Faith organizations, including mosques, churches and synagogues, are often considered anchor institutions in their communities.
Because of their close ties to communities and their needs, IUPUI has worked with several faith organizations for years, Rev. Richard Bray, IUPUI Office of Community Engagement Community Partnerships Manager, said.
Those organizations offer perspective, insight and credibility in their community support and engagement, and understand issues in communities in a way that the university cannot. Fostering relationships allows IUPUI to support communities in working toward the goals they desire most, Richard said.
In the past, those partnerships have included Community Conversations centered on community issues such as homicides, gun violence, and opioid addiction. An additional community partnership came from that work, between First Baptist Church North and David Craig, a professor from the IU School of Liberal Arts, focused on Indiana’s Medicaid expansion, the Healthy Indiana Plan.
In his discussions with faith leaders, Richard knows they are deeply engaged in other community issues, such as food insecurity, education, religious intolerance, immigration, and other social justice concerns. He is looking into how IUPUI can partner with the churches on those issues, he said.
The work to build those relationships takes time, and is a critical element of those partnerships. Before asking for help making connections, such as for research or creating a path to college admission, members of the university community must first build a level of trust with the faith organizations, Richard said.
Spending time in the community and meeting with faith leaders to discuss the topics that are important to them and how IUPUI can support their efforts is key to building relationships, he said.