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Impact Report 2020

LETTER FROM OUR EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

January 2020. We had big plans for our programming, partnerships — and of course, the grand opening of the Tri-Faith Center.

Then in March, the pandemic turned life upside down. We were not exempt. Our dedicated team pivoted from in-person gatherings and to virtual platforms. And we discovered a gift in the midst of difficult times: What first presented a challenge quickly turned into an incredible opportunity to expand our reach beyond Omaha, including hundreds of new people in our work.

In addition to transitioning to online programming, Tri-Faith Initiative also launched an Interfaith COVID Task Force and a Race and Religion Task Force. These groups are answering the changing needs of our community and developing action plans for meaningful change throughout Omaha.

In October, we virtually celebrated the grand opening of the Tri-Faith Center with a memorable online gathering. Through the generosity of all who made the “Beacon of Hope” capital campaign a success, this dream became a physical reality. Tri-Faith Initiative and our partner congregations have successfully built a first-of-its-kind interfaith commons. The only place of its kind in the world.

As much as we welcome the completion of this special place, it’s people who remain the heart of Tri-Faith. Our founding mission fulfilled, we’re now actively moving into the next phase of this exceptional calling. It’s all about relationships. Centering relationship-building in all we do can transform our community.

As we enter our next chapter, Tri-Faith focuses on expanding our work in scale and scope. Through the continued support of all who believe in this bold endeavor, we are cultivating more inclusive environments. We’re advancing interfaith relationships and understanding, reaching communities across the U.S. and globally with the tools to cultivate interfaith initiatives.

I hope you’ll continue to be a part of this urgent work with us.

With gratitude,

Wendy Goldberg

Executive Director
Tri-Faith Initiative

Executive Director

Program Director

Education Director

Data and Administrative Coordinator

Deputy Director

Communications Director

Community Engagement Coordinator

In 2020 we saw that Tri-Faith participants are:

People of Tri-Faith are warmer in attitude toward three religious groups — Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim — than the national average.

*Pew Research.

Engaged
1,541

households attended a Tri-Faith event.

House = 100 households

94.96% 

participants report positively to learning new things from Tri-Faith programs.

Increasingly knowledgeable about Jewish, Protestant, and Muslim traditions 56% report they are knowledgeable about Jewish, 68% about Protestant, 35% about Muslim.

Giving

In 2020, 604 households became Bridge Builder donors to Tri-Faith.

Connected

More than 78% know someone of ALL of the following identities: Jewish, Protestant, Catholic, Muslim, Atheist, and Spiritual but Not Religious.

*Based on 2020 Annual Impact Evaluation

Diverse

25 denominations and sects represented.

“It’s hopeful and uplifting to me that people from different perspectives can get together in brave spaces to share thoughts and ideas about different perspectives and different takes on life. It made me realize how much community means.”

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- Jean Gordon, Tri-Faith Supporter Tweet
OUR MISSION

Inspired by the faith of Jewish, Christian, and Muslim communities, we cultivate inclusive environments to advance interfaith relationships and understanding.

OUR Vision

Be a best practice model, resource, and trainer for successful interfaith relationships and understanding.

OUR VALUES

COURAGE

LIFELONG LEARNING

INCLUSION

RESILIENCY

EMPATHY

Courage

From the convictions of our faiths and worldviews: We are bold and forthright, even in uncertainty.

“Tri-Faith has put faith into practice. I appreciate how you have become advocates for the community, and support the community — in not just food insecurity, but also in helping prevent evictions, and helping people become more aware so they can help others throughout the community. The Interfaith COVID Task Force convened by Tri-Faith Initiative has come together to work, collaborate, and focus on those issues. I commend you all for that and look forward to continued work with Tri-Faith.”

Susan Aguilera-Robles, Office of Omaha Mayor Jean Stothert Tweet

Lifelong Learning​

Our growth mindset embraces new ideas, creative problem solving, and foresight. We are guided by today’s leading research and scholarship, and continuously assessing our performance and impact to maximize the good we do.

