ING Impact Reports

Download a full copy of the 2014-2016 report here.
Download a full copy of the 2012-2014 report here.
Download a full copy of the 2009-2012 report here.

Executive Summary to 2014-2016 Impact Report

Over the past two years, and especially in recent months, ING’s work has become more urgent than ever. Terrorist attacks in Paris, San Bernardino, Brussels, Orlando, Nice, and elsewhere, the continuing atrocities of ISIS, and, perhaps most ominously of all for American Muslims, the willingness of some politicians to exploit and stir up anti-Muslim bigotry to score political points, have put the American Muslim community in the center of a major political firestorm and raised Islamophobia to new heights; to cite but one example that shows the danger posed to American Muslims and the whole reality of American religious pluralism, a recent poll shows that 55% of the U.S. public are in favor of banning Muslims from entering the U.S.

ING’s response to this situation is to push back, as we have always done, against anti-Muslim bigotry and to work for the interreligious and intercultural harmony our country and our world so greatly need today. We have naturally continued to pursue this goal through our presentations, but, as the 19th-century American poet James Russell Lowell said, “New occasions teach new duties,” and ING has been busy over the past several years in exploring new channels for our efforts to bring people of diverse cultures and faiths together for mutual education and engagement.

One of these new initiatives is the INGYouth Program, which fosters religious literacy and confidence in the Islamic identity of young people in today’s challenging environment. Another is our online curriculum, making the content of ING’s presentations available to educators who do not have the opportunity to bring an ING speaker into their classroom. This report will chart the progress of these programs, but it will also introduce a program launched this year, Multifaith Encounters, born out of a multifaith gathering organized by the White House in December, 2015.

As we did in our last report, we will provide documented evidence that our approach succeeds in reducing misconceptions and prejudices towards Muslims and their faith. We will also show how through the use of the Internet ING is expanding its impact both quantitatively and qualitatively and meeting the needs of a globalizing world with 21st-century tools. We have increased our presence in the digital world, an important venue for expanding our work and reach. We witnessed impressive growth in this area, with approximately 751,000 unique visitors viewing our website content (a 275% increase from the previous two-year period). Our Facebook page showed an incredible 400% increase in “likes” over last year (from 3,625 to 16,967). We have also increased our use of Twitter and other social media platforms.

ING has continued its traditional outreach through live, face-to-face presentations and webinars, providing education to diverse audiences utilizing trained speakers in both the Islamic Speakers Bureau (ISB) and the Interfaith Speakers Bureau (IFSB). The ISB provides individual speakers discussing various topics relating to Muslims and their faith to schools, colleges, community organizations, and other venues. The IFSB provides panels of speakers to similar venues, with each panelist representing one of the five major world religions: Buddhism, Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, and Judaism. The IFSB also organizes interfaith service projects, bringing people of diverse cultures and religions together for service as well as conversation. In addition to its work through these two speakers’ bureaus, ING offers cultural diversity seminars to various professional groups, educating them on best practices in dealing with Muslim communities, employees, patients, and students. Locally in the San Francisco Bay Area between September 1, 2014, and August 31, 2016, ING speakers addressed over 33,000 people in 642 presentations.

ING has also continued to encourage and support the development of affiliated chapters around the country that replicate ING’s methodology and content. ING presently has 19 affiliates in 16 states and one Canadian province. Over the past two years, they delivered over 1,000 presentations to various audiences that included an estimated 16,000 middle and high school students. During this period, ING has continued to administer surveys and evaluations of its educational outreach programs to measure how well it is fulfilling its mission. Audience evaluations from presentations by the Islamic Speakers Bureau in both the San Francisco Bay Area and affiliates and by the Interfaith Speakers Bureau in the Bay Area document an increased understanding and more accurate picture of American Muslims and their faith as well as improved readiness for positive interfaith relationships. The change in attitudes documented by surveys before and after ISB presentations demonstrates ING’s effectiveness in making Muslims and their faith a better understood and accepted part of the American religious and cultural landscape.

While over the past two years only 9% of student respondents reported a “high” level of knowledge of Islam before an ING presentation, after a presentation that figure increased dramatically to 40%. Responses to questions on six common stereotypes about Islam and Muslims show that this increased knowledge leads to changed attitudes. For instance, the percentage of respondents who see Islam as promoting terrorism falls by 60%, while the percentage seeing the religion as promoting violence falls by two-thirds. The percentage believing that Muslims “see women as inferior” decreases by more than half, from 20% to 9%. Audience evaluations also demonstrate the effectiveness of ING’s Interfaith Speakers Bureau. Over the past two academic years, over 94% of audience respondents rated interfaith panel presentations “Excellent” or “Good.” Only 5% rated them “Fair,” and less than 1% rated them as “Poor.” Open-ended audience comments also demonstrate the positive impact of ING’s interfaith presentations. Educators and other requesters also show satisfaction with the relevancy of ING content, both Islamic and interfaith. Over 93% of respondents rate ING content “Excellent” or “Good,” with a strong majority (68%) rating it “Excellent.” ING speakers likewise received better than 90% ratings of “Excellent” or “Good” on all criteria; 77% of respondents rated overall speaker effectiveness as “Excellent.” Requester comments also register not only satisfaction with presentations but also striking evidence of their impact on audiences.

In late 2014, ING launched a new initiative aimed at Muslim youth: the INGYouth program. This program aims to increase young American Muslims’ Islamic literacy to help educate them about their faith and respond to frequently asked questions about Islam, and to prevent extremism, which is often based on ignorance of authentic religious teachings; to build confidence in their Islamic identities based on a sound understanding of their faith; and to inspire action towards bridge-building between American Muslims and people of other or of no faith. In AY 2014-2016, ING convened ten INGYouth workshops in the Bay Area and around the country. Student participants have uniformly reported increased confidence in representing their faith and confronting harassment and bullying.

In 2016, ING initiated another new program, Multifaith Encounters, the grassroots outreach of the Know Your Neighbor Coalition founded at the White House in December 2015. Multifaith Encounters aims to bring people of diverse faiths together for learning and fellowship to break down walls of stereotyping and prejudice.

At a time when Islamophobia remains a major threat to the harmony and cohesiveness of American society, the work of ING continues to be critically important. Providing education about Islam and Muslims in the context of enhancing religious literacy among all faith practitioners is central to creating a pluralistic society. We hope that you will continue to support ING’s important mission to educate Americans about Muslims and their faith, while promoting religious literacy, understanding, and mutual respect, and building relationships among people of diverse cultures and religions.

Download a full copy of the 2014-2016 report here.
Download a full copy of the 2012-2014 report here.
Download a full copy of the 2009-2012 report here.

Dr. Henry Millstein
Content Manager and Programs Analyst

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