In celebration of my birthday, please join me in supporting the Religious Leadership and Civic Engagement Project!
The Religious Leadership and Civic Engagement Project, housed at the Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service at New York University (NYU Wagner), aims to harness and nurture the power of religious leaders and their congregations and communities across the United States to rejuvenate America’s commitment to civil dialogue and civic and social betterment. Perhaps no time in many decades has an investment in mobilizing faith leaders and their communities been more critical and possible. The demographic shifts, the distribution of power in communities, and the cultural and political battles that are so divisive are all rupturing the common and shared enterprise of the United States. Serious intervention to heal the hemorrhaging and to bind us together has never been more needed. This project is led by Taub Professor David Elcott and Visiting Scholar Steve Gutow. Together with a diverse team of research fellows and nationally renowned faith leader advisors.
The project will utilize the teaching and research regarding dialogue and comity gained over the decades of our work as researchers, conveners, facilitators and thought leaders as well as the vast resources of the NYU Wagner School of Public Service to create bonds among faith leaders that will lead to civic action. The work will be done at the local community level, recognizing that America often resolves problems and concerns through action within its towns and cities and even rural areas more than it does through political battles on the state and federal level. Thus far we have partnered with the Interfaith San Antonio Alliance (ISAA) and the Greater Indianapolis Multifaith Alliance (GIMA).
The program will focus on four parts:  Relationship building that leads to respect and a desire to do good expressed well in the Quranic verse: ‘So compete with each other in doing good.’  Choosing a local community issue or a cause for which there is consensus that change is needed and viable;  Going through the strategic planning necessary to make the change or at least improve the problem and then making the plan actually happen; and finally  Ensuring durable and sustainable group cohesion and commitment to then address other issues, serving as a collective force for good and change in the community. Our experience tells us that there is no ‘One Size Fits All’ description for any stage and each community will, like the artists they are and with the supports we have to offer, create their own unique possibilities for constructive change in their community.
I sincerely hope you join me in this effort - thank you!