“Thank you to the Tri-Faith staff for the online program offerings. I really think having your programs available online has contributed to helping people feel like a part of the Tri-Faith Commons. Thank you as well to Bonnie for leading the garden, which has proven to be such a saving grace during COVID. I’ve learned so much, and the group has become friends. Every week, I would get so excited about what produce could be shared with the community.”

Marcia Blum, Countryside Community Church Tweet

Inclusion

We are an agent for change by celebrating and transcending differences, engaging all people without regard to faith or identity. People of all races, genders, sexualities, religions, ages, abilities, and socio-economic classes have the right to be respected and appreciated. That happens at Tri-Faith.

“I like to help, especially when I believe in something — and this is truly something that I believe in, like, one thousand percent. Through UNO, I am going to conduct a focus group with American Muslim Institute (AMI) congregants to assess the impact of Tri-Faith, to gauge the interactions, benefits, and outreach between Tri-Faith and AMI congregants. I have also been able to meet wonderful people who have become friends, working with them on events, the library, and the garden.”

Abdul Mackie, American Muslim Institute Tweet

Resiliency

We balance pragmatism and conviction. We recognize when we must adapt,
as well as when we must hold true to a difficult path.

“I think we’re lucky that we found out we can do this by Zoom, that we didn’t have to curtail this. We don’t have to curtail Temple. All the things that we’re doing through all of you, we can still do, and I think there’s probably a lot of towns and cities that haven’t had this wonderful thing.”

Empathy

We are committed to transforming lives by fostering empathy and understanding. When we cultivate empathy, it’s a deep, person-to-person connection that reaches across lines of difference. It’s feeling what another person feels.

“The Tri-Faith Center Grand Opening — especially the play — really got me thinking, both about the topic of the play, but also what theater art could look like during a pandemic, or other times when we have to remain separate. Theoretically, we could have a theater company spread across the world doing a play just like One More Chair. The other thing I have appreciated about Tri-Faith this year is all of the learning that I could share with my family — little tidbits that I’ve gotten from different speakers.”

Board of Directors

Executive Committee

Ali S. Khan, MD, MPH Chair
Rick MacInnes First Vice Chair
Andie Gordman Second Vice Chair
Karim Khayati Treasurer
Syed Mohiuddin, MD, DSC Secretary
Maryanne Stevens, RSM, PhD Immediate Past Chair
Rabbi A. Brian Stoller Clergy Representative
Wendy Goldberg Executive Director

 

Board Members

Bob Freeman
Lisa Lewis
Annette van de Kamp
Trisha Hoffman-Ahrens
Mary Fraser Meints
Mark Stursma
Dr. Hesham Basma
Imam Mohamed Jamal Daoudi
Farhan Khan
Rabbi Aryeh Azriel
Susan A. Buffett
Joe Gerstandt
Andy Holland
Deb McCollister
Nuzhat Mahmood
Martha “Mart” L. Sedky
Paul A. Williams, PhD

Year in Review

1. PIVOT TO VIRTUAL PROGRAMS & EVENTS​

When the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, Tri-Faith Initiative committed to isolating the virus, not people. In 2020, we hosted more than 50 online events that included thousands of people from across the nation in our work.

2. Completion of the Tri-Faith Center  and Commons

In August 2020, we completed construction of the Tri-Faith Center — and the Tri-Faith Commons as a whole.

At Beacon of Hope: Tri-Faith Center Virtual Grand Opening we honored the 14 years of partnerships, conversations, and collaborative work that brought us to this moment.

3. Capital Campaign Success

Thanks to a generous $500,000 gift from the parishioners of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska, Tri-Faith Initiative completed our capital campaign to open the Tri-Faith Center.

“Our folks are so proud of the part we played to help establish Tri-Faith, and in the way that its work is promoting peace and reconciliation. We wanted to find a way to help this amazing ministry cross the finish line.”

- The Right Reverend J. Scott Barker, Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Nebraska Tweet
4. Completion of our Original Mission to Co-Locate

Some said it couldn’t be done, but after 14 years, Tri-Faith Initiative completed our original mission to intentionally co-locate a synagogue, church, mosque, and interfaith center on the same commons.
Today, Tri-Faith Initiative’s new mission is cultivating inclusive environments to advance interfaith relationships and understanding.

