The Impact of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Nov292016

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Commerce Partners with Small Business Administration for the Launch of Business Sunday in Houston, Texas

For the last eight years, the Department of Commerce has had a robust relationship with faith communities and non-profit organizations. This has taken place through the efforts of the Commerce Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships (CCFBNP) to work with communities.  This work has led to increased engagement of Commerce agencies, partnership with faith based and secular organizations and have allowed Commerce to engage communities around the United States.

As the director of the CCFBNP, I have worked along with the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships and fourteen Federal agencies, to connect secular and faith- based organizations with opportunities, resources and information. Specifically, the CCFBNP works to fulfill the mission of the Department of Commerce, which is to “promote job creation, economic growth, sustainable development, and improved standards of living for all Americans”. I want to use today, which has been called, “Faith and Community Day” to share the vital work of the CCFBNP.  Please read of just a few ways our office has worked here at Commerce:

Community Development Resource Toolkit:   In 2014, the Center created the Department of Commerce’s first-ever Community Development Resource Toolkit (CDRT). The goal of this important tool is to highlight how community-based organizations can utilize Commerce-specific resources to promote local economic development. The CDRT has been updated to include all twelve Commerce bureaus and continues to highlight the resources and information communities can use to access and understand the vast partnership opportunities with the Department of Commerce.

Business Sunday:  Business Sunday is an initiative born out of a collaboration between the Minority Business Development Agency (MBDA), BusinessUSA and the Small Business Administration (SBA).   Business Sunday is focused on providing current and aspiring business leaders from congregations and communities around the country with the federal resources they need to start or grow their companies.  The Business Sunday program was piloted in March 2014 at the 19th Street Baptist Church in Washington, DC.  Nearly three hundred (300) business owners, entrepreneurs and nonprofit leaders came together for the initial event, showcasing the strong interest in the program and leading to its expansion.  The Business Sunday program is a reflection of the Obama Administration's efforts to strengthen our economy by empowering people – business owners, entrepreneurs, community development organizations, faith-based groups and others – to effect positive change at the local level.

Bureau Engagement Highlight – Census Department: In 2010, the CCFBNP sought to assist and amplify the work of the Census Bureau. Using its experience of working with faith-based and community-based organizations, the CCFBNP made important contributions to the Census effort. Comments by former CCFBNP director Cedric Grant, capture the nature of the work done to amplify the Census Department message: “Community leaders, both faith-based and secular, know their communities intimately and service hard-to-count populations through their various programs…Meetings with these groups have led to the establishment of Interfaith Complete Count Committee Working Groups in targeted cities that performed below the national average in the 2000 Census.  These working groups are effective at reaching populations that are the hardest to sample because of social, cultural or other barriers.”

These are just a few examples of the work that the Department of Commerce Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships has engaged in over the last eight years.  I am proud of the accomplishments of past directors, such as Joshua Dickson and Cedric Grant, and the vital work this Center continues to do.   Looking back, I believe that partnership – relationship development and bringing people together – is a powerful tool for increasing opportunities for the American people.  I believe that our relationship with communities (faith based and secular), organizations and business make success possible.  When I think of the impact of the CCFBNP, I believe Secretary Pritzker best summarizes the importance of this work to the communities that have been assisted around the country:

“By linking community leaders and organizations with critical economic development programs, technical assistance and other resources, the Department of Commerce is working to achieve its mission of promoting job creation, economic growth, sustainable development and improved standards of living for all Americans by working in partnership with businesses, universities, communities and our nation’s workers.” Penny Pritzker, Secretary, Department of Commerce

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