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Train the Next Generation of Interfaith Leaders

IFYC’s mission is to make interfaith cooperation a social norm, and we think that the college campus is a great place to do that. In the campus setting we are already seeing students from diverse backgrounds and worldviews engaging with one another across lines of difference.

Each year, IFYC selects a class of top notch student interfaith leaders who are setting examples of what good interfaith work can look like to serve as mentors, trainers, and community builders for their peers. In a variety of in-person and online spaces, coaches help their peers turn their knowledge into action and build relationships across lines of religious difference.

Coaches receive specialized training in interfaith leadership, and spend a full year working through a development plan with an IFYC staff member. Throughout the year, Coaches train at the Interfaith Leadership Institute, Regional Leadership Gatherings, and serve as leaders of leaders in our student network.

Characteristics of an IFYC Coach

  1. Construct their ethic or theology of interfaith cooperation. Coaches understand how their worldview calls them to interfaith work. Their ability to share how their values and experiences influence their beliefs is vital.
  2. Navigate relationships with care. Coaches have experience building relationships across religious and worldview differences. Bringing diverse groups of people to the table is crucial and navigating relationships is the foundation of that process.

  3. Utilize their strengths and the strengths of others. Coaches are actively aware of their strengths and limitations. As leaders, they create spaces where individuals work together to generate positive change.

  4. Take initiative. Coaches step up and see a project to completion. Assessing the needs of a campus is the first step, but creating and executing a plan to bring about that change is just as important.

  5. Accept failure as part of growth. Coaches recognize that failure is part of the journey and see the twists and turns in the road as experiences worth learning from.

  6. Lead with appreciative knowledge. Coaches understand more than just the basic tenets of various worldviews. They also seek to understand how beliefs are lived out, and then build programs that bring about appreciation for the similarities and differences across faiths, worldviews, and traditions.

  7. Approach decision making with consideration, respect, and compassion. Coaches are self-reflective problem solvers who understand the importance of bringing multiple voices to the table. Examining a challenge through multiple perspectives and seeking input from others is key when leading in diverse spaces.

  8. Train in both in-person and online spaces effectively. Coaches communicate their beliefs and opinions in a thoughtful and compassionate way. By training effectively, their peers feel empowered to become interfaith leaders on campus.

Requirements & Eligibility

Because coaches draw on real world experience from their time in the training room, applicants must have attended an Interfaith Leadership Institute or a Regional Leadership Gathering.

This year, the Coach Program lasts a full year from January 2020 through December 2020. Coaches must be active students in good standing for the full year and cannot be studying abroad in calendar year 2020*. Here are a few additional dates coaches need to be available to travel to Chicago (costs covered by IFYC):

  • January 23rd - 26th, 2020: Winter Coach Orientation
  • August 2nd-6th, 2020: Spring Coach Training
  • August 7th - 9th, 2020: Interfaith Leadership Institute

*With prior discussion, exceptions can be made for short study abroad programs happening in May-June 2020.

Apply for the Coach Program

Applications for the 2020 Coach class open on August 1st and will remain open until 11:59 on October 2nd, 2019.

If you have any questions regarding the Coach Program or applications, email students@ifyc.org.

Apply here

Do you know a student who would be excellent for IFYC's Coach Program? Click here to nominate them!

Meet This Year's Coach Class

Ilana Brandes-Krug

Jewish

Ilana (she/her) is a junior at Brown University studying history through the Swearer Center Engaged Scholars Program. Interfaith and social justice work are integral to her Jewish identity and practice. She is the co-founder and director of...

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Ilana (she/her) is a junior at Brown University studying history through the Swearer Center Engaged Scholars Program. Interfaith and social justice work are integral to her Jewish identity and practice. She is the co-founder and director of BRIJ (Building Relationships: Islam & Judaism), a Brown-based program that works with Partners in Peace, a collaboration between the Islamic and Jewish Community Day Schools of Rhode Island. Ilana and the BRIJ team design and lead workshops for Muslim and Jewish fifth graders whose humor, energy and insight deepen her commitment to interfaith work each week. She has also collaborated with other colleges to build interfaith connections as a fellow for the Boston Interfaith Leadership Initiative (BILI), the NYU Bronfman Center’s Interfaith Entrepreneur Fellowship (IEF) and the Avi Schaefer Fund. Ilana loves learning languages, writing, exploring nature and traveling with her sisters. She is inspired by each of the IFYC coaches this year and is thrilled to be part of the team! 

Tanner Crunelle

Western Buddhist, Humanist, Seeker

Tanner’s current home is at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is pursuing a dual degree in English and Women's and Gender Studies with a minor in Southern Studies. Academically, Tanner is interested in...

