Working for workplace religious diversity, equity & inclusion


Students from Marriott School’s Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance Help Advance Religious Freedom

4 Jul, 2017

To assist with the recent influx of refugees in Europe, during the Fall 2016 semester a team of four BYU students worked with the Religious Freedom & Business Foundation (RFBF) to create a business plan for an interfaith business incubator in Manchester, England.

Pictured: Alex Oldroyd, Ellen Brotherson, and Fred (Wen Jie) Tan were on a Ballard Center Social Innovation Projects team that helped the Religious Freedom and Business Foundation create a business incubator.

The project aims to help refugees integrate into English society and become more self-reliant in their new homes. “The incubator is a place where young people from different faiths can come together and learn not just business skills but also how faith can be a strong motivation for doing well,” says RFBF president Brian Grim. Grim notes that the business plan was useful in helping the very first community-sponsored refugee family to England navigate issues of whether to start a private business or work for an existing business.

The initiative is one of many involving the Ballard Center for Economic Self-Reliance’s Social Innovation Projects, an on-campus internship program that allows students to work with social innovation organizations.

In previous semesters, Ballard Center Social Innovation Projects teams helped RFBF plan and implement Empowerment+, a social cohesion and enterprise initiative in Manchester, England.

Empowerment+ interfaith action groups are communities of people helping each other gain practical life and career skills that focus on more than just finding a job, but on a vocation that is meaningful and fulfilling.

Empowerment+ (plus) is not just about receiving love and help but also about the transformative opportunity to become part of a neighborly faith-inspired community that loves and helps others, including immigrants and refugees.

Empowerment+ has three interconnected interfaith elements: Launching Leaders, Find a Better Job, and My Foundation.

The inspiration for Empowerment+ comes from the famous story about loving our neighbors – The Good Samaritan. Although the Good Samaritan was a foreigner with a foreign religion, his care for the man left to die by the side of the road is the example of love we are called to show to others regardless of their faith or background.

The first class of Empowerment+ graduated in January. Below is a video from the graduation, which was keynoted by the former Manchester United coach, Sir Alex Ferguson.