Philadelphia groups among 12 awarded grants for Arab American programming
This year’s grantees work primarily in three areas: arts and culture, social services and education.
AACDC offers English classes, a food pantry and educational workshops, among other services. Founded in 1997, it is the only Arab American social services organization in Philadelphia serving Arab Americans and refugees. And the need is great.
The food pantry, for instance, wasn’t very busy a few years ago, said Zeina El-Halabi, AACDC associate director. Today, workers can’t keep enough food on the shelves.
AACDC annually serves between 3,000-5,000 people in all of its programs, El Halabi said. “I think we’re making a really big difference.”
Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture was started in 2002 to promote Arabic language, arts and culture through the arts. It began with a summer camp for 1st- through 5th-graders. Today, Al-Bustan has programs in public schools for students of all ages, a music concert series, and visual and literary art programs. The organization has even developed a curriculum for teachers to use in their classrooms.
“We serve the Arab and non-Arab community,” said Hazami Sayed, executive director. “We constantly strive to serve the non-Arabs through cross-cultural activities. It’s important, and I feel we’ve been able to portray an enriching Arab perspective on the arts.”
Through public school programs, Hazami noted, the organization is helping Arab children understand themselves and their own heritage. Al-Bustan reaches between 500-600 children, teens and adults through its programming.
“The CAAP grant supports our educational programs,” Sayed said. “Because of this economic climate, every bit counts. Resources are tight all around; any support we get we are so grateful for.”