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21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center

Partnering for Impact

21Wilberforce

The 21Wilberforce Global Freedom Center  (21Wilberforce) is a Christian human rights nonprofit organization dedicated to addressing the growing global need to protect and advance the fundamental and universal right to freedom of religion, belief, and conscience (FoRB). We seek to stand with, advocate for, and tangibly support people and communities that are threatened or are being persecuted because of their religious faith, practice, or conscience.

Impact & results-based actions

21Wilberforce knows advancement of religious freedom depends on engaging, empowering, and facilitating grassroots initiatives and collaboration among individuals and organizations and in consultation with the intended beneficiaries. We seek to be servant leaders in enabling and empowering others, facilitating results-based solutions, partnership programs, and coordinated coalition-based actions.

Goals

This vision translates into three strategic goals:

    1. Defend and assist the persecuted and vulnerable.
    2. Mobilize and equip individuals and groups to effectively lead change for dignity-affirming freedom and justice for all people.
    3. Inform critical understanding and decision making. 

Program Areas

These goals inform and shape our three program action areas.
  1. Collaborative Advocacy and Action: Engage in and facilitate global religious freedom advocacy and effective action through collaborative partnerships, coalitions, and local initiatives.
  2. Mobilization, Equipping, and Training: Help organizations build capacity for effective action and educate and train individuals to be effective advocates and leaders of transformative change.
  3. Strategic Communications: Use strategic platforms and products to communicate with multiple external audiences for critical awareness and informed decision making.

Working Globally to Advance Freedom of Religion, Belief, and Conscience

Defend & Assist the
Persecuted and Vulnerable

Advocacy, Action & Impact

We engage in and facilitate global religious freedom advocacy and effective collective action through collaborative partnerships, coalitions, and local initiatives.

Defending Prisoners of Conscience

We focus on combining international and host-country advocacy with practical assistance to individuals unjustly imprisoned in various countries because of their faith or beliefs.

Recently, in Nepal 21Wilberforce worked with a Christian denomination to advocate for the release of a Christian pastor from another denomination, whose supporters asked for help when the pastor was arrested on trumped-up charges. 21W took the lead in connecting Nepali pastors and advocates with the U.S. State Department, U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), and the U.N. Human Rights Council to help bring international attention to his unjust imprisonment. 21W drafted and coordinated a recommendation to the UN Council on its religious freedom report on Nepal, and then tapped its network to help find and apply for monetary support for the pastor’s many legal expenses.

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21Wilberforce Advocacy Campaigns

The goal of our campaigns is not to make a point but to make a difference—to get concrete results that have a tangible impact on people’s lives. To that end, we conduct campaigns in pursuit of specific goals. And we urge you to participate in our campaigns or create your own so that policy makers in Washington and around the world hear from citizen-champions of international freedom of faith and belief. 

International FoRB Roundtables & Forums

21Wilberforce also works with other organizations in representing positions and coordinating advocacy engagement with the U.S. Government and in civil society forums in Washington, D.C. A key effort for 21Wilberforce is representing causes and advocacy interests at the International Religious Freedom Roundtable (IRFR), a NGO-led civil society assembly that collaborates with the IRF Office at the State Department and meets weekly on Capitol Hill.
The IRFR functions as a convening forum for groups from multiple faiths, sectors, and ideologies to work together to address IRF challenges combining practical policy discussions, coordinated action, and solutions development between civil society, government, and multilateral organizations. It has attracted representatives of 250 organizations, has launched more than 100 multi-faith initiatives, and is currently helping launch a growing number of affiliated roundtables in key locations worldwide. In the last several years 21Wilberforce has played a growing leadership and facilitation role in related IRFR activities. 21Wilberforce has served as Vice Chair of the IRF Roundtable, serves on the Roundtable’s Steering Committee, currently co-chairs a number of the forum’s working groups including the Congressional Working Group and the Young Leaders Working Group, and helps coordinate and actively participates in other IRFR working groups (e.g., United Nations Working Group, China Coalition, South East Asia Working Group).
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UN Engagement

21Wilberforce works with network partners to represent and help coordinate efforts and communication with the global network at the United Nations. Its team now has U.N. credentials to work alongside other delegates in representing a global network on issues of international religious freedom and human rights.

