Winner of the Dana McLean Greeley Award for young adult interfaith work

After carefully considering the 12 applications we received this year, each well-prepared and outlining a valuable project we would love to support, the Greeley Award Committee, tasked with this difficult duty, decided to award the project submitted by The Sanctuaries: Interfaith Arts Education.

This is how The Sanctuaries elaborate on their mission to ignite the sacred power of the arts for social change:

The Sanctuaries is the first interfaith arts community in the United States. Founded in Washington, DC, by a group of twenty young adults in 2013, we use the arts to transform two of the most divisive global issues of our time – race and religion – into forces for personal growth and social change. We fulfil this mission in two ways. First, through our multicultural community of over 150 artists, we deepen interfaith understanding by hosting regular events, retreats, and multimedia arts showcases. These programs are often the only structured opportunities in the city for young adults of different religious backgrounds to build lasting relationships of mutual care and support. Second, through our Art for Social Impact training program, we educate interfaith artists how to be leaders in their local communities. Participants in this highly selective program gain first-hand experience working on the front lines of grass-roots justice campaigns to address the systems that keep us divided in the first place.

What distinguishes our approach:
– It centers young adults. Too often, programs are created for young people, not by them. This project positions young adults as valuable teachers of this work for audiences of all ages. In the process, it builds trust and understanding across lines of social and generational division.
– It builds collective capacity. Too often, programs perpetuate dependency on an outside expert. This project equips teachers to share frameworks and skills that enable communities to move this work forward on their own. In the process, it builds long-term capacity, not clients.
– It scales by invitation. Too often, programs grow for numbers rather than for needs. This project relies on individuals and communities inviting teachers into their context to advance this work. In the process, it builds a replicable and respectful model of collaboration. As Dana McLean Greeley once exhorted: “Let us find something worthwhile to love, and something worthwhile to do, and give ourselves away, and we shall find ourselves again.” At the heart of our approach is this spirit of embodiment. This work is something that’s not just done, but lived.

You can learn more about the project and the organization on its website,, and its Facebook page,

Dr. Greeley

The Background of the Dana McLean Greeley Award

In 1969, Rev. Greeley [was] a pivotal force in giving the International Association for Religious Freedom (IARF) the name it still carries, and new, committed leadership from both Shinto and Buddhist traditions in Japan. He loved IARF’s heritage, and boldly moved it into its future. The Award was created by the IARF to respond to the intention of the Dana McLean Greeley Foundation for Peace and Justice to honor Rev. Greeley’s memory and life achievements for peace through the gift of a $50,000 endowment to the IARF, announced at a service and celebration held in Concord, MA, on November 5, 2006.

The Founding Purpose: The historical Mission of the Award has been to celebrate the achievements of young adults within a religious and/or interfaith community with a strong commitment to human rights, justice, and peace. The award supports an ongoing or new project of a group, featuring the collaborative engagement of young adults with their community, providing the group with material support. In turn, the group is committed to work with young adults, to develop leaders within the next generation, and to expand understanding of human rights, justice, and interfaith dialog within the context of religious freedom.

Goals of the Award: The primary goals of the award are to support organizations of young adults, and the communities within which they are engaged, to conduct programs of leadership development, human rights education, and engagement in understanding one another’s beliefs within the context of commitment to religious freedom.
The Award (or awards) will be presented at each IARF Congress, currently held at 4-year intervals. They will be celebrated and promoted at a special ceremony, and through publicity within and beyond the IARF.

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