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Executive Summary to 2012-2014 Impact Report
As an organization committed to interfaith and intercultural harmony and respect, we are happy to present to you this analysis of ING's impact in changing perceptions and attitudes about Muslims and their faith and about other religious groups. We aim to provide documented evidence that our approach succeeds in dispelling Islamophobia and other prejudices still prevalent in the United States.
We live in a world in the throes of dramatic transformations, and, as an organization committed to interfaith and intercultural harmony and respect, ING needs to keep pace. The period since our last impact report has been and continues to be transformative for ING in various ways; we are pleased to present not only an analysis of ING's impact over this period in changing perceptions about Muslims and their faith as well as educating about other religious groups, but also to report the new directions in which ING is moving and their resultant impact. As we did in our last report, we will provide documented evidence that our approach succeeds in reducing misconceptions and prejudices towards Muslims and their faith. We will also show how through use of the Internet ING is expanding its impact both quantitatively and qualitatively and meeting the needs of a global world with 21st-century tools.
In particular, we emphasize two new channels through which ING is promoting intercultural and interreligious understanding: 1) online curriculum packages providing the content of several ING presentations accompanied by discussion questions, classroom activities, and resource lists, available free of charge to educators in middle and high schools and in postsecondary institutions, which have already been downloaded by 85 teachers in 22 states, one US territory, and three Canadian provinces; and 2) multiple social media platforms through which ING reaches new constituencies, especially young people for whom the use of these media is second nature. (See pp.3-4 and 26-27.) Furthermore, ING is actively working towards expanding its reach still further through these technologies, among other initiatives through iPad apps for educators already under development.
ING also continues its traditional outreach through live, face-to-face presentations and webinars, providing education to diverse audiences utilizing trained speakers in both the Islamic Speakers Bureau (ISB) and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau (IFSB). The ISB provides individual speakers discussing various topics relating to Muslims and their faith to schools, colleges, community organizations, and other venues. The IFSB provides panels of speakers to similar venues, each panelist representing one of the five major world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. The IFSB also organizes interfaith service projects, bringing people of diverse cultures and religions together for service as well as conversation. In addition to its work through these two speakers’ bureaus, ING offers cultural diversity seminars to various professional groups, educating them on best practices in dealing with Muslim communities, employees, patients, and students. ING continues to encourage and support the development of affiliate organizations around the country which are modeled after ING's methodology and content. There are presently 23 ING affiliates in 21 states. In the past two years, six ING affiliates have begun the process of building Interfaith Speakers Bureaus in their areas to complement the local Islamic Speakers Bureaus already in operation. (Further information on ING and its programs is available in Appendix 1: ING Background.)
Locally in the San Francisco Bay Area between September 1, 2012, and June 15, 2014, ING reached a total audience of around 35,000 in about 700 audience groups. (See pp. 5-6.) Over the two-year period 2012-2014, ING has continued to administer surveys and evaluations of its educational outreach programs to measure its success in fulfilling its mission. Audience evaluations from presentations by the Islamic Speakers Bureau and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau document an increased understanding and more accurate picture of American Muslims and their faith as well as improved readiness for positive interfaith relationships. The change in attitudes documented by surveys before and after ISB presentations demonstrates ING’s effectiveness in making Muslims and their faith a better understood and accepted part of the American religious and cultural landscape. While over the past two years only 26.5% of student respondents reported a “high” level of knowledge of Islam before an ING presentation, after a presentation that figure increased dramatically to 63.5%. Responses to questions on six common stereotypes about Islam and Muslims show that this increased knowledge leads to changed attitudes. For instance, the percentage of respondents who see Islam as promoting peace increases from 55% to 72%. Similarly, the percentage recognizing that Muslims have long been part of America rises from 38% to 58%, while the number of respondents seeing Muslims as “Americans like myself” increases from 48% to 65%. On the other hand, the percentage believing that Muslims “see women as inferior” decreases from 17% to 6%. (See pp. 7-11.)
Audience evaluations also demonstrate the effectiveness of ING’s Interfaith Speakers Bureau. Over the past two academic years, over 90% of audience respondents rated interfaith panel presentations “Excellent” or “Good.” Only 6% rated them “Fair,” and fewer than 1% rated them as “Poor.” Open-ended audience comments also show the positive impact of ING’s interfaith presentations. (See pp. 12-14.)
Educators and other requesters also show satisfaction with the relevancy of ING content, both Islamic and interfaith. Over 93% of respondents rate ING content “Excellent” or “Good,” with a strong majority (65%) rating it “Excellent.” ING speakers likewise receive better than 90% ratings of “Excellent” or “Good” on all criteria, again with a strong majority (73%) rating them “Excellent.” Requester comments also register not only satisfaction with presentations but also striking evidence of their impact on audiences. (See pp. 15-25.)
ING has three major new initiatives planned for 2014-2015: 1) An iPad app for educators is under development; it will provide the content of ING’s content and curriculum in an interactive format that will both excite student interest and extend ING’s educational mission to areas where live ING speakers are not available. 2) ING will put its cultural diversity training for law enforcement agencies online. This training has been extremely successful in improving relations and increasing cooperation between law enforcement and Muslim communities, and it will now be available to agencies that cannot receive the training live. 3) ING is launching a youth program that will strengthen the identity of U.S. Muslim youth and equip them to answer questions about their faith and culture, providing not only tools to combat Islamophobia but also a source for Muslim youth to learn and teach about their religion. (See pp. 28.)
At a time when Islamophobia remains a major threat to the harmony and cohesiveness of American society, the work of ING continues to be critically important. Providing education about Islam and Muslims in the context of enhancing religious literacy among all faith practitioners is central to creating a pluralistic society. We hope that you will continue to support ING's important mission to educate Americans about Muslims and their faith, while promoting religious literacy, understanding, and mutual respect and building relationships among people of diverse cultures and religions.
Dr. Henry Millstein
Programs Manager and Analyst
Founder and Trustee
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