Empower change agents

Mobilize, Train & Equip

Help organizations build capacity for effective action and educate and train individuals to be effective advocates and emergent leaders of transformative change.

Developing Collaborative Partnerships, Coalitions, and Local Initiatives

21Wilberforce works collaboratively to 1) increase the capacity of partner organizations and coalitions, and 2) help launch and develop sustainable, high-impact, and scalable programs and initiatives that support, advocate for, and seek justice on behalf of threatened and persecuted believers and faith communities.  Toward that end, we have convened communications strategy sessions, trained partners on how best to collaborate with legislators, shaped policy-changing narratives with persecuted people, and provided useful tools and resources.

Capacity Building for Collaborative Global Religious Freedom Forums 

Accelerated by challenges associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, 21Wilberforce works with IRF Roundtable leadership to expand the operational digital capacity of the IRFR and provide a web-based online platform for coordinated collaborative advocacy actions by IRFR members and the religious freedom community.

21Wilberforce provides the online forum where hundreds of faith leaders and advocacy representatives in the U.S. and overseas meet weekly with the U.S. Ambassador and other U.S. government representatives. In 2020 alone, some 1000 individuals from around the world have utilized the platform for these weekly forums.
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Ministerials To Advance FoRB

In 2020, for the third straight year, 21Wilberforce worked with the IRFR and State Department’s Office of International Religious Freedom to help coordinate civil society aspects of the third Annual Global Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion and Belief (FoRB), bringing together government and civil society leaders from around the globe to participate in virtual plenary sessions and side events.

Roundtable Network Development

Currently working to support the development of dozens of coordinated religious freedom roundtable forums around the world. 21Wilberforce initiated and helped launch the first of these global partner roundtables in Nigeria in January 2019.

Impact Partnerships

21Wilberforce works to recruit faith communities, schools, and other organizations as Impact Partners to engage their memberships in FoRB advocacy and the defense and active support of those around the world who suffer for their faith. Programs, training, and resources are tailored according to partners’ needs and desired level of engagement.

  • Online digital knowledge, lessons-learned and best practices, online training and facilitated web-based mentoring, and advocacy and direct-action tools and resources. Includes gallery and spotlighted examples of Global Impact Partner initiatives.
  • Regular Alerts and information on important global IRF news/events.
  • Training of a young leader/representative of the Partner organization in developing and coordinating global religious freedom engagement at the partner organization/faith community.
  • Church and other partner toolkits with resources for member engagement. Includes information and materials for the Speak Freedom/International Day of Prayer.
  • Identify opportunities and facilitate dynamic partnerships between churches and other Impact Partners in the West and their counterparts in countries that have religious restrictions and persecution.

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21W Ambassadors & Global Network

Connecting Needs With Resources/Assistance—In 2020, 21Wilberforce began recruiting and engaging Ambassadors for six global regions. These 21Wilberforce Ambassadors will work with regional faith communities, organizations, and local advocates in helping identify and meet the needs of faith communities and members facing religious restrictions or persecution.

21Wilberforce
Regional
Ambassadors

Working with churches and people of faith in regions around the world to match local needs with network resources & solutions. 

Training & Equipping Emergent Leaders

21Wilberforce provides practical, hands-on education and training in IRF advocacy and leadership for young “emerging leaders”, activists, and organizational leadership of local faith communities in religiously restricted countries. We also develop and deploy IRF leadership education, advocacy training materials (such as the IRF Congressional Scorecard), and campaign toolkits for activists, policy decision-makers, and faith communities.

Emerging Leaders Program 

The Emerging Leaders Initiative builds on four years of successful conferences that 21Wilberforce has held for university-level students. It is a transformative leadership experience that gives students in-depth engagement with top international human rights leaders and opportunities to actively make a difference for religious freedom.

