9/11 Unity Walk

Interfaith Youth Action Groups (IYAGs)

Giving youth the experience of working together, no matter their faith backgrounds, on a common service project they intentionally chose was the focus of our 18 month Interfaith Youth Action Group (IYAG) pilot program. The youth, all high school students, were trained as compassionate leaders and learned to work with their peers of different faiths to pursue social justice goals, using the framework of the Millenium Development Goals (MDGs). The initiative was co-sponsored by ML Resources and built on the work of the Tony Blair Faith Foundation.

The  results?

Youth learned about each others’ faiths and cultures and about their own as well. They also indicated they are more willing to work with people of other faiths in the future. They learned about social justice and the MDGs, specifically, and felt empowered that they could do something at the local level.  In sum, these youth became examples to their communities of what Interfaith Action can accomplish.

How  can  we  start  our  own  IYAG?

Based on this pilot, and inspired by the example of youth and their families in Maryland who organized their own IYAG called “Capital Area Interfaith Friends” as a result of their experience on the walk, 9/11 Unity Walk will support interested youth and their families to form their own IYAGs starting in 2012. More on Capital Area Interfaith Friends here! See CAIF’s youth-designed website.

Youth in IYAGs provide service such as cooking and serving dinners at homeless shelters and tutoring younger children at elementary schools. They also gain understanding about each other’s faiths, e.g. learning about Ramadan and attending an Iftar or learning about Lent and walking a church’s labyrinth. And they work with youth ministries of local congregations to run awareness raising events  such as a the inter-generational Hunger Banquet, where participants were served a meal and learned how poverty and hunger are related.

9/11 Unity Walk can help initially convene and subsequently coach these groups of 10-12 young people and connect them to service opportunities. Contact us if you think you might like to start an IYAG!

 More on the Pilot Program 2010-2011

Approximately 12 high school students were selected for the DC area IYAG.

The students designed year-long social justice initiatives in small groups of three to four.  Each group was assigned several of the United Nations’ Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) which form the foundation of their programs.

The youth found community service opportunities in each of the MDGs areas (e.g. Eliminating Hunger, Empowering Women) and worked with their peers and community to support organizations in DC and around the world through volunteer work and fundraising efforts. Read more on their blog!

The IYAG was started in 2010 as a partnership between ML Resources Social Vision and 9/11 Unity Walk. Social Vision is the venture philanthropy arm of ML Resources, LLC, a Washington, D.C.-based private investment firm. Social Vision provides seed funding and support for social entrepreneurs and innovative initiatives in their earliest stages.

IYAG built on previous efforts by the Tony Blair Faith Foundation’s Faiths Act Fellows.

Contact us if you would like to start an IYAG!





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