Faith in the Vaccine Ambassador Project

“The Faith In The Vaccine program was by far one of the best ways I was able to be involved in the Providence community. Not only did I do research to combat vaccine hesitancy, but I also had the ability to go to multiple vaccination sites and help get shots in people’s arms. I met incredible people who do these clinics nearly every week, all to help keep our community safe. As a brother of Beta Omega Chi, I have been committed to assisting Providence through acts of brotherly kindness and charity. This program was a great way to accomplish that goal.”

- Jared J., Brown University FIVA 2021

The Faith in the Vaccine Ambassadors Program (FIVA) was a project founded by the Interfaith Youth Core, a national nonprofit organization based in Chicago that seeks to make interfaith cooperation a vital part of the college experience.  This project focused on recruiting student leaders from numerous colleges and universities around the country who are interested in using interfaith cooperation skills to strengthen the vaccination effort and save lives.  Our Brown cohort consisted of 20 students (18 undergraduates, and 2 medical students).  The undergraduates had a wide range of academic interests and majors, as well as diverse religious and non-religious backgrounds and affiliations. The students were led and supervised by University staff (2 advisors), working primarily in pairs and other subgroups to develop their own plans to address vaccine hesitancy or access to vaccines. This project ran from June 2021 through December 2021, with an expected weekly commitment of about 4-6 hours. The students received a stipend of $1500 for their work. 

The students created and participated in various types of projects to combat vaccine hesitancy in certain sectors of Rhode Island. Our students:

  • Conducted public surveys to ascertain people’s views on the Covid-19 vaccines. 
  • Wrote age an appropriate curriculum for middle schoolers and gave public presentations to them and their families at local public libraries.  
  • Engaged in community canvassing campaigns where they address the specific questions and issues that people had about the Covid-19 vaccines. 
  • Spent time assisting various local organizations with their vaccination clinics throughout the states.  

We worked with organizations such Rhode Island Responds, WTL Health Clinic, other local religious and civic institutions, and the Pawtucket Public Health and Equity vaccination programs.  

My experience as a Faith in the Vaccine Ambassador has taught me the importance of supporting organizations that have strong existing relationships with the community.  While the Brown IFYC group planned to set up our own vaccination programs early on, we realized that we lacked strong relationships with underserved communities in Rhode Island, and decided to partner with organizations that had a basis in the communities they were serving.  We partnered with Rhode Island Responds and the Pawtucket Public Health and Equity leadership to assist with patient registration, screening, and administrative tasks to support vaccinators.  I am grateful for this opportunity to get off campus, apply what I've learned in class about vaccine access and hesitancy, and learn how to respond to vaccine hesitancy with respect for people's beliefs. 

- Diane S., Brown FIVA 2021