Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC)




United States

Grade Level of Students Participating

Undergraduate students

Number of Students Participating per Year

Approximately 4,000 students across approximately 350 colleges and universities

Year Organization Began


Relationship to the public education system

Interfaith Youth Core works with both public and private colleges. IFYC offers programming for “the full campus ecosystem, working with student leaders, faculty, staff, and whole institutions.”

Organization’s Vision and Mission

“IFYC’s vision is to make interfaith cooperation a social norm. Because higher education models social good and produces the human and intellectual capital for change, IFYC partners with institutions of higher learning to elevate the civic priority of interfaith cooperation.”

Brief Description of Program Activities

IFYC’s programs aim to develop college students and college campuses as leaders in interfaith cooperation and to “change the public discourse about religion from one of inevitable conflict to one of cooperation.” The organization’s work is guided by the understanding that “positive, meaningful relationships across differences” and “appreciative knowledge of other traditions” drive positive attitudes towards interfaith cooperation. Programs are designed to help students develop the vision, knowledge, and skills needed “to create the spaces, organize the social processes and craft the conversations such that people who orient around religion differently can have a common life together and in so doing build pluralism.”

IFYC holds interfaith leadership institutes for undergraduates from around the country and their faculty/staff advisors. IFYC also organizes Better Together, a network of interfaith student leaders who support one another in their work.

In addition, IFYC partners with whole institutions to help them develop their campus strategy for building interfaith cooperation and leadership on campus. IFYC also offers online professional development opportunities for faculty and administrators and works with faculty to develop the field of interfaith studies, including course offerings, certificate programs, and majors.

Program Content: Intrapersonal Competencies

IFYC focuses on four qualities of interfaith leadership: grit, craft, relatability, and leading with pluralism. Grit is important to IFYC because students who engage in interfaith work will likely encounter some views that they do not like, or even find offensive. They will need to be able to deal with these experiences.

Craft “refers to deep commitment to the work of interfaith leadership, to knowing the big and little things [one has] to do to achieve excellence, to continually honing your skills, and to appreciating both the process of building interfaith cooperation and the end goal of pluralism.”

Program Content: Interpersonal Competencies

Relatability is a quality of interfaith leadership because “to be an effective social change agent, people have to want to listen to you. And for that to happen, you have to make yourself relatable.”

Leading with pluralism means “choosing to highlight the inspiring things you have in common with another person or community,” particularly by paying attention to the “resonances between different traditions.”

Program Content: Cognitive Competencies

IFYC’s model helps students develop a “radar screen,” or an awareness and understanding of current religious diversity issues. Developing this radar screen entails:

1. Being attentive to the religious diversity that is present in one’s daily civic space 

2. Understanding “the religious energies of relevant current events

3. Keeping up with long-term trends in religion

4. Having appreciative knowledge of other traditions”

Program Content: Attitudes and Values

IFYC aims to strengthen commitment to religious pluralism defined as:

  • “Respect for people’s diverse religious and non-religious identities,
  • Mutually inspiring relationships between people of different backgrounds, and
  • Common action for the common good.”

Program Content: Pedagogy/Active Engagement of Students

IFYC is guided by a belief in the power of student leadership. Networking and collaboration among student leaders is a key element of their approach.

Additional Links of Note

This article by IFYC Founder and President Eboo Patel, Vice President of Institutional Engagement Katie Bringman Baxter, and Director of Academic and Curricular Initiatives Noah Silverman, published in the Winter 2015 edition of Liberal Education, a publication of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, discusses nine key practices that IFYC has identified for colleges’ and universities’ interfaith work:

Reference List

All of the information in this profile comes from the Interfaith Youth Core website, a phone interview with the director of marketing and communications in June 2016, and excerpts from the organization’s business plan shared by the director of marketing and communications in June 2016.

Prepared By

Anastasia Aguiar