Eboo Patel, the Chicago based founder and executive director of Interfaith Youth Core, has won the 2010 Louisville Grawemeyer award in religion for his autobiography. He was selected from among 67 nominations worldwide.
Patelâ€™s encourages young people of different religions to perform community service, explore common values and build bridges among diverse faiths. The organization is now active on about 75 college campuses.
â€œReligious extremists all over the world are harnessing adolescent angst for their own ends,â€ said Susan Garrett, a religion professor who directs the award. â€œPatel urges us to take advantage of the short window of time in a young personâ€™s life to teach the universal values of cooperation, compassion and mercy.â€
The Indian born Patel immigrated to Chicago as a child. As a teenager, he struggled with what he saw as a lack of religious pluralism in America. His experiences prompted him to launch a movement to build interfaith cooperation by inspiring college students to champion the cause.
He formed Interfaith Youth Core in 1998.
A Rhodes Scholar, he is now a member of President Obamaâ€™s Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships and the Religious Advisory Committee of the Council on Foreign Relations. In October, U.S. News & World Report named him one of Americaâ€™s Best Leaders in 2009.
The Grawemeyer Awards are five annual $200,000 prizes given in the fields of music, political science, psychology, education, and religion. They were founded by H. Charles Grawemeyer to help make the world a better place. The University of Louisville and Louisville Presbyterian Seminary jointly award the religion prize.