatives from “Men on Patrol”, “the Man Network” and “M.A.D.E. Men” all volunteers who everyday of the week are up patrolling as early as 6:30am (rain, sleet or snow) to make sure that young people in their communities feel safe and are safe on their way to and from school.

    Detroit Picture 1

    Mayor Dave Bing speaks with Deputy Assistant to the President, Michael Strautmanis, DOJ Office of Intergovernmental Affairs Director, Portia Roberson and Office of Justice Programs Chief of Staff Thomas Abt.

    Detroit Picture 2

    Congressman John Conyers, US Attorney Barbara McQuade, DOJ FBNP Director Eugene Schneeberg, Strong Cities, Strong Communities lead Portia Roberson, Mayor Dave Bing, Chief Ralph Godbee at Press Conference aimed at elevating the importance of preventing Youth Violence in Detroit.

     Some of the highlights of the visit were:

    • We had the pleasure of announcing a $5.7 million DOJ COPS grant to the Detroit Police Department, which will pay for 25 new officers assigned directly to this initiative.  The Detroiters were grateful and excited about this concrete demonstration of support for their work.
    • In various meetings throughout the two days tour Mayor Dave Bing, Chief of Police Ralph Godbee, US Attorney Barbara McQuade and Congressman John Conyers and Hansen Clarke all demonstrated their commitment to keeping young people safe in the city.    
    • Participated in a packed room of committed steering committee members including youth representatives from YOUTH VOICES. 
    • We met with Officer Monica Evans from DPD who heads up the cities Operation Safe Passages: a community and law enforcement partnerships to create in-school alternatives to suspension and expulsion.
    • Another central theme of the site visit was a series of meetings discussing the planning and implementation of a Cease Fire intervention model in Detroit. 
    • The federal team was very fortunate to be able to participate in a Student Roundtable at Osborn High School.   This discussion was facilitated by Chief Godbee and included student representatives from the NSO Youth Leaderships initiative.  The Chief and students discussed how they felt safer since the launch of Safe Routes and can see the increased police presence and volunteer presence, and discussed ways in which youth and police can partner moving forward to make the Osborn area safer.

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

    Eugene Schneeberg is the Director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Justice.


  • Brevard County Looks Ahead with “Faith in the Future.”

    Brevard County Picture

    (From left) At the Faith in the Future job clubs event in Rockledge, FL: Tracy Washington, a certified grief recovery expert; Rita Elkins of Performance Excellence Partners; Alexia Kelley, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce; and Diana Miller, founder of Community Job Club in Northeast, OH.

    Recently, I was honored to join faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida for the launch of “Faith in the Future” – a new initiative to better serve job seekers. Due to the transitions in the NASA Space Shuttle program based in Brevard, thousands of aerospace engineers are unemployed and looking for new opportunities.

    Brevard Workforce, the local administrator of government workforce development funds, is collaborating with congregations and community groups to support and expand “Job Clubs”. A job club is a support group of unemployed individuals who meet on a regular basis to learn job search skills and techniques such as LinkedIn, expand professional networks, and receive emotional support.  The Department of Labor estimates that there are over 3,500 active Job Clubs hosted by congregations, public libraries, community colleges, nonprofit organizations and One Stop Career Centers.

    The Administration awarded $15 million to Brevard Workforce to help re-employ aerospace workers dislocated as a result of the Space Shuttle retirement. A portion of these funds is helping to support the Job Clubs program that works in partnership with community and faith-based organizations. The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Labor has been instrumental in supporting the community leaders of Brevard County in planning the Job Clubs through their own Job Club Initiative

    While in Brevard, I met with Ronald Caswell and William Bender, two distinguished aerospace engineers who are now partnering with Brevard Workforce.  Both Mr. Caswell and Mr. Bender spoke eloquently about their own experience, and offered excellent guidance to the participants regarding the essential features of effective job support initiatives.    

    Tracy Washington

    Aerospace Engineers Ronald Caswell and William Bender with Tracy Washington, a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, at “Faith in the Future” event which brought together faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida.

    Men and women in Brevard County are just like those nationwide facing the challenges of a job search.   Because these meetings take place in congregations and community-settings, people feel comfortable and at ease helping offset the oftentimes isolating nature of a job search.

    I would like to thank Brevard Workforce for their gracious invitation, and all of the faith and community leaders—including many employers—in Brevard who are sharing their time and talent through Job Clubs, employment ministries and other programs for job seekers.  Brevard County has been the technology center and launching pad for Space Shuttles that have expanded human knowledge for years. With their tenacity to expand employment opportunities, the citizens of Brevard County will continue to advance space exploration and reach new horizons for years to come.

    Alexia Kelley is the Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.