IFYC Opens Applications for the 2022 Interfaith Leadership Fund
February 21, 2022
We are excited to announce that the next round of the Interfaith Leadership Fund is now open. The Interfaith Leadership Fund supports IFYC alumni who are committed to growing as interfaith leaders by initiating projects in their community and engaging in opportunities to further develop their leadership skills. The awards are intended to fund supplies, resources, tools, books, food, equipment, workshops, or anything else that helps awardees be Interfaith Leaders, as well as compension for the time and energy an awardee gives to a project (up to 50% of the award).
All applicants must complete an online application by Tuesday, March 15, 2022.
Last year’s winners, including the 10 listed below, created a range of initiatives, from virtual cooking retreats and art exhibits to graphic design apprenticeships and racial equity workshops.
American Civic Life
American Civic Life
Sabriya hosted a faith and mental health cooking retreat in November, where participatnts focused on having faith-based conversations, discussed faith’s impacts on mental health, told stories and ate faith-based foods. Participants appreciated fellowshipping around faith over food and shared how they tap into their faith in times of struggle. Check it out on Youtube!
Allyson used her award to organize a virtual women’s half-day interfaith conference called, “Kindle and Connect: An Interfaith Gathering of Women Leaders.” More than 150 registered for this 4 1/2-hour event, which included a keynote speech by Diana L. Eck of the Pluralism Project at Harvard University, music from different faith traditions, affinity groups to allow participants to connect with others, workshops, and a closing multifaith panel with national leaders of different backgrounds.
Emma participated in a graphic design apprenticeship for community organizing through Social Movement Technologies. She attended 12 weekly sessions with designers from around the world and completed design projects related to specific campaigns, including several designs for an online interfaith gathering space. The opportunity challenged Emma to think about storytelling in current media culture. She learned how to pull out the most important message from a campaign and communicate it without losing meaning or flattening the message. Emma stated, “As an interfaith leader, sometimes we have to be able to make information in ‘bite-sized’ pieces for people to be able to easily consume and understand. This training solidified that skill and assisted me in growing my skills in other important design elements – such as accessibility!”
Sara applied for the Interfaith Leadership Fund to support her involvement and leadership in the G20 Youth Interfaith Forum and the G20 Interfaith Forum, held in Bologna, Italy, in September. Sara was the lead Program Facilitator and was also on the Organizing Team for the Interfaith Youth Forum. Sara and her team brought together 50 young professionals from 30 countries, representing 12 faith and secular traditions. Sara reported that convening in Bologna and organizing skill-building sessions and networking opportunities for young people in advance of the G20 Forum was an incredible experience. You can find the work Sara and her colleagues completed in the final report from YIF20 here.
Mohammed proposed and organized a virtual art exhibit entitled “Interfaith, Social Justice and Art” and a panel discussion in partnership with Interfaith Council at Virginia Tech. The exhibit supported the advancement of an inclusive environment and fostering interfaith and pluralism at Virginia Tech. Mohammed believes art is a powerful medium that can cross boundaries and transform communities, while challenging stereotypes. The exhibit highlighted stories, songs, discourses, and images displaying solidarity among people of various secular and religious backgrounds.
In accordance with the Racial Equity and Interfaith Cooperation Award, Aamir used his funding to purchase a Zoom membership, and to obtain a unique textbook describing scientific studies behind various herbs/natural remedies and their effects on the skin. Aamir used the insights from the textbook to recommend certain natural remedies to patients. He was amazed with how much of Ayurvedic (traditional Indian medicine) and Arab medicine was contained in these textbooks. As someone who is both Indian and Muslim, much of Aamir’s heritage is wrapped up in these two traditions. He met several patients with similar backgrounds, and he said it was inspiring to recommend simple products they had in their house such as turmeric (which helps reduce inflammation), ashwagandha (which helps improve natural sleep and reduce stress), and coconut oil (helps moisturize the skin). Patients were very glad to have their beliefs validated, and additionally, they did not have to spend excess amounts of money on other unnecessary medications. Aamir currently uses the Zoom membership to host large sessions with applicants applying to dermatology programs, and to provide them with mentoring on how to achieve their goals.
Janice conducted a focus group with religious leaders to understand how they talk with adolescents and others about sex in their communities. Janice found the focus groups deeply humbling, exciting, and thought provoking. She was in awe of how people generously shared their experiences with strangers. Janice has academic and community experience with sexual health, and she found it powerful to watch diverse leaders talk about their experience and how their geographic, religious, sexual identity changes the context of they interact with these issues.
Kalilah used her award to cover travel costs to the Take Action Conference in Orlando, Florida, where she participated as a panelist. The conference enabled Kalilah to do what she loves: work with the next generation of leaders while expanding on a new skill set (polished speaking at a professional level). This conference was Kalilah’s first time speaking to an unfamiliar audience about interfaith engagement. She absolutely loved it, and she reports that the students asked thoughtful questions about building bridges and community engagement. One student inspired a thoughtful discussion by asking, “How does one engage in interfaith work when you don’t even understand your own identity yet?” Kalilah said it was challenging and inspiring for to see how interfaith work is impacting people at the high school level.
Aurora and her project partner led a group of community members from the Caldwell/Boise, Idaho, in exploring the intersections of interfaith cooperation, religious and racial identity. They hosted a double book club. Half of the readers read “Trouble I’ve Seen” by Drew Hart, and the rest read “Radical Dharma” by the Rev. angel Kyodo williams, Lama Rod Owens, and Jasmine Syedullah. The group concluded with a reflection session and volunteer opportunity.
Iqra used her fund to work with approximately 50 people as a part of Tufts Health Plan, Unify — a dual population health plan dedicated to serving people suffering from substance abuse disorders and/or mental health issues. Iqra made five calls every week to try and engage these members and answer questions related to vaccine hesitancy. Iqra would also offer to help them find their nearest vaccination site and schedule appointments for vaccine doses.