A committee of philanthropic leaders will work together to create a deeper understanding of Muslim communities, nuances of funding and specific issues these communities face.
Our story: Waraich Family Fund, Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition, Community Collaboration Initiative, and Field Foundation
Waraich Family Fund
As a door of opportunity opened in America, family members immigrated from South Asia and settled in Chicago with hopes of providing a better life and opportunity for their children. The early years were filled with lots of hard work and sacrifice. Despite humble beginnings, they were able to provide their children a stable home that was rooted in Islamic values and traditions.
It all started around the kitchen table where our family sat and discussed Muslim philanthropy and Zakat allocations each Ramadan. We saw our parents talk passionately about giving to their home countries of Pakistan and India. We heard about how those lands and people needed our support financially, emotionally, and spiritually. These shared values served as the foundation on which The Waraich Family built a desire to promote equity in their own backyard, America. Now, our family also sits at the kitchen table each Ramadan and discusses where we can support Muslim American-led initiatives.
Believing that the underlying causes of social and economic problems cannot be addressed alone, the family invests in innovative Muslim-led initiatives that are driven by brave and bold ideas to create a just and inclusive America.
The universally shared values of Islam drive our family to advance long lasting social impact. Our family aims to hold convenings, support Muslim-led initiatives, and direct investments to diverse sectors.
The family giving is driven by the true spirit of Zakat, the third pillar of Islam, which in its literal and simplest meaning is purity. The mission is to empower people and institutions to be self-sufficient, build stronger communities, and be the force of good in our backyard.
Building the Learning Launch and Our Partnership
The Community Collaboration Initiative (CCI) hosted at the Indiana University Lilly School of Philanthropy, a project fully funded by the Waraich Family Fund came from the desire to build leadership, capacity building, and trust between Muslim American-led nonprofits in establishing ways to work together towards solving a common problem.
CCI’s year one goal is collaboration through trust building. The year two goal is collaboration through programming. The year three goal is collaboration through sustainability. As our conversations ensued, this is how Field Foundation, Illinois Muslim Civic Coalition and CCI organically evolved into the Learning Launch partnership and philanthropic community.
Muslim American-led organizations are serving their communities in a broad manner and the Learning Launch seeks to amplify their work with philanthropic organizations.
The Learning Launch is funded by the Waraich Family Fund and sponsorship from generous institutions and visionaries such as you.
IL Muslim Civic Coalition
Today, philanthropists’ and grantors’ support intersects with every aspect of our lives; a regional foundation may fund Census efforts, a national grantor may focus on remote education research and tools, and a local funder may create sustainability for an organization serving refugees or a civic organization working on voter engagement.
The IL Muslim Civic Coalition convenes organizations across the state, region, and some across the nation that focus on civic efforts, advocacy and policy on critical issues, increased civic and voter engagement, and relationship-building with elected and public officials. This work is critical to promoting equity, eradicating racism, and ensuring opportunities for all residents to build a life. It also intersects directly with government funding, private philanthropy, and business sponsorships. And this is one reason the Coalition is a convener for the Year of Learning and the Learning Launch.
Dr. Dilara Sayeed and Reema Kamran strive to come to this work with an empowering vision, clear scope, and a passion for service. Dilara grew up as a Chicago kid. She became an educator who has led learning, social, and civic initiatives in wealthy communities as well as in the lowest income neighborhoods across Illinois. She understands that the difference between outcomes for students, families and residents is access, influence, and resources. Reema is a global citizen, having lived in nations with very different social and civic systems across the world. Her family struggled in some systems and thrived in others. Today, as a U.S. citizen, she works to bring the best systems together through policy, legislation, and impact.
Both co-founders of the IL Muslim Civic Coalition know that governments, philanthropy, and business collectively impact social outcomes every day. Their team brings together hundreds of local, regional, and national organizations and influencers to convene, collaborate, and amplify each other towards social and civic justice. The Coalition’s constituents are of every race, ethnicity, class, background, and faith. But too often, these communities are marginalized or simply invisible. The Coalition aims to change this by connecting American Muslim organizations and their service and impact with each other and with the greater American funders and sponsors.
The Coalition is proud to join the Waraich Family Fund, Field Foundation, and our collaborators across the nation, on a Learning Launch of the American Muslims community; its diversity, talents, needs, aspirations, and service to our collective American story.
Founded in 1940 by Marshall Field III, the Field Foundation is a private, independent foundation that has been dedicated to the promise of Chicago for over 80 years. The Field Foundation aims its grant-making toward the goal of community empowerment through funding nonprofits working in Justice, Art, Media & Storytelling and Leadership Investment.
We seek to invest in organizations working to address systemic issues in divested communities. At the center of the Field Foundation’s work is the idea of community empowerment. We want to clarify that we do not claim to “empower” the “powerless,” rather we see many of Chicago’s community-based organizations as immense sources of power that need support. We envision these “local power grids” as organizations, networks, alliances, and seek to learn more about them for potential investment of our limited dollars. Community empowerment is also our personal north star. A way of asking the sector to hold us accountable for our work, and to ensure that our dollars are spent on powering specific communities.
The Field Foundation is proud to partner with the the IL Muslim Civic Coalition, the Community Collaboration Initiative (CCI), the Waraich Family Fund, and others to support the Muslims in America: A Learning Launch for the Philanthropic Community, convening to foster a deeper understanding of Muslim communities, the nuances of funding, and specific issues these communities face.
This year of learning we plan for an event that will elevate awareness around the struggles of our Muslim brothers and sisters. The Learning Launch will be a virtual event, not taking place on physical ground. Yet, each of us remains in the realm of the physical, even if we are not together in one place. Many of us live and work in northeastern Illinois.
Today, we acknowledge that Chicago and its environs occupy the traditional lands of indigenous peoples who have lived on these lands for 10,000 years.
They are the Three Fires Peoples—the Ojibwe the Odawa and the Bode’wadmi. We further acknowledge Ho-Chunk, Sauk, Fox, and Kickapoo. Today, Illinois is home to members of 150 different tribes, including Lakota Sioux, Dakota, Navajo, Zuni, Menominee, Oneida and Choctaw, Cherokee, Miami and many others.
Let us remember our collective responsibility to do right by indigenous peoples beginning with acknowledging the origins and history of these lands, but not ending there.
Let us reflect in the words of a prominent chief who has left the physical world.
Your Path. Everything is laid out for you. Your path is straight ahead of you. Sometimes it is invisible, but it is there. You may not know where it is going, but you have to follow that path. It is the path to the Creator. It is the path to doing good for others. It is the only path there is.