One America - FAITHS Initiative

Program: FAITHS Initiative, San Francisco, CA
Contact(s): Dwayne S. Marsh, Program Director: (415) 733-8500
Purpose: To promote dialogue and action among congregations to strengthen the economic, racial and civic fabric of local neighborhoods

Background Program Operations Outcomes


Since November 1993, leaders of congregations and interfaith organizations from the San Francisco Bay Area have been meeting to encourage faith-based organizations to develop interethnic relationships within their communities and to build social interaction among congregations and promote civic participation. Recognizing the potential impact of collective action from the faith sector, the San Francisco Foundation worked with these groups to develop a faith-based action plan for the Bay Area, the FAITHS Initiative. The initiative includes more than 345 congregations, religious organizations and nonprofit allies.

Program Operations

The FAITHS Initiative uses the creativity and resourcefulness of the religious community to extend the outreach efforts of the San Francisco Foundation beyond the traditional nonprofit partners. Some of the primary activities of the initiative are the community forums and its work with the media to increase coverage of race issues. FAITHS has also convened a subset of the faith community to exchange their best practices for improving race relations and receive training on effective community relations strategies. The initiative's Race and Community Relations Planning Team develops activities for the group, meeting on a quarterly basis for briefings and updates. The team initiated the FAITHS Initiative's first forum, "Race, Class and Culture: Making Community Work in November 1996 and Beyond," to bring together the community's religious leaders to deal with election issues.

Outcomes and Significant Accomplishments

The 1996 forum brought together more than 270 clergy representing more than 10,000 families. An evaluation of the forum found that 90% of participants wanted more such community events. The FAITHS Initiative's mini-grants, ranging from $500 to $5,000, have also served as a catalyst to initiate large-scale projects and specific community economic development training and technical assistance efforts for 70 congregations in the Bay Area.

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