Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships Blog

  • Partnering to Help Faith Leaders Protect Houses of Worship

    Rev. David Myers speaks with faith leaders following a tornado in Illinois in 2013

    Rev. David Myers, Director of the Department of Homeland Security Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, speaks with faith leaders following a tornado in Illinois in 2013.

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the Federal Emergency Management Agency's blog. See the original post here.

    “What can I do to protect my house of worship against the next emergencies or disasters?”

    It’s a question that I’ve heard far too often and with increasing concern lately. Fortunately, over the past several years, faith leaders representing various traditions have been partnering with local first responders and emergency managers to increase the safety of their congregants by developing emergency operations plans.

    The DHS Center of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, one of 13 federal centers associated with the White House Office of Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships, has partnered with FEMA to launch a new web page support local efforts to protect houses of worship across the country.

  • Deal Gives Back

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of Agriculture's blog. See the original post here.

    Here at USDA, we believe in the power of community to make a difference. So when Alice Deal Middle School in Washington, DC, reached out to the USDA Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships to come visit for their annual day of service, we were eager to welcome over 100 seventh graders to our headquarters to talk about the importance of environmental awareness and conservation practices, their theme for this year. With seventy percent of the nation’s land under private ownership, the success of USDA’s partnership with landowners to clean the air we breathe, conserve and clean the water we drink, prevent soil erosion, and create and protect wildlife habitat will depend on developing a strong next generation of conservation leaders like the Alice Deal students. So too, will our ability to manage the public lands and waters, including our national forests and grasslands that we hold in trust for the American people.

    After a day with these bright young students, we’ve learned that we’re in pretty good hands.

  • Pro Bono Service: Harnessing Time and Talent for Social Good

    Yesterday, the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Department of Commerce’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships hosted leaders from the nonprofit, private sector, and faith-based communities for an event titled “Pro Bono Service: Harnessing Time and Talent for Social Good.” More than 60 organizations attended this first-of-its-kind convening to learn about resources and partnership opportunities for improving their communities.

    Pro bono service programs are an important collaboration between businesses and nonprofits. These partnerships give nonprofits access to specialized professional skills and experience to help them develop and implement sound business strategies, increase their capacity, and improve their organizational infrastructure. In fact, the value to nonprofits of skilled volunteer services can be 500 percent greater than the value of traditional volunteering. And needs abound — 92 percent of nonprofits say they don’t get enough pro bono support. In addition to helping meet this nonprofit capacity crisis, companies have also found that pro bono helps them add value to the company, its employees, and the community as a whole.

  • 3 Important Thoughts the President Shared on Poverty in America:

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Watch on YouTube

    Yesterday at Georgetown University, President Obama sat down with Harvard professor Robert Putnam and American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks to share his views on poverty in America and what we can do to ensure every American — no matter who they are, where they come from, or where they live — has access to the opportunities they deserve.

    The conversation, hosted by the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne, touched on economic solutions that can broaden opportunity, the political will to support initiatives that expand those opportunities, and the minority communities that are disproportionately impacted by the decision — or failure — to make those investments. The President also offered his candid and personal views on how growing up without a father shaped how he sees these issues today. 

    Check out the top three highlights from the conversation here: 

  • Taking Our Nation’s Daughters and Sons to Work

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the White House Blog. See the original post here.

    Watch on YouTube

    Each fourth Thursday of April, millions of children across the country participate in Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day. At the White House, we usually celebrate this day by inviting children of employees to join their parents at work for a series of educational activities. The long hours that often accompany being a White House employee can be very demanding on a family, so we like to take this opportunity to express our appreciation to the children of our staff for sharing their parents with us. 

    This year, the Office of Management and Administration is working with the White House Council on Women and Girls and My Brother’s Keeper Initiative to expand our event to provide work-based learning opportunities for youth from the local Washington, D.C., area. In collaboration with the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington and the D.C. Child and Family Services Agency, we’re inviting youth who are typically unable to participate in this day – including foster youth and youth who may be at higher risk of dropping out of school, or may not have a parent with a job that allows them to bring their children to work. 

    We’re also encouraging other employers to expand their Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day programs. Since 1993 when the Ms. Foundation for Women established Take Our Daughters to Work Day, and later expanded the event to include boys in 2003, the goal of this effort has always been to help all of our nation’s daughters and sons to achieve brighter futures. 

  • The Future of Religion and Diplomacy

    Ed. note: This is cross-posted on the U.S. Department of State's official blog. See the original post here.

    Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, Special Representative Shaun Casey, Special Envoy Ira Forman, and Special Representative Shaarik Zafar speak on a panel on the Future of Religion and Diplomacy.

    Secretary Kerry’s mantra “religion matters” has been repeated on several occasions recently. In a message to State Department diplomats in Washington and overseas, the Secretary said, “In every country, in every region of the world, and on nearly every issue central to U.S. foreign policy, religious institutions and actors are among the drivers of change.” This policy priority was also the theme at a March 3 event on the future of religion and diplomacy at the Newseum religious freedom center. Because of her long belief on the important role religion plays in foreign affairs, I invited former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright to be part of the discussion. She compellingly argued, “Religion is a powerful force whose impact depends entirely on what it inspires people to do. The challenge for policy-makers is to harness the unifying potential of faith, while containing its capacity to divide. That must be the ultimate goal and purpose of the efforts we are discussing today. To succeed, we will need to learn how to talk about religion in ways that do not offend the people we are trying to reach.”

    Joining Secretary Albright and me were Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik Zafar and Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat anti-Semitism Ira Forman who are also part of the Office for Religion and Global Affairs. These two colleagues and I abide by the principle of two-way engagement that listens first. In discussing some of the challenges our office faces, Special Representative Zafar noted, “We have to engage broadly with Muslim communities on climate, entrepreneurship, and a range of issues.” Yet, the fundamental question the former secretary and the special representative both raise is this: in a pluralism of religious beliefs that include the right to not believe, how does the United States engage these faith leaders?