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Inter-religious Cooperation in education and engagement on the environment

To start a grassroots movement on environmental and social justice based on religious and ethical perspectives.

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Explain your project idea in two sentences.

We want to scale our Interfaith Speakers Bureau program to major urban areas with a special focus on developing engagement on environmental justice while combating bigotry esp. Islamophobia.

What is your organization name? Explain your organization in one sentence.

Islamic Networks Group: an organization that counters bigotry thru education & interfaith engagement

Is this project idea new for you or your organization? If no, how much have you already executed on?

We have ten years of experience with the interfaith panels at the heart of this idea. Several aspects of this proposal are, however, new: Adding humanist speakers, new procedural manual for scaling, new content, call to action, interactive panel format, and new app that encourages and tracks action.

What is the problem you aim to solve with this idea? How would you define this problem as urgent and a priority in your target community?

We're trying to combat bigotry while calling people to action on the environment. Islamophobia, Anti-Semitism, Anti-Sikhism, Hinduphobia and other forms of bigotry are urgent priorities in our communities due to increasing polarization in the country around immigration and growing nativism.

What is the timeline for your project idea? What are the key steps for implementation in the next 1-3 years?

First 4-6 months of funding will be spent on developing content and procedures manuals including evaluation processes and new app Next 5-6 months of funding will be spent on publicity of new program, development of training webinar, and seed funding criteria 6-12 months will be spent on training organizations on program 13-24 months will be implementation of program and seed funding in several cities 16-24 months will elicit impact evaluations, modifications and tailoring based on loc

Describe the individual or team that will implement this idea (if a partnership, please explain breakdown of responsibility).

ING content team: Content managers and directors: Ameena Jandali, Henry Millstein ING content consultants: Dr. Andrew Kille, Jewish Community Relations Councils, Hindu American Foundation, Jian Hu Shifu ING program team: Kate Chance, Maha Elgenaidi, Tim Brauhn, ING interfaith speakers

What do you need the most support with in this project idea?

  • Financial Business Model

What is your primary goal over the next 6 weeks of Refinement?

  • Get exposure to design thinking and IDEO

How do you currently measure (or plan to measure) results for this project?

We currently use different types of evaluation assessments such as Before and After Surveys, Anecdotal Surveys, and Requestor Surveys on content relevancy and quality of presenters. Now that we're calling people to action, we will develop an app listing what an individual, house of worship, or community organization can do to impact climate change, and providing encouragement and an opportunity to register users’ actions. participation in the call to action, which they can post on social media.

How has your project proposal changed due to your user research during the Beneficiary Feedback Phase?

In several ways: We’re adding humanists on interfaith panels and including content that would appeal to non-religious folks. We’ve created a more interactive panel format. And we’re creating an app that tracks results and shares stories, which users can post on social media that will have a multiplier effect.

(Optional) What are some of your still unanswered questions or concerns about this idea?

We're very experienced in this work and eager to evaluate a call to action app after our panel presentations which has an impact on all our work if we end each of our talks, training seminars, and panels with calls to actions as we plan on doing on this idea. The idea is transformative for education and interfaith engagement.

During this Improve Phase, please use the space below to add any additional information to your proposal.

We're trying to combat bigotry while calling people to action on the environment. Islamophobia, anti-Semitism, anti-Sikhism, Hinduphobia, and other forms of bigotry are urgent priorities in our communities due to increasing polarization in the country around immigration and growing nativism. At the same time, the environmental crisis, and above all climate change, are becoming more urgent, especially given the Federal government’s current reluctance to engage with this issue, while many people, within and outside religious communities, are unaware of solutions to environmental problems or what they can personally do to affect climate change. The urgency of a program such as this is underscored by the facts that, on the one hand, the United States is the world’s largest producer of carbon pollution, while, on the other, the US has pulled out of the Paris Agreement on climate change. The moves made on the Federal level against dealing with climate change have provoked widespread resistance, as evidenced, for instance, by the decision of hundreds of mayors to pursue the reduction of carbon emissions demanded by the Paris Agreement despite the Federal government’s withdrawal. This program can be seen as part of or a supplement to that resistance, drawing on both religious and humanist values to promote positive action to protect the planet.

We want to expand our effective Interfaith Speakers Bureau program to major urban areas where we have interfaith partners through our Know Your Neighbor--Multifaith Encounters program, with a special focus on developing interfaith engagement on environmental justice issues and on combating Islamophobia and other forms of bigotry. We believe that faith communities can make vital contributions by injecting values into current debates on climate and the environment while at the same time promoting personal contact between people of different faiths that can dispel prejudice and build peace in society.

We have operated an Interfaith Speakers Bureau (IFSB) program in the San Francisco Bay Area since 2007. The IFSB trains speakers (mostly laity) of five major world religions (Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism) to speak in multi-faith panels on various topics concerning their religious identities. The content for IFSB presentations is developed in cooperation with recognized academic scholars of each tradition. The Bureau delivers panel presentations on a dozen different topics to an average of 100 groups a year, including schools, colleges, faith communities, community organizations, and other venues. IFSB panels have demonstrated success in changing audience attitudes toward religions and their adherents and in encouraging interfaith engagement. Audience evaluations of IFSB presentations often contain remarks indicating that the panel has changed a formerly negative view of a particular religious community in a positive direction—for instance, that the respondent now understands that Muslims generally do not support terrorism. Audiences also frequently remark on their surprise that people of different religions can come together in friendship rather than in conflict and argument. 

The Bureau in the San Francisco Bay Area currently has about 35 volunteer speakers from the 5 religions mentioned. Panel topics include religion and the environment, separation of church and state, religious pluralism, shared values among faiths, and living the faith (how people live out their religious traditions in the modern world). 

