Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • 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. 

  • Upholding Our Laws and Our Values

    There has been some talk lately about the Administration’s commitment to the separation of church and state.  President Obama strongly believes that while faith-based organizations play an integral role in providing social services, their interactions with government must be grounded in sound law and policy, and must respect the Constitution.  In the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, we embrace that foundational belief and work to implement it every day.

    The President’s commitment in this regard has been unwavering.  When he launched the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the White House noted:

    As the priorities of this Office are carried out, it will be done in a way that upholds the Constitution – by ensuring that both existing programs and new proposals are consistent with American laws and values. The separation of church and state is a principle President Obama supports firmly – not only because it protects our democracy, but also because it protects the plurality of America’s religious and civic life.

    The President and our Office put these words into action.  We established an Advisory Council on Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and charged a taskforce of church/state experts with addressing key issues related to faith-based partnerships with government.  The Council issued recommendations, which President Obama incorporated in a groundbreaking Executive Order.  These recommendations are now informing a working group of senior officials from across government that are implementing thePresident’s Executive Order.  Trainings are also being scheduled for federal agency staff on the principles included in the President’s Executive Order.

    The bottom line is this: while critical issues remain, President Obama and we in the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships are committed to ensuring that we lead with our values: of constitutional separation of church and state, respect for faith-based and secular service providers alike, and commitment to doing the most good for individuals and families in need. 

    Joshua DuBois serves as Special Assistant to President Obama and Executive Director of The White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

  • Virginia Ministry Uses Networks to Get People Back to Work

    Earlier this month, I joined some colleagues at the Department of Labor’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships on a visit to the Career Network Ministry (CNM) at McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia. The visit was made in conjunction with the Center’s efforts to identify job clubs across the country and connect them to one another and to the workforce investment system. CNM is one of the most successful and celebrated job clubs in the country, so there was much anticipation for our visit. 

    With an active roster of 1,300 members and an average of 75 to 100 participants per meeting, running the group’s Tuesday evening sessions is no easy feat. However, thanks to a corps of more than 150 dedicated volunteers, many of whom found their own jobs through CNM, the ministry has grown over the past three years to provide a variety of employment and support services. During the first part of the weekly meetings, job seekers engage in a range of small-group and one-on-one activities, including resume critique and interview training, consultations with human resources executives and other employer representatives, and prayer groups that offer faith and moral support. New members are given the CNM Handbook, a valuable resource that addresses topics such as marketing plans, traditional and non-traditional job search and networking techniques, and managing depression and disappointment while unemployed.

    Career Network Ministry Small group Sessions

    At the Career Network Ministry (CNM) hosted by McLean Bible Church in Northern Virginia, job seekers begin the Tuesday evening meetings in small-group sessions where they learn and discuss topics such as marketing oneself, interview skills, and professional networking. July 22, 2011. (by Ben Seigel)

    I was able to observe many of these various sessions, all of which are available and free to people from the broader community, not just congregation members. Following the smaller, break-out sessions, we participated in a gathering of the full group in attendance that evening, about 125 members. We heard "victory lap" speeches from members who had recently landed new jobs. Additionally, a guest speaker, social media guru Rob Mendez, shared tips and strategies for getting the most out of LinkedIn and other tools. Rob revealed some tricks of the trade for landing at the top of a search for job candidates on LinkedIn. Finally, DOL Center’s Deputy Director Ben Seigel shared remarkswith the group on the Center’s new project and praised CNM’s work. “This ministry is a testament to the power of community and volunteers to come together and help out your neighbors, and achieve real results in getting people back to work,” said Ben.

    Ben Seigel at Career Network Ministry

    Ben Seigel, deputy director of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Labor, addresses the full meeting of the Career Network Ministry at McLean Bible Church. July 22, 2011. (by Ben Seigel)

    During my visit, I was very impressed with the positive, go-getter attitude that the group exuded, as well as the variety of training it offered. The tremendous amount of support provided by CNM’s volunteers has also proved to be invaluable to its job seeking members. For that reason, I was not surprised to learn that despite the fact that CNM advertises only through word of mouth, the group continues to gain about 25 new members each week, evidence of its success and impact on its members.

    Visit DOL’s Job Clubs Community of Practice.

    Career Network Ministry Interviews

    Job seekers at CNM who matriculate through a series of seminar sessions have an opportunity to interview with business executives seeking new employees or discuss job seeking strategies one-on-one with human resources professionals. July 22, 2011. (by Ben Seigel)

    Cindy Huynh is a summer intern in the Office of the Secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor. She is a rising junior at Cornell University.