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Colleges Sign Up For Obama's Interfaith Program

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By Adelle M. Banks
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON -- More than 250 colleges, universities and seminaries have submitted plans to the White House for yearlong interfaith service projects in response to a campaign launched by the Obama administration.

Joshua DuBois, director of the White House Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships, said officials had hoped for 100 participants.

"They don't have to agree about their different beliefs but we feel like they can agree on issues of service and strengthening our communities," he said Tuesday (Aug. 2). "And so many of them are responding and saying ... we want to take you up on this challenge."

Projects range from Adrian College, a United Methodist-related school in Michigan, which will combat sex trafficking, to Southern Utah University, a state-supported school, which will help hungry families.

The "campus challenge," which was launched in March, grew out of recommendations from advisers to DuBois' office who called for projects on more than 500 U.S. campuses by the end of 2012.

Eboo Patel, president of Interfaith Youth Core and one of those advisers, said he was pleased with the diversity of participants, including Cornell University, University of South Carolina, evangelical Bethel University in Minnesota and Hebrew College, a rabbinical school in Massachusetts.

"I really believe that this is an historic moment for the interfaith cooperation movement," he said Tuesday.

CORRECTION: In a previous version of this post, Bethel University was incorrectly identified as being in Michigan. The university is in Minnesota.

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