Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • The White House Partners with Hindu American Seva Charities for Historic Gathering

    Hindu American Seva Charities Essay Contest Participants

    Conference and essay contest participants join together at the Hindu American Seva Charities meeting in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building's South Court Auditorium. July 29, 2011.

    A 3-day conference in Washington, D.C., convened by Hindu American Seva Charities, recently brought together representatives from government agencies, nonprofit organizations and diverse faith leaders from across the country to discuss ways to enact sustainable community development through service.   Several Administration officials as well as the White House Office and Agency Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Centers participated in various panels at the conference, focusing on partnership development for community service. 

    The conference, entitled, “Energizing Dharmic Seva: Impacting Change in America and Abroad,”  focused on service, or “seva.”  The Hindu term “seva” refers to selfless service that is performed without any thought of reward or personal benefit.   Hindu American Seva Charities (HASC) is a nonprofit organization that aims to advance community service while promoting interfaith collaboration, pluralism, social justice, and sustainable civic engagement. 

  • Walking in Health with Parish Nurses

    Across the country, parish nurses are helping congregations walk in health towards a more active lifestyle.  Parish nurses, or Faith Community Nurses, are health experts who work within specific congregations to provide the tools, resources, and support necessary to make healthy decisions and stay active.  In their capacity as health counselors, advocates, educators, and providers of spiritual care, they are on the frontlines of congregational health, working with church members to address healing of the body, mind and spirit.

    Poised to guide parishioners toward more physical activity, parish nurses have responded to the First Lady’s Let’s Move! challenge to walk 3 million miles as part of her initiative to reverse the trend of childhood obesity within a generation. Parish nurses are leading energized, creative community walking programs across the country. The Rev. Dr. Deborah Patterson, Executive Director of the International Parish Nurse Resource Center says, “When a parish nurse is leading a walking program, the average number of miles walked per congregation increases dramatically!” 

  • 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)