Amplifying the leadership, narratives and talents of American Muslims

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Since its founding in 2010, Pillars has invested over $2 Million in opportunities for American Muslims to tell their own stories, become leaders and fight bias through the media, arts, public discourse and civil society.

There is no ‘us’ and ‘them’ in the American identity, only an evolving ’we’.

Our Values

At Pillars, our values drive us to not only invest in the most thoughtful and inspiring ideas but also to harness our collective resources to serve our own communities and contribute broadly to the world around us.

RESPECT

We treasure the right to stand with dignity in our convictions and the right of others to hold beliefs different from our own.

CONVICTION

We firmly believe that American Muslims contribute positively to the diversity of our country and its ideals of a just society.

SACRIFICE

We value selflessness and believe that putting the needs of the most vulnerable before our own is core to who we are as a community.

ACTION

We honor deeds over words and stand with those who take risks and exhibit leadership in challenging times.

GENEROSITY

We encourage all in our community to dig deep and give of their resources, taking personal responsibility for the greater good.

Our Approach

Pillars invests in opportunities to elevate and amplify the leadership, narratives and talents of American Muslims in civil society, the media and public discourse. Through our funding programs, campaigns and initiatives, we support a robust and growing nonprofit sector. We aspire to put an end to bigotry, xenophobia and other divisive tactics that keep our nation apart. Invigorated by the American ideal "out of many, one, " we strive for unity without uniformity and a society that prospers and leads through diversity.

Pillars believes knowledge and dissemination of information by and about American Muslims can help mitigate implicit and explicit bias and promote a more just and inclusive society. We help institutions understand the critical role Muslims play in civil society and help them identify opportunities to be more thoughtful in their engagement with Muslims. Meaningful representation matters, especially when it comes to decisions and depictions that directly impact our communities. Since 2010, Pillars has advised the country’s premier foundations, think tanks, civic leaders, filmmakers, and activists on how to use their distinct platforms to engage American Muslims.

Pillars believes that strong leaders and institutions are key to creating a world where American Muslims can live and thrive with dignity. Through our competitive grantmaking process, Pillars invests in some of our country’s most important civic organizations working in and alongside American Muslim communities. Since 2010, Pillars has invested more than $2 million in challenging religious and racial discrimination, creating space for us to tell our own stories, and protecting and expanding the rights of all people.

Pillars offers a unique opportunity for individual donors to collaborate with philanthropic institutions, learn about social movements, and explore different ways to create a world where everyone can live with dignity. At its core, Pillars is a network of individual donors from across the United States who believe in the power of collaborative giving. Since 2010, Pillars has grown its network of individual donors to over 25 families who donate a minimum of $25,000 each year through Pillars.

Our Process

The Pillars Board of Trustees awards grants annually. To be considered for the 2017-18 grant cycle, all organizations should submit a Letter of Inquiry (LOI) by August 15. Then, invited applicants will be asked to submit a full application in Fall 2017.

To begin the process, please create an account on our online platform. Once the account is created, organizations can access the Letter of Inquiry and future applications.

CREATE AN ACCOUNT

Important Dates for Fall 2017 Consideration.

JUNE 30

Process open to accept letters of inquiry for 2017-18 grant consideration.

AUGUST 15

Deadline at 11:59p CT to submit letter of inquiry for 2017-18 grant consideration.

SEPTEMBER 15

Letter of inquiry response date.

OCTOBER 20

Deadline to submit full application.

DECEMBER 4

Full Application Decision response date.

If you have any questions, please contact us at

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What We Fund

Pillars offers a unique opportunity for individual donors to collaborate with philanthropic institutions, learn about social movements, and explore different ways to create a world where everyone can live with dignity. At its core, Pillars is a network of individual donors from across the United States who believe in the power of collaborative giving. Since 2010, Pillars has grown its network of individual donors to over 25 families who donate a minimum of $25,000 each year through Pillars.

