In the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of September 11th, racial and religious discrimination of Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim and South Asian (AMEMSA) communities reached all new levels. This politically-charged climate was mirrored in the philanthropic sector. There was an immediate outpouring of philanthropic support for victims of the 9/11 attacks and for reinvestment in the neighborhoods and businesses affected. But with the exception of a few foundations that have been longtime supporters of civil and human rights, very little attention was paid by the philanthropic sector to the AMEMSA communities experiencing hate violence, bullying, workplace discrimination and racial and religious profiling by government entities.
In the San Francisco Bay Area, a handful of foundation leaders along with Grantmakers Concerned with Immigrants and Refugees (GCIR) and AAPIP began to meet and learn about ways to best support AMEMSA communities experiencing unprecedented backlash and discrimination.
In response, the Civic Engagement Fund (CEF) was established in 2006 as a pooled fund coordinated by AAPIP to invest in and raise the visibility of AMEMSA communities. The CEF supported sixteen AMEMSA organizations to increase their capacities to better serve their communities, and provided convening space for them to connect with one another.
From 2010-2014, CEF focused on how to build collective power within the AMEMSA communities for long-term community change. Together, the organizations created a shared analysis of issues affecting the AMEMSA communities, and then developed and coordinated their efforts across sub-populations and organizational practices.
This work would not have been possible without the thoughtful and supportive group of funders and advisory group members who provided strategic leadership and resources over the life of the CEF. The San Francisco Foundation served as an anchor partner with AAPIP from the outset to establish the CEF as a pooled fund. Key participants in the CEF Advisory Committee and learning community included the Wallace Alexander Gerbode Foundation, the Silicon Valley Community Foundation, the Y&H Soda Foundation, and the Whitman Institute.
To learn more about key lessons learned read our latest report here. To learn about some of the accomplishments of CEF, check out our series of videos highlighting firsthand stories and impact on the philanthropic and community partners below.