A group of U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) employees on Thursday were awarded 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 the recipients of this year’s Management Excellence Medal. The team advocated for, developed, implemented and now run an innovative program that provides 18- to 24-year-olds aging out of foster care with rental assistance and other supportive services so they can work toward their educational and employment goals and reach self-sufficiency. The Foster Youth to Independence Initiative fills a longstanding gap in the social safety net. The Management Excellence Medal recognizes a significant accomplishment in efficient, effective and results-oriented government.
“It is with great pleasure that our department applauds the Foster Youth to Independence Team for their innovation, accomplishments and public service,” said HUD Secretary Marcia L. Fudge, in a statement. “Every young person deserves the opportunity to live with stability and hope—and the Foster Youth to Independence Team has done tremendous work to make that a reality for young people who are aging out of foster care by providing them with the support they need to succeed. I commend our colleagues, Michelle Daniels, Charles Eldridge, Ryan Jones and the entire team, for their dedication and hard work.”
The Sammies, commonly referred to as the “Oscars” of government service, is one of the most prestigious recognitions in federal service. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the creation of the Sammies program, which recognizes innovation and leadership in the federal government.
Joining the Foster Youth to Independence Team as 2021 Sammies honorees, are those who worked to include addressing racial disparities in the COVID-19 response, cracking down on the importation of goods made overseas by forced labor and establishing a process that has accelerated America’s digital revolution and brought billions of dollars to the U.S. Treasury.
“This year’s winners brilliantly showcase how exceptional public servants are leading the efforts to solve many of our nation’s greatest challenges,” said Max Stier, president and CEO of the Partnership for Public Service, in a statement. “It is no understatement to say that the 2021 Service to America Medal honorees have changed the world with their accomplishments, and the depth and breadth of their impact is immeasurable. We thank and celebrate them and all dedicated public servants.”
In addition to the in-person awards ceremony, a one-hour program honoring all of the 2021 honorees will air nationwide on Nov. 1 at 8 p.m. EDT on Bloomberg Television and Axios.com, and on the Partnership’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube pages. PBS World will air an encore presentation at 9 p.m. EDT on Nov. 2.