Cohort of Courage2020-09-11T16:47:33+00:00

South Dakota Voices for Peace (SDVFP) is launching an education and action program called Cohort of Courage: Faith Leaders. We invite you to consider how you, lay-leaders in your faith community, and your denominational leaders might participate. Our goal in this 4-month program is to further equip Faith Leaders with knowledge, strategies, and colleagues across the state to peacefully counter bigotry toward communities of color—in particular immigrants, refugees, and Muslims. You will learn from people like you who are working in their own communities to counter racism and bigotry. We must not pause our efforts because of a pandemic.

SDVFP is a movements organization. Executive Director, Taneeza Islam, says, “It takes one person to have the courage to lead, but it takes communities to build a movement. We lead communities with courageous action to inspire others to act.”

Now is the time for courageous and informed leaders like you to act!

Deadline extended to Friday, September 18th, 2020 by midnight. For questions, please contact Naomi at or 605.610.9188.

Apply Now

Faith leaders include:

  • denominational leaders
  • clergy
  • and lay-leaders

in your faith community who are committed to leading peaceful action against the hate that has ignited across our country recently and that has been in the fabric of South Dakota for generations. Faith leaders need to lead the necessary healing and to change the fabric’s weave so we all can enjoy a more inclusive and vibrant South Dakota.

We are pleased to have SD ELCA Bishop Constanze Hagmaier and Faith in Public Life of South Dakota’s endorsement of this program.

Through our Cohort of Courage program, we will focus on

  • intercultural head and heart skills
  • knowledge about bigotry in South Dakota
  • faith-oriented appeals to your faith community
  • strategies to implement in your rural and urban communities
  • messaging and communication approaches

Best of all, you will connect with faith leaders across the state who share these concerns and want to ensure safety and opportunities for all South Dakota residents. We believe that together, we can humanize the conversation and change attitudes of our neighbors and decision-makers. We encourage several applicants from the same community to apply.

Cohort of Courage is a 4-month commitment (mid-September 2020 through mid-January 2021) that will include:

  • Weekly virtual group or individual meetings (60-90 minutes each week)
  • Training by experts in intercultural development, community organizing, and advocacy
  • Weekly homework (30-60 minutes)
  • Action plan
  • Final presentation of your learning and action
  • Optional: Be our guest (plus 1) to the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra’s concert Victory Songs, featuring the Lakota Music Project

Specific dates for weekly meetings will be determined by participant availability and then commitment.

Cost: $75 upon acceptance into the program that will be matched and returned to you upon your successful completion in January 2021 to help fund your movement!

Deadline extended to Friday, September 18th, 2020 by midnight. For questions, please contact Naomi at or 605.610.9188.

Apply Now

Expectations & Opportunities

Action & Impact

We expect you to take action in your faith-community and denomination during and after this experience through the education, networking, and support of this Cohort of Courage experience. How you do this and what it looks like will be for you to decide what is best in your context. We have no doubt that the impact will truly contribute to making South Dakota’s fabric rich, diverse, and inclusive.

Program Components

Cultural Competency Education and Development

Cohort participants will assess and understand their own barriers that keep them from building bridges across differences. They will gain insight for how to work with their communities based on a model of intercultural development. Each person will complete an intercultural competency assessment, participate in an individual consultation, and then develop a personal plan for ways to develop their own hearts and minds for building bridges across differences.

Faith Over Fear Training
Shoulder to Shoulder Campaign

Faith Over Fear training will be weekly meetings and homework to:

  • learn about Islamophobia
  • learn strategies to organize through virtual events
  • learn how to create messages that inform and invite others for conversation, learning, and bridge building

The Should to Shoulder Campaign partners with the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding, ReThink: Media for Security, Rights and Democracy, and OverZero to present research-based information for you to consider and apply. We will offer strategies for urban and rural settings from people who are actively building movements in their own communities.

Regional Networking & Support

During the program, we ask Cohort of Courage: Faith Leader participants to develop actions in their faith communities to counter the bigotry that is expressed and experienced. To support you in this effort, we will ask you to commit to participate in regional conversations with cohort members to brainstorm, strategize, and experience the support of others who are committed and determined to do this good work. The Cohort of Courage Program Director will organize and facilitate these conversations.

South Dakota Symphony Orchestra: Victory Songs & Lakota Music Project
Saturday, October 24, 2020
Washington Pavilion, Sioux Falls
Pre-Concert Cohort of Courage Reception & Lectures Start at 6pm

As an additional and optional learning experience, we invite you as our guest (plus 1) to enjoy an evening of music. Under the direction of Maestro Delta David Gier, experience the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the renowned Lakota Music Project. The Creekside Singers (Lakota drumming group), Bryan Akipa (cedar flutist), and Stephen Bryant (bass-baritone) are featured in this unique concert showcasing how music serves as a bridge for cultural understanding.

SDSO and Lakota Music Project present Victory Songs.

Physically-distanced seating is available.


Application, Acceptance & a Memo of Agreement

Commitment to participate in the Cohort of Courage Program is crucial. We know that as leaders, we have many responsibilities and commitments. We also know how important it is for cohort learning of this type to include people who will consistently participate. In addition, the granting organization is counting on all of us to be faithful to their investment.

All interested participants are required to submit an application. A committee will select participants from the pool of applicants. Invited participants will then sign a Memo of Agreement that commits them to the program. The $75 participant fee will be required at this time. Upon your successful completion of the program, SDVFP will double this fee and return it to you to help fund your movement!

Deadline extended to Friday, September 18th, 2020 by midnight. For questions, please contact Naomi at or 605.610.9188.

Apply Now

Partner Organizations

Organizing & Endorsing Partners

Funding Partners