COVID-19 Faith in the Vaccine Ambassador Program
Meeting the Need
In response to the growing need for vaccine access in certain underserved populations, Hebrew College’s Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership and Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) have teamed up to pioneer a new COVID-19 Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors Program. IFYC is spearheading the project nationally, and Hebrew College is organizing the Greater Boston effort.
Rabbi Or Rose, Director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership at Hebrew College
We are honored to work with IFYC and local Boston partners to empower youth and young adults from diverse walks of life to engage in this sacred and urgent public health campaign.
The arrival of effective vaccines marks a transitional moment of hope in the COVID-19 crisis. However, two significant challenges emerged in the move from vaccine to vaccination, accessibility to and trust of the vaccine within certain subsets of the American population. While African American, Native American, and Latino/a/x communities are particularly ravaged by COVID-19, they also have less access to and in some cases are less likely to trust the vaccine. Politically and religiously conservative white communities, often evangelical, are also less likely to trust the vaccine. National research shows that individuals in all these groups are more likely to be connected to religious communities, which are vast sources of trust and social capital.
Interfaith leaders from religiously diverse institutions have a unique opportunity to promote vaccine trust and increase accessibility.
Student Ambassadors will begin the program by participating in a training designed and led by IFYC. They will then work with the Program Coordinator and Lead Organizer to plan and implement accessibility and trust-building projects in high need communities with which they are connected. Ideal student participants for the Ambassador program will have a personal connection to communities where vaccine hesitancy is high. Ambassadors will have the opportunity to develop their own plans to address hesitancy or access with the guidance of mentors.
“We are working with amazing community partners in the COVID-19 FIVSAP and every one of them has expressed enthusiasm around the idea of having teens participate in the work of equity, access and trust related to vaccinations. Many of partners that are already on the ground working to get shots into newly eligible young people’s arms realize that peer-to-peer interactions have the strongest potential for encouraging, supporting and generating trust and enthusiasm around vaccinations.” (Kimberly Bress, Program Coordinator)
Interfaith Youth Core (IFYC) is a national nonprofit that equips the next generation of citizens and professionals with the knowledge and skills needed for leadership in a religiously diverse world. Partnering with higher education institutions and corporations, IFYC is dedicated to making interfaith cooperation the norm and building Interfaith America in the 21st century.
Turn In. Reach Out. is a three-year old grassroots organization that has shown dedication and perseverance in its work at the intersection of healing and social justice. Our mission is to uplift the work of racial equity and social justice through increasing access to social and emotional health resources for BIPOC communities.
The We Got Us team seeks to empower our communities with accurate science information and public health resources by connecting Black community members and organizations with trusted Black healthcare professionals and students.
Kimberley Bress, program coordinator, is an artist organizer, community builder, radical inclusion specialist, deeply devoted Buddhist practitioner and soon to be ordained Zen Buddhist priest. With an M.Div. in Theology from Boston University and a B.S. in Cognitive Science from Vassar College, Kim brings an interdisciplinary background in science and theology with a strong focus on justice, equity and community building. With skills as a faith leader, a creative, a writer and a trailblazer, Kim has successfully implemented many projects that bring multiple faiths into conversation with one another towards healing and social justice. She trained for 8+ years as a Buddhist monastic and has extensive experience teaching meditation, designing and facilitating group dialogue, coaching, programming, and digital marketing. Her strengths include storytelling, organizing for community power, managing teams, collaboration, thoughtful attention to detail, and creative thinking. She is an energetic and empathetic community builder and spiritual mentor.
Kareem King – Lead Organizer is a sophomore at Harvard studying the History of Science and Global Health. He has a passion for issues of health equity and understanding how public policy impacts the health of marginalized communities. Currently, he serves as the Director of Community Engagement for We Got Us, a Boston-based grassroots collective of Black college students, health professionals, youth and community organizers working to provide access to COVID-19 education and resources in Black and Brown communities. In that role, he has been responsible for leading canvassing events in the community to bring COVID-19 education and resources right to people’s doorstep. He is excited to work with the community toidentify needs and create a space for marginalized groups in medicine.
Rabbi Or Rose is the founding director of the Miller Center for Interreligious Learning & Leadership of Hebrew College. In addition to his work at Hebrew College, Rabbi Rose has taught for the Bronfman Youth Fellowships, The Wexner Graduate Fellowship, Hebrew College’s Me’ah community education program, and in a variety of other academic, religious, and civic contexts throughout North America and in Israel.Rabbi Rose is the author or editor of various scholarly and popular works, including Rabbi Zalman Schachter-Shalomi: Essential Teachings (Orbis Books).
If you would like to support this vaccine ambassador program, please click the button below and choose “Miller Center” from the giving form drop-down menu. Thank you!
Kimberly Bress, Program Coordinator
Teenagers are deeply embedded in the world of social media and are drivers of much of the content there. Getting teenagers on board and organized to start distributing data, facts, encouragement, and information about the vaccine has a huge potential to correct some of the misinformation that is confusing people and leading to vaccine hesitancy through social media. We are honored and thrilled to be partnering together with a group of 35 visionary young people to make sizeable waves in vaccine access, trust, and equity within the greater Boston area and particularly in BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) communities.