Heritage Month: Arab Americans in Philanthropy
BY: Sevan Araz/Contributing Writer
Philanthropy plays a traditional role in the development of the Arab World. The concepts of charity and equality have been deeply entrenched into the mindset of Arabs who value community strength and generosity. These principles remain in the Arab American communities that continue to serve those around them.
Philanthropic organizations have been instrumental in developing key educational institutions and social services that contribute to communal development, both in the Arab World and Arab American communities. Arab immigrants to the United States have retained this commitment to social progress and incorporate many innovative ideals into their organizational structures.
The Center for Arab American Philanthropy (CAAP), a national program of ACCESS, embodies the ideals of progress and charity by facilitating financial aid to various organizations throughout the United States. CAAP allows donor organization to have a far-reaching impact on various communities, and provides educational services to cultivate a new generation of youth to realize the importance of social outreach.
Other ways Arab Americans give back is through community service. Within organizations such as the Arab American Institute, ACCESS, the National Network for Arab American Communities, and village organizations, there are annual service days that get Arab Americans volunteering within and outside their communities.
One common way Arab Americans volunteer is by working in community gardens, such as the Gibran garden in Washington, DC, the Nizar Kabani garden in Cleveland, or the Syrian park in New York City. Additionally, Arab Americans can teach English as a second language, offer their time to Syrian, Iraqi, and Yemeni refugee services, clean up their neighborhood, and advocate for human rights on behalf of those oppressed in the Arab World.
Because Arab Americans that have faced civil strife, conflict, and instability, they place an emphasis on their past struggles to show gratitude for their current peace and appreciation for their host country. As populations embark on a process of rehabilitation and rebuild a better community, it becomes their responsibility to assist others who have struggled, too.
Philanthropists should be embraced as a central element of the Arab American community as they attempt to navigate the country’s changing social landscape and further integrate into American public life.