The Center for Effective Philanthropy

Beyond the Ban: Working in and with American Muslim Communities

Posted By Kalia Abiade  /   December 6, 2018

By Kalia Abiade

We are in the midst of one of the most contentious and divisive moments in U.S. history, and Muslim communities are feeling the pressure. From hate violence to racial profiling to outright Muslim bans, physical and political threats against our communities have been anything but vague.

Case in point, this week the Supreme Court of the United States decided to uphold President Trump’s Muslim ban, further devastating and separating families due to xenophobia and bigotry. While we are disappointed in the Court’s approval of the ban, we know that this is not the first time they have been on the wrong side of history.

And yet with these difficulties, there are so many bright spots. At the Pillars Fund, we are fortunate to work with grantee partners, community members, and allies who fought hard against this unjust policy, and who will no doubt continue the struggle. American Muslim civic leaders are showing up with seemingly boundless energy and determination to defend our communities and work with the leaders of intersecting movements for social change. They’ve sharpened their skills in some of the toughest civil rights battles of our time and have become adept at quickly responding to frequent attacks on rights.

At the Pillars Fund, our duty is to ensure that American Muslim civic leaders have the support they need to resist the injustices of today while we harness the necessary resources to help our communities thrive for generations to come. Since 2010, Pillars has invested more than $3 million to support American Muslim civic leaders and institutions. We are working to ensure that our next wave of leaders is nurtured and equipped to continue expanding rights for all.

Some of our colleagues in philanthropy are taking note and taking action. Since 2016, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Ford Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Nathan Cummings Foundation, and MacArthur Foundation have invested directly into Pillars to bolster American Muslim leadership and institutions. And other foundations and funding collaboratives are supporting community organizations beyond anti-bigotry measures and moving toward deeper engagement.

But there is so much more work to do. Right now, there is a well-funded, well-coordinated anti-Muslim industry that is putting tens of millions of dollars into this fight, passing harmful policies (including from the school board level), and putting dangerous proposals in front of the President himself.

We frequently get the same two questions from many of our colleagues in philanthropy: What is Pillars doing differently in this political moment? And how can we join this movement?

The answers are both simple and complex. Here are a few ways Pillars is grounding our work in the now and inviting you to join us as we plan for the future.

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