Religious Diversity in America Today—Experts Gather to Discuss Current American Moment and Role of Philanthropic Response

Wednesday, January 31, 2018
Arlington, VA

The Council on Foundations, Interfaith Youth Core and the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation convened a national discussion aimed at sparking solutions for the fractured state of religious diversity in America today in Washington D.C.

The invitation-only symposium at the Religious Freedom Center of the Newseum Institute brings together more than 100 of the nation’s leading activists, foundations, and experts for a robust half-day discussion entitled “This American Moment: Bridging Religious Divides”. Against a backdrop of growing partisanship, polarization, and religious bigotry, the conversation is expected to surface important new thinking about the role philanthropy can play in fostering productive dialogue about religious divides in the United States and their impact on society. The symposium will be broadcast from the Newseum Institute website and can be accessed at

Vikki Spruill, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations said, “This country was founded on the principle of religious tolerance. Religion can serve as a powerful bridge to understanding Americans’ shared values. Philanthropy, through events like this one today, can play an essential leadership role in lifting up mutual ideals, valuing diversity, and celebrating the power of all faith communities to help those in need.”

Peter Laugharn, president and CEO of the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation said,“Conrad Hilton intended for his foundation to work to alleviate human suffering around the globe, regardless of race, religion or geography. He was a promoter of interfaith dialogue, and were he alive today, would likely be looking for bridges of understanding among those of all faiths.”

Eboo Patel, Founder and President of Interfaith Youth Core said, “America’s most inspiring moments - from colonial-era struggles for religious tolerance to the civil rights movement to helping those displaced by recent hurricanes - have been characterized by interfaith cooperation. In an era of rising religious bigotry, we hope this symposium inspires leaders in philanthropy to view interfaith cooperation as an essential quality of American democracy, and to invest in it the way they might invest in literacy, environmentalism or the arts.”

The day’s events will include keynote addresses from Eboo Patel of Interfaith Youth Core and New York Times columnist and best-selling author David Brooks.

Attendees will also hear a panel discussion on engaging the new face of religious diversity in this country with reflections from nationally-recognized faith leaders: Jennifer Bailey, Founder and President, Faith Matters Network; Ruth Messinger, Global Ambassador, American Jewish World Service; Rami Nashashibi, Executive Director, Inner-City Muslim Action Network; and Bob Roberts, Senior Pastor, Northwood Church, Keller, Texas.

Later, a distinguished group of foundation leaders will share insights into the philanthropic sector’s role in stimulating conversations around faith and diversity. Panelists will include Nancy Cable, President, The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, Hilary Pennington, Vice President, Ford Foundation, and Kashif Shaikh, Co-Founder and Executive Director, Pillars Fund.  


About the Council on Foundations

An active philanthropic network, the Council on Foundations (, founded in 1949, is a nonprofit leadership association of grantmaking foundations and corporations. It provides the opportunity, leadership, and tools needed by philanthropic organizations to expand, enhance and sustain their ability to advance the common good. With members from all foundation types and sizes, the Council empowers professionals in philanthropy to meet today’s toughest challenges and advances a culture of charitable giving in the U.S. and globally.

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation

The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help the world’s disadvantaged and vulnerable people. The Foundation currently conducts strategic initiatives in six priority areas: providing safe water, ending chronic homelessness, preventing substance use, helping children affected by HIV and AIDS, supporting transition age youth in foster care, and extending Conrad Hilton’s support for the work of Catholic Sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. In 2017, the Humanitarian Prize was awarded to icddr,b, an international health research institute dedicated to solving the most serious health issues facing low and middle-income countries. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.5 billion in grants, distributing $109 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2016. The Foundation’s current assets are approximately $2.6 billion. For more information, please visit

About the Interfaith Youth Core

Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a national non-profit organization working towards an America where people of different faiths, worldviews, and traditions can bridge differences and find common values to build a shared life together. To realize this vision, IFYC partners with American colleges and universities, helping students and educators to explore, experience, and engage issues of religious and worldview diversity and difference up-close. Active since 2002, IFYC works with students, staff, administrators, and faculty at over 450 U.S. colleges and universities along with a growing network of alumni who are advancing interfaith cooperation across various areas of American life. Learn more at