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LEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity) was an innovative program for high school students developed by members of the Interfaith Alliance and a dedicated group of volunteers who have acted as founders, curriculum planners, teachers and workshop leaders since 2005. Students who attended LEADD became immersed in the history of the First Amendment, particularly its Establishment and Free Exercise Clauses. The First Amendment is  the foundation of America’s  unique devotion to religious liberty and the hope in and vision for creating a truly pluralistic American society. Students learned about current policy, legislative and legal issues regarding religious freedom. While the program was discontinued in 2012, we have posted the resources on this website to enable others to use them in their own youth interfaith programing. Interfaith Alliance Foundation continues to act as a resource and we offer our experience and advice to any who ask for it.

Some examples of  past LEADD programs:

2010 Weekend LEADD in Warwick, NY

From May 21-23, 2010 we held the rescheduled NYC area LEADD at the Warwick Conference center (Warwick, NY).   Eighteen students participated in the full program. As a part of our outreach and recruitment, our Coordinator, Denny Davidoff held numerous face to face meetings with representatives from: Interfaith Center of NY; Temple Israel-Manhattan; Hindu Temple Society of North America (Ganesh Temple-Queens); United Sikhs; Riverside Church(NY);  Unitarian Church of Westport(CT) Queens Council of Churches; Brick Presbyterian Church; St Ignatius Loyola; Marble Collegian Church- Presbyterian; St Peter's Lutheran; the Bronx Science High School Parent's organization; St Barts Episcopalian (NY); the Office of Armenian Prelate of NY; Temple of Understanding- Interfaith; the Jain community and the Al-Khoei Islamic Center and School.  The results were an extraordinarily diverse group of youngsters.

The program was, as are all the LEADD experiences, filled with curiosity, intelligence, energy and exuberance.  From morning until night our LEADDers taught and were taught about themselves and each other, our great democracy and the Constitution.  Below you will see the extraordinary schedule which can only, in a linear fashion, begin to describe the weekend.

Warwick, NY LEADD Schedule May 21-23, 2010

Friday, 5/21

2:00 – 3:00  Counselors (Tyler Kirk, Yasmeen Zaid, Sarah Albahadily, Rahil Rojiani)  met at the Community Church of New York

3:00 – 4:30 Students arrived. Brought necessary medical/allergy medications with instructions.

4:30 – 5:00 Bus departed New York City. Box supper distributed 6 pm.

7:00 – 7:30  Bus arrived from New York City. Students greeted and shown their rooms.

8:00 (earlier?) Welcome, staff and student introductions.

Welcome: What is this program about and how does it mesh with IA mission and work?

Introduction to the First Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Brief discussion about pluralism as Professor Diana Eck of Harvard defines it.

8:30 Break into four pre-assigned groups for discussion about faith practices.

9:30   Rules of Behavior, Community Gifts

10:15Corridor Conversations” with counselors.

11:15  Lights out

Saturday, May 30

8:30       Breakfast

9:00       Morning Circle

9:30 – 10:45  Curriculum Block I “Religious Liberty Now”  A Look at current issues

10:45 – 11:15     BREAK

11:15 – 12:30    Workshops

A)  “Striving for Cultural Pluralism”

B) “Communication & Conflict”

12:30       LUNCH

1:30 – 3:00  Curriculum Block II “Religious Liberty Then”  Students will break into six groups for 20 minutes of discussion and then report back. Group facilitators: Quakers , Baptists, Mormons, Ann Hutchinson, Thomas Jefferson, Samuel Adams.

3:00 – 3:45     BREAK

3:45 – 4:45  Supreme Court overview.

4:45 – 6:00  Supreme Court- Moot Court preparation.

6:00 – 7:00   DINNER

7:00 – 7:45   Vote With Your Feet (Outside if weather permits.)

8:00  Video – “West Bank Story”

8:30 – 9:30 “Here’s the situation. Respond in a skit”

9:30 – 10:15    “Encountering Other Religions”

10:30 “Corridor Conversations” with counselors

11:15       Lights out

Sunday, May 31

8:30  Breakfast

9:00 – 9:20   Morning Circle

9:30 – 10:45    Repeat Saturday workshops. (Go to the one you didn’t attend yesterday.)

10:45 – 11:15     BREAK

11:15 – 12:30   Moot Supreme Court Cases: Bruno v. Salazar and San Diego Cross Case

12:30  Lunch

1:15 – 2:00   Messaging and Advocacy. How will LEADDers use what they have learned here?

2:00 – 2:45  Closing Circle.

2:45  Evaluation of the weekend.

3:00 Bus departed for return to  New York City.

2009 Weekend LEADD in Oklahoma City, OK

OKC Group Shot Weekend LEADD in 2009 was held in Oklahoma City, OK at Oklahoma City University May 29-31st. We had 23 students from 16 different faith traditions.We began on Friday, May 29 at 4 pm and packed information and fun into the high-school-age kids until Sunday, May 31st  at 4 pm.  Dr Bruce Prescott Executive Director of Mainstream Oklahoma Baptists gave a powerful presentation and held a Q & A on the history of religious liberty in Europe and how it led our founders to the first amendment protections. Other presentations from Denny Davidoff, Jay Keller, former Deputy Dir of Policy Preet Singh and local youth director Sharon Fleck focused on religion today in the US, conflict resolution, messaging and mobilizing workshops, media coverage of religion and discussion hate crimes after the showing of the film A Dream in Doubt.

2008 Weekend LEADD in Tampa FL:

Tamp Group shotTwenty-one high school students from the Tampa Bay area enrolled in the first Weekend LEADD (Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity) held August 29-31, 2008. LEADD is an educational program of the Washington-based Interfaith Alliance Foundation. Its focus is on religious liberty and the disestablishment and free exercise clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The formal curriculum included history, immigration policy, current affairs, conflict resolution and advocacy. Equally important was the creation of safe space in which the students could freely discuss their diverse family backgrounds, faith practices, and nascent world views. Conversation was animated during meals and classroom breaks and late, late into the night. Many students reported that LEADD gave them the opportunity to participate in the dialogue of true pluralism – encountering and appreciating the other – for the first time in their lives.

The span of religious diversity at the Tampa Weekend LEADD included Catholic, Protestant, Hindu, Muslim, Evangelical, Unitarian Universalist, Wiccan and atheist students. Almost 40% were immigrants or the children of immigrants. Their parents included migrant farm workers, doctors, teachers and clergy. The counselors were equally diverse – from Mexican, Pakistani, Indian and African American communities.

EVERY GENERATION must become informed, engaged citizens. Leadership Education Advancing Democracy and Diversity — LEADD — does that by nurturing and empowering high school aged students to become America ’s next generation of leaders. Students will join engaged and aware young people from their area, representing a wide variety of faith traditions, for a weekend of leadership training, team building, and fun. Sponsored by the Interfaith Alliance Foundation, LEADD  teaches high school age students how to be knowledgeable and passionate advocates for religious liberty and the First Amendment.

necessary to be a leader in the fight to protect religious liberty. Among the sessions you will participate in are:

  • How to organize diverse communities
  • Creating effective messages
  • Networking
  • Strategic planning


• Religious liberty • Prayer in school
• Religion in elections • The separation of religion and politics

Participants will be under the supervision of trained counselors, staff, and faculty at all times.

To Apply or if you have questions send an email to This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

TUITION: Limited scholarship and transportation assistance is available. See application for details. The LEADD program  low cost is possible thanks to the generosity of our sponsors. To help support this and other educational programs, please contact the Interfaith Alliance Foundation at 202-466-0567 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it .

Donations to the Interfaith Alliance Foundation are fully tax-deductible.



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