Philadelphia groups among 12 awarded grants for Arab American programming
Press release (Aug. 15, 2011) — About two years ago, an elderly Iraqi mother and her 45-year-old daughter fled their country and became refugees in Philadelphia. They had nothing. They couldn’t afford rent, so they stayed in a church for a few months.
In time, they applied and obtained permanent residency, found part-time work and affordable housing in a friendly and safe neighborhood. They were able to do all of this thanks to assistance and guidance from the Arab American Community Development Corporation in Philadelphia.
Two Arab American organizations, AACDC and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture, will be able to continue their work thanks in part to grants they received from the Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP) in Dearborn, Mich.
CAAP today announced its third round of grant making, which includes AACDC and Al-Bustan Seeds of Culture among 12 grassroots organizations throughout the country to receive a total of $53,000. CAAP has awarded nearly $180,000 since it began making grants in 2009.
The only national Arab American philanthropic support organization in the United States, CAAP builds on the tradition of Arab American giving by working with donors to invest their charitable dollars in organizations and programs making the greatest impact.
“Through general grant-making and donor-advised funds, CAAP empowers individuals to fulfill their philanthropic goals within and beyond the Arab American community,” said Maha Freij, deputy executive director and CFO of ACCESS, CAAP’s parent organization. “By giving through CAAP, donors are leaving a legacy of Arab American philanthropy for the future.”
ACCESS, a nonprofit based in Dearborn, Mich., established CAAP in 2005 as a way to strengthen the impact of Arab American philanthropy and leverage individual giving locally and nationally in the aftermath of 9/11.
CAAP’s current round of funding provides grantees with general operating support, which is vital to help small organizations get off the ground and remain solvent, Freij noted.
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.”