We propose to scale the program across the country where we have institutional partners by expanding the content of our environmental presentations, adding calls to action and providing training for regional implementation of the program all across the country.

Explain your idea

We will expand our content on environmental questions, addressing the intersectionality of bigotry and environmental justice and by adding a variety of topics including climate change, the value of natural areas, and the relationship of environmental issues to human health and welfare (with a particular emphasis on environmental justice), relating all this to the values held by religious and secular worldviews. We will also add a “call to action” component to each presentation, encouraging audiences to engage in individual or communal environmental action. We will introduce a new panel format. After the initial presentation by the panelists and, if time permits, some question and answer, we will have the audience split into small groups to share their reactions to the presentation and come up with ideas for individual and/or group actions in response. (The panelists and facilitator will have some ideas prepared to stimulate people’s thinking as needed.) The groups will then come together to present their ideas and commit to action. To encourage and track the fulfillment of calls to action, we will develop an app for IFSB audiences that will have a brief summary of the teachings of various religions and of humanism concerning environmental care, and an updatable checklist of various simple and practical environmental actions for youth, adult individuals, and houses of worship and community organizations. Users will be able to earn online certificates or awards for registering their performance of set numbers of actions on the app checklists. A house of worship or community organization, for instance, could earn a certificate as “environmentally friendly” that it could both publicize on social media (which will have its own multiplier effect) and use as encouragement for its members to pursue the same sorts of environmentally positive actions. We will work with existing interfaith organizations in other areas to build new IFSBs centered on building interfaith environmental action, starting with the partners (listed below) in our Know Your Neighbors--Multifaith Encounters program. To this end, we will prepare a kit that includes manuals on setting up an IFSB and training speakers, presentation content, and videos of IFSB panels. In the first year, we will work with 3 of our current 75 interfaith partners to build new IFSBs. In subsequent years, we will build with 5-10 partners each year as new IFSBs develop that can help expand the program.

Who Benefits?

Communities will benefit by being empowered to be more green and to initiate actions to improve their environment. Communities will also benefit by growth in interreligious understanding and engagement and the dispelling of prejudice and tension among groups. Adherents of minority religions will benefit from the countering of bigotry and the building of personal and organizational relationships among people of different faiths.

How is your idea unique?

ING’s approach to building interfaith understanding, engagement, and harmony is unique in that, while other organizations do excellent work in countering hate crimes, ING attacks the roots of these phenomena, the attitudes and beliefs that underlie them. It does this in two ways: first, by providing accurate and balanced education about religions and non-religious worldviews, and, second, by providing opportunities for face-to-face encounters between people of different religions (or no religion), which social science has shown to be the most effective way to counter prejudice. ING is also unique in having long experience in providing effective, academically sound content and speaker training. This project will also provide and model an interactive approach to connecting education and action, including through its app a method of encouraging and tracking fulfillment of calls to action by participants in IFSB events that will also have a multiplier effect that is scaleable.

Idea Proposal Stage

  • Full-scale roll-out: I have completed a pilot and analyzed the impact of that pilot on the users I am trying to reach with my idea. I am ready to expand the pilot significantly.

Tell us more about you

ING is an incorporated non-profit based in San Jose, CA with affiliates in 20 states and one Canadian province. Founded in 1993, our mission is to counter all forms of bigotry through education and interfaith engagement while working within the framework of the First Amendment’s protection of religious freedom and pluralism. We work though regional volunteers and affiliated organizations across the country who provide thousands of presentations, training seminars and workshops, and panel discussions annually in schools, colleges and universities, law enforcement agencies, corporations, healthcare facilities, and community organizations as part of cultural diversity curricula and programs. Reaching hundreds of groups and tens of thousands of individuals a year at the grassroots level, ING is building bridges among people of all backgrounds. Our national interfaith partners are 100 Days 100 Dinners, ACLU, American Ethical Union, Baptist Joint Committee, Becket Fund, Bridges of Faith Trialogue-Cincinnati, Council on American Islamic Relations – DC, Center for Inquiry, Euphrates Institute, Faith Matters Network, Global Immersion Project, Hindu American Foundation, Hindu American Seva Communities, Interfaith Alliance, Interfaith Arkansas, Interfaith Center of New York, Interfaith Council of Central Florida, Interfaith Forum of Greenville, Interfaith Ministries of Greater Houston, Interfaith Paths to Peace, Interfaith Youth Core, Islamic Center of Greater Cincinnati, Islamic Society of Greater Houston, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Alabama, Islamic Speakers Bureau of Arizona, Jewish collaborative of San Diego, Jewish Council for Public Affairs, Minnesota Interfaith Power and Light, Monmouth Center for World Religions, Multifaith Voices for Justice and Peace, Muslim Advocates, Muslim Community Center East Bay, National Council of Churches, National Sikh Campaign, Network of Spiritual Progressives, Religions for Peace USA, Religious Action Center for Reform Judaism, Sisterhood of Saalam- Shalom, Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign, Speakers Bureau of Nebraska, Spokane Interfaith Council, Stone Creek Zen Center, The Ethical Society, Tikkun Magazine, Unite Cloud, United Church of Christ, United Religions Initiative, Welcoming Gainesville. ING staff who will be involved with this project include Interfaith Coordinator Kate Chance, Communications Manager Tim Brauhn, Content Director Ameena Jandali, Content Manager Henry Millstein, and Executive Director Maha Elgenaidi. Bios of ING staff can be found at http://www.ing.org/ing-staff.

Expertise in sector

  • 7+ years

Organization Filing Status

  • Yes, we are a registered non-profit.

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Can you Please tell me how many challenges are there in which i can take part .i a not understanding in which competition i can take part and how ???Please answer

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