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Tanner’s current home is at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina, where he is pursuing a dual degree in English and Women's and Gender Studies with a minor in Southern Studies. Academically, Tanner is interested in interdisciplinary approaches to phenomena-based inquiry, a student of literature at the margins of social movements. His current plan is to pursue a PhD in queer theory and literature, with the eventual goal of becoming a professor--social justice and education are Tanner’s vocational callings. It is from a similar place that he comes to interfaith work as a means for articulating human interconnectedness. His queerness and spiritual curiosity is also what informs his position in interfaith spaces: perhaps as a humanist, or as a Western practitioner of Buddhism, or as a Seeker. When Tanner’s not writing or reading (or talking about them), he enjoys cooking, eating, practicing yoga, and traveling--all things that are great alone or with friends!

Savannah Martinez

Nonreligious

Savannah Martinez is a rising senior at Elizabethtown College. She studies social work along with minors in both Sociology and Interfaith Leadership Studies. In addition to her studies, she serves her campus as a Resident Assistant, Better...

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Savannah Martinez is a rising senior at Elizabethtown College. She studies social work along with minors in both Sociology and Interfaith Leadership Studies. In addition to her studies, she serves her campus as a Resident Assistant, Better Together president, and as a student assistant in the Chaplain’s Office. After attending the ILI as a participant in the foundations and advanced student tracks, Savannah is now a coach for Interfaith Youth Core. As a future social worker, Savannah plans on using her interfaith skills to promote positive dialogue and build brighter communities for all. In her free time, she enjoys good books and fluffy cats.

Mishal Shah

Muslim

Mishal was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country where she spent the first eighteen years of her life a part of the Muslim majority. Mishal’s currently in her last year at UW Madison pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in...

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Mishal was born and raised in Lahore, Pakistan, a predominantly Muslim country where she spent the first eighteen years of her life a part of the Muslim majority. Mishal’s currently in her last year at UW Madison pursuing a Bachelors of Arts in Economics and International Studies. This transition from being a part of the majority to now being one of the marginalized voices on UW’s campus encouraged her to take on interfaith dialogue as a means of activism. Coming to the United Sates, Mishal was aware that it is not the best time to be Muslim in America. She took it on as a challenge and a responsibility to inform those who are ignorant or indifferent that Muslims are more than stereotyped and simplified identities. Mishal strives to use interfaith and intersectional dialogue in hope to progress from coexisting to celebrating the plethora of identities by which we are surrounded. She plans on returning to Pakistan and starting her own non-profit to continue working in the realm of religious pluralism in her homeland, catering to the subjugated minorities who live there.

Hiba Siddiqi

Muslim

Hiba Siddiqi is a third-year student at the University of Houston, studying Political Science and Global Studies with a primary focus in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The child of activists, community leaders, and immigrants, Hiba was...

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Hiba Siddiqi is a third-year student at the University of Houston, studying Political Science and Global Studies with a primary focus in the Middle East and Northern Africa. The child of activists, community leaders, and immigrants, Hiba was raised with a profound cultural understanding of interfaith tolerance and dialogue. A childhood of service and intercultural communion in the realm of refugee aid, domestic violence, and human trafficking have groomed her for Interfaith work and have allowed her the grit and vulnerability to such endeavors. Hiba came into her own as an interfaith leader at a previous institution she attended where she was the president of the Muslim Student Association and an active member of her Interfaith Leadership Council. After regional gatherings, interfaith-centered service, work with Austin’s own interfaith organization and personally exploring the ways in which race, gender, and different social sub-contexts intersect with this work, she regards interfaith action as vital and indispensable in the world’s current state. Currently, Hiba is working to create a full-bodied and sustainable interfaith initiative at the second most diverse university in the nation that celebrates the city’s diversity and great capacity for dialogue and communion across lines of difference.

Isaac Simmons

United Methodist Mystic

Isaac Simmons is a junior Business Management and Religious Studies double major at Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL). Identifying as a Queer United Methodist Mystic, Isaac feels called to the lifelong fight for social justice and...

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Isaac Simmons is a junior Business Management and Religious Studies double major at Illinois Wesleyan University (Bloomington, IL). Identifying as a Queer United Methodist Mystic, Isaac feels called to the lifelong fight for social justice and inclusion of all people. For the past three years, Isaac has worked as a Multifaith Ambassador at Illinois Wesleyan University and in this role he has sat on numerous councils and committees as an advocate for interfaith inclusion and dialogue. He is ecstatic to join IFYC as a part of the Coach Program because he believes that the skills taught by IFYC are incredible tools that can be used to build a more peaceful tomorrow. It is Isaac's hope and dream to empower young people to work across lines of differences so that they may build a loving and authentic community unafraid of having difficult yet necessary conversations. 


Interfaith Leadership Institute

Join aspiring leaders from around the country at this three-day gathering where diverse students get the training and learn the skills to engage diverse faiths and worldviews and build the interfaith movement back on campus and beyond.

Regional Leadership Gatherings

Grow your leadership skills and network with other interfaith leaders in your region. This year, there are 14 gatherings happening on campuses across the country.