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We support social and policy change efforts that allow American Muslims to live and thrive with dignity and that protect and expand the human and civil rights of us all.

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We support the growth and nurturing of whole, healthy American Muslim communities that are equipped to serve those nearest to them and society at-large.

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We support a range of approaches to amplify American Muslim voices, create a deeper understanding of American Muslims and American society, and encourage people to learn more and take action.

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We recognize that leadership development and strong institutions are key to advancing rights, nurturing wellness, and expanding understanding. In addition to investing in those key areas, we invest in individual leaders and institutions to strengthen the American Muslim civic engagement community as a whole.

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Our Team

KASHIF SHAIKH

Co-Founder and Executive Director

Kashif Shaikh is a first-generation American Muslim, and is the co-founder and executive director of Pillars. Along with a group of five American Muslim philanthropists, he founded the organization in 2010 in partnership with the Chicago Community Trust to ensure that future generations of American Muslims have access to all of the freedoms and the opportunities by advancing an understanding of the American Muslim community. Under his leadership, he has grown the organization into a leading voice for American Muslims and built partnerships with some of the country’s most respected civic institutions.

Prior to launching Pillars, Kashif was a Program Officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation. In this role, Kashif managed dynamic charitable partnerships with the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Blackhawks, Chicago Bulls and other corporate entities, overseeing $5 million in annual grantmaking. Kashif’s career began at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, where he developed key strategies to engage the organization’s largest corporate partners. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, Kashif holds a Bachelor’s Degree from Ohio State University and a Master’s in Public Policy and Administration from Northwestern University. He is on the Board of Trustees of the Chicago Theological Seminary and is a member of the Economic Club of Chicago.

KALIA ABIADE

Director of Programs

Kalia oversees the Community Infrastructure Fund, managing grantee relationships and the annual grant cycle, and provides leadership for emerging Pillars initiatives. Prior to joining Pillars, Kalia spent four years at the Center for New Community, a national advocacy and research organization based in Chicago.

Kalia has more than 15 years of journalism experience, is a contributor at In These Times, and taught high school students in rural Southwest Virginia with the Upward Bound program. Her analysis has been cited in the Washington Post, The Nation, NPR, Public Radio International, and USA Today, among other outlets. Kalia earned a Bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida and studied race and social policy at Virginia Tech. She lives with her husband and their three children in Chicago.

Board of Advisors

  • Reza Aslan

    Professor, Author

  • Deepak Bhargava

    President, Center for Community Change

  • Grace Hou

    President, Woods Fund

  • Henry Izumizaki

    Strategy Director, The Russell Family Foundation

  • Valarie Kaur

    Filmmaker, Civil Rights Advocate, and Interfaith Leader

  • Rami Nashashibi

    Executive Director, Inner-city Muslim Action Network

  • Eboo Patel

    Executive Director, Interfaith Youth Core

  • Angelique Power

    President, Field Foundation

  • Linda Sarsour

    Civil Rights Actvist

  • Paul Schmitz

    Senior Advisor to the Collective Impact Forum

  • Ilyasah Shabazz

    Educator, Activist

  • Lateefah Simon

    President, Akonadi Foundation

  • Michael Skolnik

    Entrepreneur /Founder, Soze Agency

  • Tim Sweeney

    Former President, Gill Foundation

  • Jose Antonio Vargas

    Founder/CEO, Define American

News & Updates

A Secret Weapon In The Fight Against Islamophobia

Buzzfeed - September 6,2017

Chicago Grantmaker is making national waves

Chicago Sun Times - August 8,2017

In a fearful moment, this growing fund channels Muslim American philanthropy

Inside Philanthropy - July 25,2017

Contact

We would love to hear from you. Pillars is always actively seeking new and exciting ways to partner with civic organizations around the country and bring awareness to the diversity of the American Muslim community.

For more information on partnership opportunities or press inquiries, contact us at press@pillarsfund.org

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