Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

Partnering for Good

In March 2011,President Obama launched the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge. At its core is a simple, but powerful premise: When students from diverse religious backgrounds come together to serve their communities, they learn more about one another in the process. For example, Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and secular college students partnering together, across religious lines, on a Habitat for Humanity house building project; or students from a single-faith campus restocking a food bank with a local house of worship of a different faith. 

We are thrilled that over 270 schools from around the country met the Challenge by holding year-long service initiatives at their institutions. Yesterday and today, college students and representatives from schools across the country  convened at Howard University to recognize the great work that has taken place, share best practices and encourage schools to keep the good work going into the coming year.

Amazing work has taken place on campuses across the country, stories like:

  • At the United States Air Force Academy, the Interfaith Student Council – a group of Christian, Muslim and Jewish students – worked together with a local food bank to package food for more than 32,000 needy families.
  • Bucks County Community College in Pennsylvania enlisted diverse students from all three of its campuses (Newtown, Perkasie, and Bristol) to focus on poverty, diversity, and environmental issues with programs from pond and creek clean-ups, to a Habitat for Humanity house build.
  • Despite their historic rivalry, students from diverse religious backgrounds at Georgetown University and Syracuse University teamed up to raise over $2000 and gather over 1300 pounds of food to support the local food pantry AND announced their accomplishments at halftime of the two school’s NCAA basketball game!

Stories like these are being noted over a day and a half at Howard University, and Administration officials have joined the event. Last night, Arne Duncan, Secretary of the U.S. Department of Education expressed appreciation to the students and faculty for their commitment to service learning and fostering greater understanding across religious lines. Today the group heard from Cecilia Munoz, Director of the White House Domestic Policy Council, and I addressed attendees as well, encouraging them to keep the work going into the coming year.

You can learn more about the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge here.

The Challenge is staffed by the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, the Department of Education and the Corporation for National and Community Service. 

Joshua DuBois is the Director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships

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