A workshop course developed at North Carolina Central University aimed at helping faith-based organizations be better prepared for disaster response has received certification from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security and is now being offered nationwide.
The course, “Mobilizing Faith-Based Community Organizations in Preparing for Disaster,” was created by NCCU’s Institute for Homeland Security and Workforce Development. It is an eight-hour workshop that brings together faith-based groups, emergency management and nongovernment organizations. This course promotes collaboration while strengthening community resiliency in an effort to improve community response to severe storms and other disasters. It has been presented in 10 cities around the country.
“Faith-based organizations delivered timely and vital services after Superstorm Sandy, offering proof once again of how important the faith community is to emergency management efforts,” said M. Chris Herring, executive director of the institute. “These organizations have personal, trusted relationships with local communities and a unique ability to reach millions of vulnerable Americans. This course is aimed at enhancing whole community planning before an event, so effectiveness can be maximized.”
In late 2012, Herring presented overviews of the course at a disaster management conference convened by the National Baptist Convention USA in Nashville, Tenn., and at the National State Administrative Agency Symposium at the Department of Homeland Security’s Center for Domestic Preparedness in Anniston, Ala., which was attended by more than 40 state and federal emergency management training administrators.
A second workshop course created at the institute has also received Homeland Security certification. Titled “Planning and Intervention for Gangs, Hate and Terrorist Groups in Rural Jails and Prisons,” the course focuses on providing management tools for rural jail and prison officials to identify and disseminate recruitment activities information on gangs, hate groups and terrorist groups. The eight-hour workshop has been delivered in nine cities throughout the United States, and the Institute has received requests from six more jurisdictions to offer the course in 2013. Both courses were developed with funding from Department of Homeland Security in collaboration with the Rural Domestic Preparedness Consortium.
The Institute for Homeland Security and Workforce Development is part of NCCU’s Department of Criminal Justice. It provides training to help communities prepare for emergencies and engages in research that improves the emergency preparedness levels of organizations throughout the world. Among its specialties is providing support and training to first responders in rural communities with limited resources. The institute has an additional mission of providing workforce reentry opportunities for military veterans, particularly in fields related to disaster management.