Pillars’ mission and hopes for the future
/ November 20, 2018
Kashif Shaikh, our executive director and co-founder, discusses our mission to uplift Muslims in America because we believe in a more just and inclusive nation. Since our inception, we have invested more than $4 million in civil engagement, community service, and storytelling initiatives.
A Letter from Our Executive Director // November 14, 2018
It’s hard to believe that the midterm elections were just last week. As it has for much of this year, time has moved in ways that have made it hard to keep up. In 2018, so many communities from coast to coast said they were ready to break from the past by making space for fresh, bold leaders and ideas. Election Day was no different. We know that when Representatives-elect Ilhan Omar and Rashida Tlaib walk the halls of Congress as the first two Muslim women to do so, it will be because of the years of preparation and the tireless efforts of community members in cities and towns around the country who challenged the status quo. And we know that this is just the beginning.
The injection of diverse perspectives that we’ve experienced this year is at the heart of what we stand for at Pillars and what we hope is just one more step on the journey to an even more just future.
Since our inception in 2010, we’ve invested nearly $4 million in American Muslim organizations and leaders who are telling our stories authentically and lifting up our communities through political organizing, advocacy, culture, and wellness programs. The Muslim community isn’t short on talent, which is why Pillars is providing resources, capital, and coordination to fuel organizations and help challenge the great barrier of institutionalized racism through the essential work of our grantees.
In 2018, Pillars also made a broader commitment to real, sustained culture change. We launched an exciting partnership with the Pop Culture Collaborative to curate and nurture a cohort of American Muslim stakeholders from social movements, entertainment, the arts, advertising, and academia who can participate in a long-term narrative vision and culture change strategy. We are incredibly eager to bring so many talented people together to tackle such a complex issue.
This is also a time to recommit to supporting organizations that have been innovators in their respective fields, long before there was a focus on growing the American Muslim nonprofit sector. This includes organizations like the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), right here in Chicago, which has provided health and housing services, arts programs, and political organizing power to heal and transform communities on the city’s South Side for more than 20 years. We stand behind Muslim Advocates as they tackle some of our country’s most pressing legal issues, including the Muslim ban, religious discrimination, and hate crimes. And we are privileged to support and directly benefit from the American Muslim Civic Leadership Institute (AMCLI), which has been training American Muslim civic leaders for 10 years now. These are just a few of the organizations Pillars has had the honor of supporting.
It’s been almost nine years since Pillars Fund was just an idea. Since then, we have grown from a few volunteers to a small team of full-time professionals—and a widening network of organizations and individuals committed to a more inclusive and just America. I am constantly traveling around the country to connect with people who share this vision and want to be a part of our dynamic community of donors, partner organizations, and grantees.
The stakes could not be any higher. We believe our work to elevate the voices and creativity of American Muslims is a key step toward achieving justice for all people—and will shift us from being characters in someone else’s story to narrating our own collective future.
To those who’ve been with us on this journey, we are so grateful for your partnership. Going forward, we hope to widen this circle of incredible organizations and individuals who share our vision.
Co-Founder and Executive Director