Kaufman Interfaith Leadership Scholars

Kaufman Interfaith Institute is excited to launch our second year of the Youth Interfaith Leadership Scholars Program! This year our focus will be on leadership development, deepening our learning of pluralism, and taking action in our communities. In the fall, we studied the intersection of social justice and interfaith cooperation using the book Stamped by Jason Reynolds and Ibram X. Kendi and the Interfaith Youth Core, We are Each Other’s curriculum. This conversation progressed into reflections of our own communities, where we see bias and where we need more interfaith understanding. The Interfaith Leadership Scholars recognized inequities in how underrepresented religions and cultures are taught about in their classes. The projects they create this year will address some of these disparities.

All students 8th-12th grade are welcome to participate in this free program. We meet every other Sunday, throughout the school year. More information for 2021/2022 will be posted soon.

“When we learned about the Trail of Tears, we learned about the Native American experience from the perspective of atrocities they experienced rather than the flourishing culture they represent.”

---Emlynn Merrill

Kaufman Scholars bowling event

Who Are the Kaufman Interfaith Leadership Scholars?

Teenagers from the greater Grand Rapids area who provide invaluable leadership, input and direction for the Kaufman Interfaith Institute while gaining greater cross-cultural and interfaith knowledge.

They are the future of interfaith in West Michigan!


Kaufman scholars group shot

Kaufman scholars working hard

What will they do?

The Scholars are working on two projects:

  • Addressing Eurocentrism across curriculum in general with a presentation and learning guide for teachers. 
  • Incorporating youth voices into World Religions/Histories curricula by recording youth reflections on how they practice and experience their tradition. 

Scholars hanging out

Scholars Gurdwara event

How Will They do it?

● Trainings- Implicit Bias, Influencer (Social Media), Strengths/Skills assessments, presentation skills, story-telling workshops

● Deepening Networks- Interactions with our community partners, service opportunities

● Lessons and best practices - provided by college professors and experts in their field.

Kaufman Scholars at work

Kaufman scholars in training

● Coaching and guidance - Geared toward exploring each scholars own passions and interests

● Influencing Kaufman Programs- In addition to personal growth the Leadership Scholars will serve as an advisory council to Kaufman Interfaith Institute and help to guide the Institute forward into the future.

Check out the community initiatives created by our first Scholars group!

Kaufman scholars go bowling

Scholars working on LEGO at a meeting

Scholar giving a presentation

Kaufman scholars working on a project together