Press Release for Monday, July 1, 2013

UNF Joins Obama’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge

Media Contact: Joanna Norris, Associate Director

Department of Public Relations

(904) 620-2102


The University of North Florida has answered President Barack Obama’s call to join the highly successful President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge for the second consecutive year. This is the third consecutive year for the White House initiative and all institutions of higher education have been invited to participate.


In May 2011, Obama first invited presidents of colleges and universities across the country to bring diverse religious groups together for a one-year commitment to interfaith cooperation and community service. Students and administrators were challenged to serve together on projects that strengthened their communities and united people of diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds.


“UNF’s participation in the President’s Challenge is an outstanding opportunity for the campus and community to engage in interfaith cooperation—to work together for the common good,” said Tarah Trueblood, director for the UNF Interfaith Center.


During that inaugural year, representatives from 240 community colleges, colleges, universities and theological schools across the country participated in the challenge. Participating schools are asked to focus their challenge efforts on one of the service initiatives included in the Kennedy Serve America Act.


 UNF’s challenge is coordinated by the UNF Interfaith Center, along with student leaders from various student clubs, including the Secular Student Alliance, Campus to City Wesley, Krishna Club, Jacksonville Christian Life and Better Together @ UNF. Students from very diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds coalesced to focus the 2013-14 President’s Challenge on the issue of human trafficking as a violation of human rights, since Florida is considered a hub for human trafficking in the United States.


The University will team up with Jacksonville’s nonprofit organization, Rethreaded, which reaches out to love people affected by the sex trade by fostering relationship and life-giving community. Rethreaded provides awareness events for the public and temporary employment for survivors of the sex industry. Employees create retail products by upcycling T-shirts donated by the public to the organization.


UNF’s challenge programs this fall include an “i-Dinner,” featuring free food and an introduction to the issues surrounding the human trafficking trade in Florida, a free documentary screening on the topic and a T-shirt drive for Rethreaded. Additionally, there will be community service opportunities at the Rethreaded warehouse in Jacksonville. UNF students will be taking leadership roles in all campus challenge events.


The UNF Interfaith Center’s mission is to engage the UNF campus around religious pluralism and provide distinctive programs for students to voice values, engage with others, act together and lead others to do likewise.


For more information on UNF’s participation in the President’s Challenge, visit or . For more information on the President’s Challenge, go to .


UNF, a nationally ranked university located on an environmentally beautiful campus, offers students who are dedicated to enriching the lives of others the opportunity to build their own futures through a well-rounded education.