WASHINGTON, D.C. — A group of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees are finalists for the 2021 Samuel J. Heyman Service to America Medals (Sammies). Michelle Daniels, Charles D. Eldridge, Ryan E. Jones and the Foster Youth to Independence Team, created an innovative program offering housing assistance and social services to young people aging out of foster care to prevent them from becoming homeless and to provide an opportunity for self-sufficiency.
Daniels, Eldridge, Jones, and the Foster Youth to Independence Team are finalists in the “Management Excellence Category,” which recognizes a federal employee or team for a significant accomplishment that exemplifies efficient, effective, and results-oriented government. The Sammies is one of the most prestigious recognitions for federal service, commonly referred to as the “Oscars” of government service. Winners will be announced in fall 2021.
“We are excited to have HUD employees recognized for such a prestigious award, highlighting their tremendous work during such a challenging and extraordinary moment in our country’s history,” said Dominque Blom, HUD General Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public and Indian Housing. “Having affordable housing options for everyone, particularly our youth who are aging out of foster care, is essential and helps put them on the path to success. We wish Team HUD good luck and thank the Partnership for recognizing the achievements of our Foster Youth to Independence Program.”
“This program is so unique in that it was designed by foster youth themselves working with HUD staff to create an on-demand housing subsidy for youth aging out of foster care,” said Danielle Bastarache, Deputy Assistant Secretary for Public Housing and Voucher Programs. “The FYI program provides foster youth with housing security that is so critical for self-sufficiency and success in life.”
“For each of the unprecedented challenges we have faced in the last year, dedicated public servants have worked behind the scenes to move our country forward, heal our nation and strengthen our democracy,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service. “The 2021 Service to America Medals finalists have shown tremendous commitment to the public good, and they, like all public servants, deserve our support and recognition.”
Joining the Foster Youth to Independence Team as 2021 finalists, are a team that worked with technology companies to combat misinformation that threatened the integrity of the 2020 census; a team that successfully led federal assistance for the 2020-21 presidential transition in the midst of the pandemic; and a team that oversaw the landing of a rover on Mars, a successful U.S. flight to the International Space Station, and planning to put the first woman and first person of color on the Moon.
The finalists are also eligible for the Service to American Medals People’s Choice Award. Members of the public can vote online for the federal employees they believe have made the most significant contributions in public service. The People’s Choice winner will be announced in the summer.
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