Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • Together for Tomorrow

    We've been overwhelmed with the positive response to our Together for Tomorrow (TFT) initiative, which is advancing community partnerships to propel school improvement. TFT is being led by the U.S. Department of Education, working with the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Corporation for National and Community Service.

    Since we launched TFT at the end of February, we've had hundreds of people join us for local TFT Town Halls, where we spotlight examples of effective school-community partnerships and help catalyze new efforts. Community and faith organizations, schools, and others are embracing the vision of TFT: to celebrate and inspire community and family engagement in education; strengthen the capacity of low-performing schools to manage partnerships; and focus partnerships on the ABCs - Attendance, Behavior, Course performance, and College access.

  • An Open Letter to Fathers

    It's a great time to be a dad.

    I don't say that because this Sunday was Father's Day, though I'd be lying if I said I hadn't been looking forward to it. Being a dad is so important today because it's an opportunity to empower the next generation of men and women to conquer whatever challenges may face them. It's an opportunity to help shape their future.

    When fathers aren’t a part of their lives, kids are more likely to get involved in harmful and destructive activities like drug use and crime. On the other hand, giving children the paternal support they need helps them grow into confident, capable and healthy men and women.

    All children deserve solid father figures in their lives, but far too many don't have them. President Obama, whose own father was absent for much of his childhood, understands that. That's why he created the Fatherhood and Mentoring Initiative to celebrate fatherhood and create meaningful opportunities for fathers and children – and adult mentors and young mentees – to connect.

  • Community Health Centers: Expanding Access to Care in Underserved Areas

    The C.W. Williams Community Health Center in Charlotte, North Carolina was created in 1981 when local leaders Peggy Beckwith, founder of the local Sickle Cell Anemia Foundation; Dr. John Murphy, a local dentist; and Rowe "Jack" Motley, the first African-American county Commissioner, filled out an application to create a community health center.   Mr. Motley drove to Washington, D.C. to submit their application. Their application was accepted and the C.W. Williams Community Health Center was created.

    C.W. Williams Community Health Center

    C.W. Williams Executive Director Beverly Irby, Dr Everlyn Hall-Baker, Alexia Kelley, Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and Dr. Joann Parris. (Photo by Dwayne Gross)

    On May 3, 2012, Alexia Kelley, Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships visited the C.W. Williams Community Health Center. She shared the news that a total of $730 million was being awarded across the country to community health centers, and that C.W. Williams Center had been awarded $500,000 to create a dental clinic. Dentists are in short supply in North Carolina and ranks 47th in dentist-to-population ratio. The new funding will greatly expand access to care.

  • Helping to Provide a Healthy Start for Children

    Ten years ago, a federal report listed Memphis as the city with the highest rate of infant mortality in the country. In certain neighborhoods, the quantity of infant deaths paralleled infant death rates in Third World countries. Those statistics underscore the issue of health disparities in vulnerable and hard-to-reach communities in the Memphis community; however, that health crisis is also providing opportunities for innovative partnerships with faith, community, health, and government leaders in the state of Tennessee.

    One promising example is the First Ladies for Healthy Babies Network, which is an initiative through the Neighborhood Christian Center. Within the African American community, if the pastor of the church is male, his wife is often given the term “First Lady” as a gesture of honor and respect. Understanding the integral role that faith leaders play as trusted messengers in their communities, the First Ladies for Healthy Babies Network engages First Ladies and other female leaders in the congregation to mentor young women and to actively refer moms of children 0 – 3 to NCC’s early childhood and parent/caregiver program.

    Volunteers from Memphis’ Operation Smart Child

    Tennessee’s First Lady Mrs. Crissy Haslam and President/CEO of Neighborhood Christian Center Ephie Johnson pose with volunteers from Memphis’ Operation Smart Child Program.

    In 2009, NCC formally launched Operation Smart Child (OSC), an evidence based program designed in partnership with the Urban Child Institute, to improve brain and social skills development in children from conception to four.  The goal of this joint effort is to drive the behavioral change of caregivers of children 0-4 in targeted neighborhoods by educating them on early childhood brain development.  Translating the science of nurturing the brain in early childhood into usable touch points for parents and caregivers is a critical first step to prepare a child for a lifetime of learning. Along with the” First Ladies for Healthy Babies” mentoring component, FLHB is a direct support network for Memphis’ Operation Smart Child Program.

  • Children in the Rio Grande Valley Enjoy Summer Food and Fun

    Children Select Lunch Options

    Children select lunch options. (Photo from USDA)

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted from the USDA blog.

    As summer time begins, I think of children playing with their friends and having a great time as they enjoy their vacation from school.  I am also very aware that some children may go hungry during the summer months.  Fortunately for children in the Rio Grande Valley on June 1, Catholic Charities began their second year providing meals to children up to age 18 through USDA’s Summer Food Service Program.  Catholic Charities is now providing summer meals in Cameron, Hidalgo and Willacy counties in South Texas.

    Catholic Charities kicked-off the SFSP at the Basilica of Our Lady of San Juan Del Valle on May 24.  Attending the event were DeAdrian Maddox, USDA, Angela Olige, Texas Department of Agriculture assistant commissioner, Eddie Lucio Jr., Texas senator, Daniel E. Flores bishop of the Diocese of Brownsville, San Juanita Sanchez, San Juan mayor, and local community organizations.  During the kick-off, children from Idea Public School enjoyed a nutritious lunch and participated in various activities.

    In Bishop Flores’ remarks to the audience, it was clear that he was happy to continue supporting the efforts of the federal, state and local community as they work together to provide children healthy meals during the summer. Catholic Charities partnered with local communities to make feeding sites available in rural areas and colonias.

  • Healthy, Affordable Meals for Our Children This Summer

    Ed. Note: This is a cross-post from the U.S. Department of Agriculture blog.

    As final school bells ring and students across our nation start summer break, the last thing on a parent’s mind should be how they’re going to provide nutritious meals for a child.

    During the school year, USDA plays an integral role in being sure our children have enough to eat. Through the National School Lunch and Breakfast programs, USDA helps families by providing nutritious school meals to 32 million kids each day.

    But when school’s out for the summer, low-income families can have trouble providing food for their children.

    This is a serious concern. Proper nutrition is critical for a child’s ability to learn, grow, and be ready to achieve their dreams – and hunger is one of the most severe roadblocks to the learning process. Lack of nutrition during the summer months may set up a cycle for poor performance once school begins again and can make children more prone to illness and other health issues year-round.