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GVSU named finalist in presidential community service and interfaith challenge

Posted on September 18, 2015

Grand Valley State University has been named a top-five finalist in the fifth annual Presidential Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge among more than 500 campuses from 24 countries and six continents.

The challenge is part of the President's Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll. Selection to the Honor Roll is recognition from the highest levels of the federal government for commitment to service and civic engagement. Since 2008, Grand Valley has been nationally recognized for community service (including service-learning) through the Honor Roll.

The Interfaith and Community Service challenge invites higher education institutions to commit to a year of interfaith cooperation and community service programming on campus.

“Grand Valley has been committed to community service institutionally for a long time, and this recognition of interfaith community service shows that we’re diving headfirst into embracing a meaningful engagement with the diversity of our campus and community,” said Katie Gordon, Kaufman Interfaith Institute program manager.

This year’s challenge recognizes interfaith community service work completed during the 2013-14 academic year. Events and initiatives submitted by the Kaufman Interfaith Institute included Better Together Day, the Ravel/Unravel Video Campaign and a panel presentation hosted with Habitat for Humanity of Kent County on faith and sustainability.

Grand Valley was named a finalist for the Presidential Award for Interfaith Community Service during a special gathering September 10-11 at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The winner of the award will be announced later this fall.

The Kaufman Interfaith Institute is continuing its community service and engagement programming with the 2015 Year of Interfaith Service. Since the initiative began in 2014, various congregations and campuses around West Michigan have been participating in community service activities, including interfaith builds with Habitat for Humanity, volunteering at homeless shelters in Grand Rapids, donation drives for Goodwill Industries of West Michigan, park maintenance and cleanup with Friends of Grand Rapids Parks, and much more.

The institute also recently received a $50,000 grant from the Grand Rapids Community Foundation, which will support interfaith efforts on local college campuses by funding student interns who will sharpen their interfaith leadership skills. The grant will allow the institute to host its Triennial Jewish-Christian-Muslim Dialogue Conference, as well as Eboo Patel, founder of the Interfaith Youth Core, for a separate presentation. Both events will take place in October.

For more information, call the Kaufman Interfaith Institute at (616) 331-5702.