Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • Let’s Move Faith and Communities Inspires Fresh Produce for 100 Food Pantries

    Since First Lady Michelle Obama’s recent announcement of a private sector commitment to build or expand 1,500 food stores, Americans across the country have been inspired to increase their communities’ access to healthy, affordable food. Ample Harvest has risen to the First Lady’s challenge to faith and community leaders to make fresh produce available for at least 10,000 locations in America through Let’s Move!, her initiative to reverse childhood obesity. Since it began partnering with Let’s Move Faith and Communities, Ample Harvest has brought fresh produce to more than 4,000 food pantries across the country. In July, 100 new food pantries joined the movement.

    Volunteer at The Garden of St. Mark's

    Camille Gaynor, a volunteer at The Garden of St. Mark's, smiles after harvesting a basket of produce to donate to her local food pantry. August 4, 2011.

    Ample Harvest is an innovative, non-profit organization that uses its website to connect gardeners who have excess produce to food pantries in need of fruits and vegetables. Ample Harvest not only helps diminish hunger, but also helps to improve nutrition of families without enough access to fresh produce, one of the First Lady’s primary concerns for America’s children.

  • White House and HHS Host Sickle Cell Disease Roundtable

    Braving the heat wave gripping much of the country, nearly 100 faith and community leaders visited the White House recently for a roundtable discussion to raise awareness and educate communities about sickle cell disease.  Gathered inside the Truman Room at the White House Conference Center, these leaders had the opportunity to hear briefings on HHS’ Sickle Cell Disease Initiative and ongoing work on this important health issue from senior HHS officials. They included Dr. Dora Hughes,Counselor for Science and Public Health for Secretary Kathleen Sebelius; Dr. Garth Graham, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Minority Health;Dr. Susan Shurin, Acting Director of the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute at National Institutes for Health (NIH); Dr. Sara Copeland, Medical Officer with the Genetic Services Branch at Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA); and  Dr. Althea M. Grant,  Chief of the Epidemiology and Surveillance Branch at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    Audience at Sickle Cell Roundtable

    Sickle Cell Disease Roundtable attendees listen to senior officials discuss the HHS Sickle Cell Disease Initiative. July 22, 2011.

    Speaking from the viewpoint of individuals who are living with sickle cell disease, Dominique Friend, a sickle cell disease advocate, spoke about the day-to-day challenges confronting patients and the need for greater education within the community.

  • Engaging Community Organizations in Education through Blended Learning Partnerships

    Blended learning – blending online and site-based learning – could dramatically reshape how community-based organizations (CBOs) partner with schools and parents.  Karen Cator, who directs our Office of Educational Technology, and I have been focusing on how blended learning promises new paths for CBOs to drive greater educational outcomes for students.   Karen and I recently had the opportunity to engage with key national stakeholders on this issue at meetings in New York City.

    On July 27, Karen was a featured speaker for The After School Corporation’s (TASC) Digital Learning Forum at Google New York.  The forum highlighted the potential for community organizations to use out-of-school time to bring next-generation learning to kids with the greatest needs.

  • Islamic Relief USA Starts Its First Summer Food Service Program

    Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), a faith-based disaster relief and development organization, celebrated the inauguration of its Summer Food Service Program (SFSP) with a ribbon cutting on Thursday, July 21, at An Nur School in Lanham, Maryland. The ceremony also marked the IRUSA’s support of Let’s Move Faith and Communities, First Lady Michelle Obama’s initiative to engage faith-based and secular non-profit organizations in feeding kids over the summer when school is out.

    The First Lady has challenged faith and community leaders to host 1,000 new SFSP sites, where kids gather to eat a healthy breakfast or lunch. IRUSA has pledged to host 50 new sites this summer. The ribbon cutting ceremony marked the opening of An Nur School’s summer feeding program as well as 30 other new SFSP sites supported by IRUSA!

    An Nur Summer School Student

    One of An Nur's aspiring summer school student awaits her turn to receive a lunch bag (Photo courtesy of IRUSA). July 21, 2011. (by IRUSA)

  • Connecting Communities in the Rocky Mountain West

    If you’ve spent even a few minutes on our website and blog, you are familiar with our mission: to build and support partnerships between faith-based and community organizations in order to most effectively serve Americans in need.   One way we do that is through our regional Connecting Communities for the Common Good eventsmost recently with a major convening in Denver.  Through a half-dayconference at the Colorado Convention Center, faith and community leaders from across the Rocky Mountain West were able to establish and maintain the important partnerships between government and community organizations.  We also had a rousing address from Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper, making for a tremendous event.

    President Obama is working to address the challenges communities are facing, from jobs, foreclosures, affordable health care and caring for our nation’s veterans.  He also understands that our government can’t tackle these problems alone.  That is why he formed the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships to build and support partnerships between government and community and faith-based organizations, in order to most effectively serve communities.

    Audience at Connecting Communities for the Common Good Conference, Denver

    Faith and community leaders hear from local and state leaders about community engagement “best practices” during a plenary panel. July 27, 2011. (by Cameron French)

  • A Great - and Historic - Day

    What do you get when you combine 200+ colleges, universities and seminaries; individuals from different religious backgrounds and beliefs; and an abiding passion for serving communities?

    You get a tremendous day at the White House…and the beginnings of a movement.

    Yesterday, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted hundreds of folks from colleges, universities, community colleges and theological schools around the country for the school-year kick off of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge.

    The idea behind the Challenge is simple: religious and secular student groups on a campus coming together, across religious lines, to conduct year-long service projects together.  From this simple notion, over 240 campuses have submitted detailed plans for advancing pluralism and interfaith understanding on their campuses.