As the son of a Methodist minister, Arthur Vining Davis held a deep respect and appreciation for the traditions that provide meaning and hope for many. Mr. Davis could see then what is equally true today: most Americans draw on religious convictions in ways that motivate their thoughts and action and inspire them to love and serve their fellow citizens.
As one of the most religiously diverse nations in human history, the United States faces the challenge of nurturing an increasingly religiously pluralistic society while also moderating religious tension. Achieving these twin goals requires Americans to embrace a deeper understanding and appreciation for religious traditions other than their own, and to cultivate opportunities for collaborations and friendships across religious divides.
Interfaith Leadership and Religious Literacy grants typically range from $100,000-$300,000, although the Foundations will entertain larger requests.
Digital media is now among the most important means for communicating information. Social media, digital video, podcasts, and similar vehicles can therefore play a critical role when it comes to improving religious literacy.
Grants in this focus area support production, distribution, and marketing of digital media products that are positioned to improve religious literacy for large audiences.
Featured Grant: Podcast Explores Power of Spiritual Experiences
New York Times bestselling author and leading podcast host, Kelly Corrigan, produced a ten-episode series to model how to have deep, meaningful conversations with others about spiritual topics. The series provides listeners with authentic examples of how to engage others who hold different beliefs from their own and leave those discussions with increased appreciation and understanding. For more information about this featured grant, please click here.
Americans are becoming increasingly polarized across various lines of difference. Social media, national news outlets, and the public square all show signs of deep disagreement that often escalates into animosity. How can we repair these divides and increase not only tolerance but respect for those with whom we differ?
We know that polarization is perpetuated when we surround ourselves with voices that align only with our points of view. But there are times and places in our lives where we are immersed in communities that are highly diverse, and the college campus often serves as just such an environment.
Today’s campuses host students and faculty who represent different ages, races, nationalities, political ideologies, and religious affiliations. As a result, the college years represent an ideal opportunity to encourage students to practice learning from and engaging with others who differ from them in these respects. In order to promote this kind of learning and engagement, the Arthur Vining Davis Foundations supports projects that bring students together across lines of religious difference in sustained and meaningful ways.
One of these initiatives specifically aims to bring college students from different campus faith communities together to learn about and from each other concerning areas where they agree and where they disagree.
In 2021 the Foundations provided financial support to the Fellowship of Catholic University Students (FOCUS) to promote engagement, dialogue, and fellowship with students from other campus faith communities. FOCUS hosts chapters on over 200 campuses in 41 states which support Catholic students in the spiritual and intellectual development.
Through a $150,000 grant, FOCUS will invite campus chapters to submit applications for up to $5,000 to co-host events (or series of events) with campus groups that represent different religious traditions, such as the Muslim Student Association, Hillel, the Buddhist Society, and Cru. Events eligible for funding can take many forms, such as service projects, reading groups, informal dinners, and even sports leagues. FOCUS expects to provide funding for activities on up to 50 campuses during the 2021-2022 year. All projects will be designed in such a way that they promise to help students of varying faiths encounter one another in ways that include ample time for socialization and meaningful conversation.
Through sustained discussion and productive personal engagement, FOCUS believes that students on campus will better understand others with whom they differ. Eileen Piper, Vice President at FOCUS explains, “Since they are recent college graduates and receive extensive training in interpersonal communication FOCUS campus staff are particularly skilled in fostering dialogue that can create authentic, lasting friendships. Relationships built on friendship and trust will be the foundation for a clear understanding of similarities and an honest discussion of differences. In this way, interfaith encounters can create communities of awareness that will have a ripple effect across campus and contribute to an atmosphere of peace on campus.”
Members of religious communities often turn to specific publications that are produced and consumed primarily by that community. These trusted sources have the potential to provide an accurate, realistic, and compelling understanding of other traditions to their readers.
Grants in this focus area support outlets, especially online and print magazines, to produce, distribute, and market text-based content that helps readers to better understand and appreciate religious communities outside of their own.
The CT Global initiative expands Christianity Today’s savvy, theologically informed journalism and commentary. Cultivated articles and translations help Christian readers better understand not only other Christians in other parts of the planet, but also people of other faiths such as Muslims, Buddhists, and Hindus. For more information about this featured grant, please click here.