WASHINGTON (RNS) The White House is hoping to recruit America’s college and seminary students in a nationwide interfaith service campaign that was launched Thursday (March 17).

In the next month, the Obama administration will solicit plans submitted by colleges, universities, seminaries and rabbinical schools for year-long community service projects such as food drives, house building or mentoring.

Administration officials would not say how many schools they hope will take the “campus challenge.” The proposal grew out of recommendations from advisers to the Office of Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships that called for projects on more than 500 U.S.
campuses by the end of 2012.

Joshua DuBois, director of the office, said he hopes “a substantial subset” of the nation’s schools will take part in the initiative, which will be promoted through letters to college presidents, conference calls and a website.

“As a Christian who became committed to the church while serving my community, I know that an act of service can unite people of all faiths or even no faith around a common purpose of helping those in need,” President Obama said in a White House video launching the program.

Schools are asked to select priorities such as healthy living or disaster preparedness and commit to cultivating interfaith cooperation as part of the project.

The White House has requested that commitments to sponsor service projects, which could be led by either student religious or secular campus groups during the 2011-12 academic year, be submitted by April 22.

– ADELLE M BANKS, Religion News Service

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