Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships staff from the U.S. Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) participated in the United Way Education Town Hall on March 31, 2011 in Washington, D.C. The event was held at Trinity University, and brought together students, teachers, nonprofit and business leaders, and education advocates, and representatives from government.
United Way Worldwide President and CEO Brian Gallagher announced United Way’s commitment to recruit one million readers, tutors and mentors to enhance the education and lives of young people.
CNCS CEO Patrick Corvington talked about how education is a central priority for national service. “More than half of our funding goes to education,” said Corvington. “We make it possible for great nonprofits across the country to support tutors and mentors and school volunteers that reach three million disadvantaged youth each year.”
The event moderator, CNN’s Soledad O’Brien, interviewed Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council Melody Barnes and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan. Duncan praised the United Way’s commitment saying that when community organizations and schools work together our young people from the toughest of backgrounds can do extraordinarily well.
Barnes highlighted the role that CNCS serves in helping to channel the energies and good intentions of everyday Americans into volunteer opportunities that support students and schools.
Talking about the importance of high-quality mentoring, Secretary Duncan said, “All of us need those adults in our lives who are going to help us uncover those gifts, uncover those talents, that we may not even know that exist within us. And for students that don’t have the support that we would like for them to have at home, this will change their lives forever.”
Duncan urged the United Way to join with the Department, states, and local school districts to focus the efforts of these one million new volunteers on helping to turn around the nation’s lowest performing schools. He emphasized that partnerships will help increase the rate of change for these schools and communities.
The Town Hall was broadcast live on the internet, and the full video is available here. The event underscored the mission and work of the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Education to promote student achievement by connecting schools and community based organizations, both secular and faith-based. We applaud the United Way’s commitment, and will continue working with them and other faith and community organizations to propel school improvement.
Let us know your thoughts, if you attended the event and whether you are helping in this commitment by clicking here. We want to hear your feedback.
Michael Robbins serves as the Senior Advisor for Nonprofit Partnerships, Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education.