5. Creation of Interfaith COVID Task Force

To meet the most timely and urgent needs of our community, Tri-Faith Initiative launched Omaha’s Interfaith COVID Task Force in spring 2020. The Task Force has worked with faith leaders to mitigate risk in their communities. It has also called for Governor Pete Ricketts to enact a statewide mask mandate in Nebraska.

6. Race and Religion Task Force

Tri-Faith also rose to the challenge of addressing racial injustice by launching the Race and Religion Task Force. This new group is preparing 
the Omaha community to have a meaningful discussion about reparations.

7. Naming Wendy Goldberg as Tri-Faith Executive Director

Founding board member and former Deputy Director Wendy Goldberg was selected to serve as Tri-Faith’s Executive Director in March 2020.

“Wendy brings proven leadership at non-profit organizations, deep ties to our community, and a passion for the role of faith in enriching our society. Wendy is a strong communicator with the talent to ensure Tri-Faith can successfully implement our ambitious new strategy to bridge from our unique purpose-built campus to a national and global audience with a message that celebrates the diversity and commonalities of our faiths.”

- Dr. Ali Khan, Tri-Faith Board Chair Tweet
8. Growth of the Tri-Faith Staff

The size of the Tri-Faith staff also doubled in 2020, adding Deputy Director Erik Servellon, Communications Director Sierra Salgado Pirigyi, and Database and Administrative Coordinator Lachelle Rankins to the team.

9. Growth of the Tri-Faith Garden and Orchard

The Tri-Faith Garden and Orchard Team worked hard to address food insecurity throughout Omaha in 2020, tending to our community garden and harvesting almost one ton of fresh produce for food pantries around the city. These include Countryside Community Church Community Cupboard, Intercultural Senior Center, Clair Memorial United Methodist Church food pantry, Benson Plant Rescue, and others.

By The Numbers

We finished the Beacon of Hope Capital Campaign for the construction of the Tri-Faith Center and Abraham's Bridge

Total raised $10,200,000

Thank You

An incredible thank you to our 25 board members, for their passion for this work. Many of them are founders, and they show up over and over.

Thank you to our clergy, who sustain us and remind us to stay grounded in our faith, and to move forward with love, grace, and mercy.

However, without the dedication of the Tri-Faith staff, we couldn’t move the mountains that
I believe we moved in 2020.

Individually, Erik is new to our team and has made an incredible contribution in leadership, and in facilities, operation, and outreach to the community. I am grateful. Sierra, she gets stuff done. It takes so many times for you all to see a message before you show up, and Sierra makes sure that you see the message two or three or four times in your inbox, and she communicates with the partner congregations to make sure that we are unifying our message, and that we are amplifying their messages. Sierra, you do beautiful work, and we’re excited to see your storytelling projects form.

Jeremy, I have called you a “walking encyclopedia.” The depth of knowledge that you have, and your passion for religion and inclusion, matters every day in our work. You are helping us to be our best selves, and I am grateful. Amanda truly has a love and passion for religion and community, for making the intersection between race and religion something that we learn from, to help us hear each other in brave and safe spaces. She is helping us create curriculum that I know will connect us all in the coming years in ways beyond our wildest imagination. Lachelle, our newest member, is helping to quantify what we are doing so we can report back to you and tell you that we are making a measurable difference in the world.

And I’m going to do something that I hope we will all do — I am going to thank myself, too, because I have spent countless hours and passion for 15 years for this project.

I am grateful to all of you for the trust that you put in me to be able to lead this initiative. My job is to do everything that I want to do, that the board has enabled me to do, and that no one else wants to do — and, you know what, even that part has been a pleasure and so much fun.”

– Wendy Goldberg, Executive Director

Awards

HGA received a 2020 AIA Minnesota Honor Award in Architectural Excellency for their

design of Countryside Community Church on the Tri-Faith Commons.

Olsson received a 2020 ACEC Nebraska Honor Award in Structural Systems for their
design of Abraham’s Bridge on the Tri-Faith Commons.

Tri-Faith Initiative received a 2020 Commercial Real Estate Summit Award for shining
a positive light on Omaha.

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