Each week, the White House opens its doors to community leaders from across the country to participate in a day-long briefing and dialogue. We were excited to welcome 150 leaders from the Catholic Charities USA network earlier this month as part of this Community Leaders Briefing series. Board members and senior staff of Catholic Charities agencies from across the country joined us to discuss innovative partnerships to best serve communities and reduce poverty.
During the morning session, senior officials shared the President’s priorities regarding economic opportunity and poverty alleviation. Melody Barnes, Assistant to the President and Director of the Domestic Policy Council, previewed Pathways to Opportunity– a new report released that day. Ms. Barnes welcomed Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) as a follow-up to her address at their recent Poverty Summit in Fort Worth, Texas in September. David Kamin, Special Assistant to the President for Economic Policy, gave an update on the economy and the economic recovery. And Brad Cooper engaged with the leaders about Joining Forces, the First Lady and Dr. Biden’s initiative to support military families and veterans. Rounding out a morning of other distinguished speakers, Chief of Staff Bill Daley facilitated a lively Q&A and discussion session.
In the afternoon, Agency staff and staff from Agency Centers for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships met in breakout sessions with the CCUSA leaders to focus on five specific issues: jobs and economic development, human services, housing, immigration and military families and veterans. In the Jobs session, the Department of Labor Faith-based Center shared information with participants on Job Clubsand employment and skills training grants, and the SBA Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnership Office shared information about the role faith-based and community nonprofits can play as microloan intermediaries. Felicia Escobar, White House Senior Policy Advisor on immigration, blogged about the breakout session she hosted on immigration.
Catholic Charities Agencies have long-standing partnerships with the federal government on challenges ranging from housing to disaster response to child welfare and more. Just as Catholic Charities heard from us about new partnership opportunities, so we learned more about the innovative work of Catholic Charities agencies on the ground, every day --for over 100 years.
Alexia Kelley is the Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.