Fellowship Award Recognized Impact of Tapestry Project




Rev. Jerad Morey

Director of Strategic Relationships

Minnesota Council of Churches

(612) 230-3211  





Mankato, Minn – “The Innovation Laboratory fellowship will absolutely help Mankato to be a more equitable, financially healthy, and understanding community,” agreed Jaffer Mohamed, Team Coordinator, and Sophia Hoiseth. Community Engagement Coordinator for Minnesota Council of Churches Mankato Area Refugee Services.


As winners of the inaugural Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council’s Innovation Laboratory Fellowship, the two will represent their organization’s Tapestry Project in ongoing meetings with world-class researchers in an ongoing effort to connect refugees with resources for entrepreneurship and motivate existing business to engage with diverse groups in new ways.


From the Center for Inclusion and Belonging’s release:


“With the support of a distinguished group of faculty and mentors, these fellows will strengthen their ability to bridge differences through their community-based programs and activities. They will dive deeply into the evidence-base around group division and polarization, and learn how to deploy prejudice-reducing intergroup contact strategies that foster social connections between diverse groups of people.


The fellowship provides a $75,000 grant to each of the 12 selected organizations made possible by the generous support of the Walmart Foundation.


“’Given their placement and social capital in community, these fellows and their respective organizations have the potential to connect people via their favorite hobbies, pastimes and community-based activities and deepen cross-group connections,’ said Wendy Feliz, Director of the Center for Inclusion and Belonging at the American Immigration Council.”


The organization described Minnesota Council of Churches Mankato Area Refugee Services’ Tapestry Project as “providing life skills workshops on parenting, housing, health, safety, and entrepreneurship, as well as deepening connections between U.S. and foreign-born community members.”


“The Tapestry Project has won awards before, such as the International Association of Chiefs of Police Community Policing Award in 2013, but what makes this opportunity stand out is the ongoing engagement of evidence-based researchers helping us to apply proven theories to our on-the-ground work and the significant funding accompanied by the award,” said Habiba Rashid, Associate Director for Mankato Area Refugee Services. Sophia and Jaffar have already  participated in one session focused on contact theory with experts from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst.


Ben Walen, Director of MCC Refugee Services, said “This is national recognition not only of the successes Minnesota Council of Churches already has in helping Minnesota’s newest residents to thrive in new lives of freedom, hope and opportunity, but also a giant vote of confidence in our staff’s ability to learn, adapt and keep our positive momentum going.”


“In the Old Testament book of Leviticus God tells us to love foreigners in our land just as we love ourselves. This is a commandment we often fall short of following. Yet the relationships forged through MCC Mankato Area Refugee Services’ Tapestry Project have always helped the Mankato community to do the hard work of connection across differences. Ultimately, this fellowship helps Minnesotans to more closely follow God’s call to love,” said Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches.


About Minnesota Council of Churches

Representing 27 member judicatories and about 1,000,000 Christians, the Minnesota Council of Churches’ mission is to manifest unity in the church and to build the common good in the world. The Minnesota Council of Churches programs include Refugee Services, Truth & Reparations, MCC Respectful ConversationsTM , Interfaith Relationships and the Minnesota Church Center. www.mnchurches.org