Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative Successful Summer Programs

This past June, the Interfaith Youth Leadership Initiative (IYLI) completed its third year of summer programming and its second Washington D.C. Advocacy trip for high school students. We held three IYLI programs: our Los Angeles program at the University of Southern California, our Long Beach program at California State University of Long Beach, and our Orange County program at Chapman University. Over one hundred and twenty participants from over twenty different faith persuasions contributed to our IYLI and Washington D.C. summer programs.

During our three IYLI programs, youth participants:

  • Built leadership skills by speaking publically and sharing their own tradition with others while respecting the traditions of their peers
  • Served 500 individuals on Skid Row at the Union Rescue Mission, served the Long Beach community by taking part in a beautification project at Hamilton Middle School, and served the Orange County community by packing 480 boxes of food at the OC Food Bank
  • Visited the Islamic Center of Southern California, Los Angeles Mormon Temple Visitors’ Center, Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple, Jain Center of Southern California, First Congregational Church of Long Beach, Guru Nanak Sikh Temple, Islamic Center of Orange County, and the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple.
  • Engaged with speakers who included Rev. Jim Burklo, the Associate Dean of Religious Life at the University of Southern California, Rev. Gary Bernard Williams of Faith United Methodist Church & Hamilton United Methodist Church, Rev. Peter Laarman, Coordinator of Justice Not Jails & former Executive Director of Progressive Christians Uniting, Shourouq Al-Fartoussi, Programs Coordinator at the Islamic Educational Center of Orange County & Board member on the Newport Irvine Mesa Interfaith Council, Rev. Nichelle Madrigal of the Shinnyo Buddhist Temple, Rev. Paige Eaves, Rabbi Frank Stern, Ahmed Younis, J.D. and Dr. Gail Stearns.

IYLI Los Angeles participants at the Higashi Honganji Buddhist Temple.

During our six-day Washington D.C. Advocacy trip through Close Up, youth participants:

  • Built leadership skills by participating in a mock congress session complete with speaker of the house, members of congress, lobbyists, etc. and observed the Senate and House of Representatives in action
  • Took part in international studies with Close Up representing Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand, and many other countries as they worked on foreign policy
  • Met with Representative Judy Chu, who represents the Pasadena/Arcadia area, representatives of Senators Barbara Boxer and Dianne Feinstein, the ONE campaign whose goal is to eradicate world poverty by 2030, the International Justice Mission, a Christian group who works with human trafficking around the world using legal and investigative means, and the Muslim Public Affairs Council, where we learned about the issues facing American Muslims today.
  • Visited the Vietnamese embassy for a talk from the ambassador of Vietnam, the White House, Supreme Court, Library of Congress, Smithsonian National Museum of American History, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, Air and Space Museum, the WWI, Korean, Vietnam, Lincoln, Jefferson, FDR, MLK, and the Iwo Jima Memorials.


We had an amazing time this summer with all of our participants. We are looking forward to doing it again next summer! Until then, visit for events we will be having throughout the year.

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