Educating, training, and equipping existing and emerging activists and leaders to advance international religious freedom is one of 21Wilberforce’s principal activity areas. Toward that end, we convene communications strategy sessions, train partners on how best to collaborate with legislators, shape policy-changing narratives with persecuted people, collaborate on launching new solutions-based initiatives, and provide useful tools and resources. 21Wilberforce provides practical, hands-on education and training in IRF advocacy and leadership for activists and decision makers. It also brings this combined experience and hands-on approach to training and equipping emerging leaders

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Impact Leadership Training

21Wilberforce provides impact leadership training, education, and resources to prepare faith leaders to serve their communities as champions and change agents for religious freedom and justice. 

This leadership program has two primary tracks…

The first track is designed for individuals at a local level that seek to be effective emergent leaders that inspire, lead, and empower others in transformative initiatives and movements. The second global impact track is designed for faith and civic leaders who are actively experiencing persecution around the world. By working with highly trusted, field-based partners, our training program effectively focuses on the empowerment of individuals in places of resistance to make their impact as transformational leaders. Field-based training is derived from our close interaction with leaders in places like Ethiopia, Nigeria, Syria, Lebanon, China, South Korea, and more.   

Since its inception, 21Wilberforce has internationally trained over 4,500 pastors and leaders suffering in areas of conflict (including 1,175 Ethiopian leaders and 1,800 Chinese house church leaders).  In addition, Dr. Everett’s thirteen 30-minute leadership training series has been programmed and aired on Iran Alive, a Christian Iranian satellite ministry station watched by over 6 million Iranians.

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IRF Summit 2021 Young Leaders Track

21Wilberforce is one of the co-chairs and is helping to run the Young Leaders Track component of the International Religious Freedom Summit in Washington, DC (July 2021). The Young Leaders Track will bring together students and young professionals to equip them with the knowledge, advocacy skills, and professional connections to make a difference on the frontlines of international religious freedom advocacy. Students will receive training on human rights advocacy firsthand from experienced advocates, government officials, and survivors of religious persecution and connect with other passionate young leaders from around the world. 

Global Emerging Leaders Summit 2021

21Wilberforce’s new Global Emerging Leaders FoRB Summit will build on our transformative leadership programs to expand the diversity of student and young leader participants, develop a global FoRB focus on how to leverage the United Nations and international ecosphere to advance religious freedom, and connect a network of young leaders with resources, mentors and funding that will equip them to bring their FoRB initiative ideas to life. 

2020 Ministerial Young Leaders Event 

In November, 2020, 21Wilberforce launched a Young Leaders Program during the global Ministerial to Advance Freedom of Religion and Belief hosted by the Government of Poland. Co-hosting the event with the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), the event brought key religious freedom leaders from civil society and the U.S. Government together with accomplished young leaders from around the world to share the importance of engaging youth leaders and the need to establish best practices to mobilize students to serve as ambassadors for religious freedom in their communities.

The four young leaders were women who are advocacy trailblazers in their communities around the world. Following the panel discussion, students who attended the event joined an interactive breakout track that provided the opportunity to engage directly with the panelist and each other on how they can make a difference in their communities.

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Online Training 

21Wilberforce’s online training equips global participants with tools to strengthen your impact on advocacy and campaigns. These concise materials outline best practices for strategy, messaging, mobilizing and promoting issues.

