Faith Based & Neighborhood Partnerships


Guest Blog: Thank You Labor Secretary Solis



by: Brian Ray



  Last Saturday, 10/15/11, at our Crossroads Career Leaders Conference in Atlanta,  U.S. Labor Secretary Hilda Solis spoke to us by video message:



“I know you’re here today because taking care of one another is one of our most sacred national traditions. Thank  you for keeping that tradition alive. Thank you for giving back, for refusing to give up hope, and for lifting up your neighbors.”


View "Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis"


As our audience gave her message applause, I thought “Wow! Who would have thought that we would be in a ‘faith-based partnership’ with the U.S. Department of Labor?” On the other hand, why not? Our country has a serious employment crisis, and as the Secretary said, it is time for “all hands on deck.”





How did this happen?



Earlier this year, The White House established the Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships that forms and supports partnerships between government at all levels and nonprofit organizations, both secular and faith-based, to more effectively serve Americans in need. The White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships coordinates 13 Federal agency Centers for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Each Center forms partnerships between its agency and faith-based and neighborhood organizations to advance specific goals.



A couple of months ago, a friend of mine invited me to participate in an every other week phone conference with the Deputy Director of the the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Center for Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Hearing that he was planning a symposium in Cleveland, I introduced him to career ministry leaders in the area.



Later we began talking about a symposium in Atlanta, which led to Secretary Solis speaking where she met jobseekers and ministy leaders at one of our member churches, Cascade United Methodist Church. Thanks to CCN ministry leaders Valerie Jones who coordinated the event at Cascade, as well as serving as a panelist along with Katherine Simons from Roswell United Methodist Church and Marilyn Santiago from Ben Hill United Methodist Church.



A week later, Secretary Solis offered to prepare a video message for our annual leader conference, and of course, we sent her a thank-you note! (see below) Moreover, we thank God as He is at work in and through us to help everyone find jobs, careers and God’s calling.







What happens next?



That depends mostly on us as Crossroads Career Network. We have already had great experiences on local levels putting on job fairs with DOL career centers, as well as cross-referring jobseekers to one another.


May I recommend that you as a jobseeker, career explorer or ministry leader connect with the local CareerOneStop near you? See what they have to offer and also how you can help them. In the meantme, we have begun discussions with national and regional DOL representatives explore how we can partner.


As we seek the next right steps, may I encourage us to consider our values and our stewardship principles:


  • Be faithful stewards with whatever God gives
  • Don’t worry about what He does not give
  • Take every thought captive to Christ


As Secretary Solis said,


“We want to create more opportunities to work together on employment referrals, job fairs, online workshops and other activities. There is power in this synergy. The bottom line is that we’re stronger when we work together. President Obama and I are so grateful for your commitment. We look forward to working together in the months ahead to secure the future of our economy, our communities and our country.”



This blog was reposted from the Crossroads Career Network Blog:


Guest Blog: Job Clubs – Making a Difference in Atlanta

by Labor Secretary Hilda L. Solis

During my travels in Georgia this week I visited Atlanta’s Cascade United Methodist Church – the largest African-American United Methodist Church in the Southeast – where my department’s Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships was hosting a symposium about job clubs and career ministries.

Secretary Solis speaks about the Labor Department’s new faith-based project to connect with job clubs and ministries and facilitate partnerships between job clubs and the workforce investment system during a visit Wednesday to Cascade United Methodist Church in Atlanta.

I had the opportunity to meet with a small group of job seekers and workers who have been helped by some of the career ministries in the Atlanta area. I heard from a woman named Audrey who lost her job in the banking industry in June. Her initial reaction was that the sky was falling, but thanks to support from family, friends, and the career ministry at Cascade UMC she now has a positive approach to the job search process and is excited about the chance to transition into a new field.

I also heard from Charlie, a computer software engineer who was out of work for two years. As he put it, every plan he came up with to land a job fell apart until a friend dragged him kicking and screaming to the career ministry at Roswell UMC. The ministry offered him the opportunity to expand his professional network and it provided him with spiritual motivation that lifted his spirits. Best of all, Charlie recently landed a new job in software development.

Participants in a small group discussion get the opportunity to express their ideas directly to Secretary Solis on the needs of African-Americans to fully participate in the labor market.

