The Tampa Bay region of Florida is home to tens of thousands of Muslims of South Asian, Middle Eastern, Eastern European, Central Asian and North African heritage, and the population continues to grow steadily. Despite the region’s diversity, however, there is a lack of dialog and understanding between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities that leads to misunderstanding, intolerance, stereotyping and conflict.

Pathways to Understanding will bring together the expertise of the educational, news media and nonprofit communities to foster understanding of the immense diversity and depth of Muslim cultures around the world and to promote meaningful interactions between the Muslim and non-Muslim communities in Tampa Bay.

Pathways to Understanding will reach more than 500,000 Tampa Bay-area students, educators, parents and community members through print media, youth leadership conferences and a community forum.

The cornerstone of Pathways to Understanding will be an original educational publication produced by the Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education program. The publication will be published in the Tampa Bay Times and distributed to high school students throughout the six-county Tampa Bay region of Florida. The total print circulation will be more than 505,000, with a total readership of more than 900,000.

Pathways to Understanding will then build upon the print component with six one-day youth leadership conferences aimed at promoting dialogue and allowing students to experience meaningful cross-cultural interactions, serving to reduce stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination.

Youth conference attendees will then partner with additional students from Community Tampa Bay’s Facilitating the Leadership of Youth (FLY) program to produce a Community Forum, demonstrating lessons learned and showcasing inclusion for the broader community.

Pathways to Understanding is supported by the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art. The mission of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation is to improve the quality of people’s lives through grants supporting the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research and child well-being, and through preservation of the cultural and environmental legacy of Doris Duke’s properties. The mission of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art is to promote the study and understanding of Islamic arts and cultures.

The Pulitzer Prize-winning Tampa Bay Times is the largest daily newspaper in the southeastern United States. Locally owned and independent, the Times has long been celebrated for its outstanding and credible journalism, practiced with integrity in the public interest. The Times has been part of the Tampa Bay community for 130 years. The Tampa Bay Times Newspaper in Education program (NIE) serves educators, students and families by providing class sets of the Times plus award-winning original educational publications, teacher guides, lesson plans, educator workshops and many more resources, all at no cost to schools, teachers or students. NIE publications have won international, national and state recognition, including the World Association of Newspapers and News Publishers’ World Young Reader Prize in 2013 and 2014.]

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