FORT WAYNE, Ind. (ADAMS) -In celebration of its 25th anniversary, Islamic Relief USA (IRUSA), a nonprofit humanitarian and advocacy organization, has awarded a $25,000 “Silver Anniversary” grant to the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Purdue University Fort Wayne.
The grant will help set up a consortium that will explore creating programs focusing on the importance of citizenship and human rights. Future programs could include lectures, school courses, and teacher education programs.
“We first learned of the Islamic Relief USA grant through HIAS, the world’s oldest and only Jewish refugee organization. At a time of increasing polarization and toxicity around questions of citizenship and human rights, we are eager to help support and promote local interfaith work around refugees and immigrants already underway, especially in the Midwest,” said Steve Carr, Professor of Communication and Director of the Institute for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Purdue Fort Wayne. “The IRUSA grant represents just one way in which connections across faiths and national origins can help bring together diverse communities around our shared commitments and ideals to solve real problems, instead of allowing manufactured and amplified problems to polarize and fragment us in ways that will ultimately only serve narrower self-interests.”
Northeast Indiana, which includes Fort Wayne, is home to many communities that host refugees, including those from Sudan and Bosnia. In recent years, though, the institute has noticed an alarming increase of insensitive language being used to describe immigrants and other new residents. Thus, the institute saw a need to have informative and compassionate discussions to address this negative trend.
With the help of the grant, the institute’s proposed project includes:
An inaugural summit where scholars and members of the community discuss what citizenship and human rights mean to the Midwest;
Creation of a network of urban areas that presently host refugee and immigrant populations, enabling them to pool resources and share knowledge;
Providing stipends to help support future projects focusing on these subjects.
The “Silver Anniversary Community Bridge-Building” program is an initiative to bridge the differences that frequently divide communities—such as religion, race, or political opinion. The grant announcement generated 175 formal inquiries from organizations working in 36 states and the territory of Puerto Rico, demonstrating that people all across America are interested in finding common bonds and committing to a common mission for the sake of their communities.
“The tremendous response from grassroots, community-based and national organizations shows that people who on the surface have little in common can come together to make the world a better place—a place where there’s more unity, more sensitivity, and an endless amount of potential and promise,” said Anne Wilson, director of programs for IRUSA.