21Wilberforce Global Leaders Fellowship

The 21Wilberforce Global  Leaders Fellowship is a post-university, one-year mentored intern apprenticeship and training program that provides selected individuals with “in-the-field” engagement to gain the knowledge and experience in the tasks, structures, processes, and collaboration essential to advancing global religious freedom. We select recent graduates looking to add practical skills to their demonstrated academic and entrepreneurial commitment to justice, human rights, and empowering others.
The Fellowship delivers experiential training in organizational operations, management, and strategic leadership that form the administrative backbone of any justice-increasing endeavor. The program provides opportunities and mentorship in collaboration within and across organizations that foster effective alliances, and we encourage and support initiatives by Fellows that support the 21Wilberforce vision. The program also provides opportunities to gain insight and understanding of how to confront one of the world’s great challenges in the 21st Century. The Fellowship involves full-time training and service engagement for one year in 21Wilberforce’s Falls Church, Virginia office. Tasks and functional activities vary depending on current projects undertaken by 21Wilberforce, but core functions will focus on assisting in the development of 21Wilberforce’s programs and operations, engaging in diverse coalitions, providing administrative and organizational support, and expanding the effectiveness of our team’s efforts.
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21Wilberforce Associate Program

Throughout the year 21Wilberforce engages college and graduate students as mentored Associates, usually either full-time for an academic semester during the school year or summer, or, in some cases, part-time throughout the school year. These Associate positions are immersive intern apprenticeships that provide “in-the-field” education and training on tasks, structures, processes, and collaboration essential to advancing global religious freedom.

Depending on the individual’s interests, skill sets and the needs of the team, the Associate position provides not only exposure to the various aspects of religious freedom advocacy, but allows “learning by doing” experiential leadership education and participation in coalition working groups, developing advocacy campaigns, and coordinating partner events.

Accomplishments of past associates include serving as team leads in helping organize and coordinate civil society side events for two global Ministerials at the U.S. State Department, helping build an online center of excellence and resource program for a global network of multifaith religious freedom and human rights forums, providing research and analysis for Congressional and State Department decision makers, and participating in civil society working groups.

While in the past these positions tended to be in-person in Washington, D.C., 21Wilberforce now also provides volunteer Associate positions that can be performed remotely and internationally.

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Training, Equipping and Empowering

Let us help you empower your network and organizational membership: Advocacy Training, Network Activation, Strategic Communications, and Leadership Coaching.

Knowledge for Action

Strategic Communications

Use strategic platforms and products to communicate with multiple external audiences for critical awareness and informed decision making.

Tools for Increasing Critical Awareness and Informing Decision Making

IRF Congressional Scorecard

The IRF Congressional Scorecard seeks to increase Congressional awareness of international religious freedom issues, encourage legislators to take even bolder actions in support of this freedom, and provide citizens with a nonpartisan, concise summary of public actions taken by Congress on issues related to international religious freedom. The Scorecard highlights the voting records of members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives for bills, resolutions, and amendments that support international religious freedom. It also tracks sponsorship and co-sponsorship of bills and membership in international religious freedom-related caucuses. 

Data Spectrum

The Global Religious Freedom (GRF) Data Spectrum project is a new initiative by 21Wilberforce to provide the IRF community, analysts, and political decision makers with a comparative framework for viewing geospatial data and analytical perspectives from a wide range of politically and socially diverse organizations that evaluate and rank countries according to criteria related to freedoms and restrictions. The GRF Data Spectrum project maps these diverse perspectives in a compelling way and provides a report analyzing the indicators to help people understand the opportunities and gaps in Global Religious Freedom data.   

Collaborative Resources and Platforms

Online Freedom Center

The central component of this integrated resource framework is the online 21Wilberforce Freedom Center. This flagship online platform informs and prepares stakeholders to take effective action with a curated library of resources, training and education platforms, and online action tools. This powerful resource helps users inform stakeholders, makes their voice heard, and allows them to actively make a difference in a seamless experience.

Global Center of Excellence

In late 2020 21W began the first phase of designing and building an online Global Center of Excellence for roundtables and government and civil society alliances and networks around the world.

Global Data (Countries & Issues)

Beta site of the Global Data Dashboard, curated knowledge on countries and issues related to global freedom of religion, belief, and conscience (commonly referred to as FoRB).

Freedom Center Library

The 21Wilberforce Freedom Center Library provides a wide breadth of resources to explore on international religious freedom topics. The library compiles key resources on topics ranging from the fundamentals of religious freedom to country-specific information on laws to religious freedom data and studies.