These are just two examples of job seekers and workers who are being supported professionally, emotionally, and spiritually by job clubs throughout the Atlanta region and across the country. The symposium at Cascade UMC highlighted these stories and also explored how job clubs and career ministries are partnering with One Stop Career Centers, employers, and other organizations.

One of the symposium panels featured Greg Bright, a human resources executive with Waffle House. Greg has been working with some of the career ministries in Atlanta over the past years to fill jobs at all levels within his company. “We look for people we can not only hire, but most importantly retain,” explained Greg. “The job ministries with deep roots in the community help us do that.”

Greg shared that he has been very pleased with the individuals he has hired through the ministry at New Birth Baptist Church.

Another panel included leadership from the Georgia Department of Labor, the Atlanta Workforce Development Agency, and the U.S. Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration’s regional office in Atlanta. These officials shared valuable information about the workforce investment system, including grant programs, tax credits, and web-based tools and resources. And they discussed how they can partner with job clubs and ministries.

I was honored to address the symposium audience of more than 350 people that included faith and community leaders, workforce professionals, and job seekers and workers. As part of my presentation, I was proud to share President Obama’s proposal in the American Jobs Act that prohibits employers from discriminating against unemployed workers when hiring.

I also shared how the package of tax cuts and investments in the President’s plan, if passed by Congress, will help people like Audrey, Charlie, and all those served by career ministries.

I’d like to express my heartfelt thanks to Senior Pastor Marvin Anthony Moss and his colleagues for welcoming me and the Department of Labor into his wonderful church and to the job club members who shared their stories.

This blog was re-posted from the DOL blog:

Guest Blog: Brevard County Looks Ahead with “Faith in the Future”


(From left) At the Faith in the Future job clubs event in Rockledge, FL: Tracy Washington, a certified grief recovery expert; Rita Elkins of Performance Excellence Partners; Alexia Kelley, deputy director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships; Lisa Rice, president of Brevard Workforce; and Diana Miller, founder of Community Job Club in Northeast, OH.

Recently, I was honored to join faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida for the launch of “Faith in the Future” – a new initiative to better serve job seekers. Due to the transitions in the NASA Space Shuttle program based in Brevard, thousands of aerospace engineers are unemployed and looking for new opportunities.

Brevard Workforce, the local administrator of government workforce development funds, is collaborating with congregations and community groups to support and expand “Job Clubs”. A job club is a support group of unemployed individuals who meet on a regular basis to learn job search skills and techniques such as LinkedIn, expand professional networks, and receive emotional support.  The Department of Labor estimates that there are over 3,500 active Job Clubs hosted by congregations, public libraries, community colleges, nonprofit organizations and One Stop Career Centers.

The Administration awarded $15 million to Brevard Workforce to help re-employ aerospace workers dislocated as a result of the Space Shuttle retirement. A portion of these funds is helping to support the Job Clubs program that works in partnership with community and faith-based organizations. The Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the Department of Labor has been instrumental in supporting the community leaders of Brevard County in planning the Job Clubs through their own Job Club Initiative.

While in Brevard, I met with Ronald Caswell and William Bender, two distinguished aerospace engineers who are now partnering with Brevard Workforce.  Both Mr. Caswell and Mr. Bender spoke eloquently about their own experience, and offered excellent guidance to the participants regarding the essential features of effective job support initiatives.    


Aerospace Engineers Ronald Caswell and William Bender with Tracy Washington, a Job Loss and Transition Strategist, at “Faith in the Future” event which brought together faith and community leaders in Brevard County, Florida.

Men and women in Brevard County are just like those nationwide facing the challenges of a job search.   Because these meetings take place in congregations and community-settings, people feel comfortable and at ease helping offset the oftentimes isolating nature of a job search.

I would like to thank Brevard Workforce for their gracious invitation, and all of the faith and community leaders—including many employers—in Brevard who are sharing their time and talent through Job Clubs, employment ministries and other programs for job seekers.  Brevard County has been the technology center and launching pad for Space Shuttles that have expanded human knowledge for years. With their tenacity to expand employment opportunities, the citizens of Brevard County will continue to advance space exploration and reach new horizons for years to come.

Alexia Kelley is the Deputy Director and Senior Policy Advisor at the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships.

This blog was re-posted from the White House blog: