The goal of the Engage 2016 Initiative was to proactively identify through research, the challenges American Shia-Muslims face, in an effort to facilitate initiatives that collectively protect their constitutional rights.
In phase I, we conducted a comprehensive research study on the contemporary challenges American Shia-Muslims face in the areas of Elections, Constitutional Rights and Liberties, Anti-Muslim Rhetoric, and Anti-Muslim Hate Crimes. After completing the research, we hosted a summit in Washington, D.C. that was attended by over 50 religious scholars, academicians, entrepreneurs, attorneys, physicians, community activists, and other professionals. The conveners at the summit discussed the findings of the research and deliberated for a whole day to reach a consensus on specific action items – ones that were achievable and measurable – that can effectively address the challenges outlined in the research.
In phase II, we worked tirelessly to bring the elements needed together to translate the proposed actions items at the summit into action. Our approach was to identify national organizations that have some of these products and work with them to deliver these products through the Shia-Muslim centers. We strongly believe that one of the most effective means to reach and mobilize our community is through the centers themselves. Our role, therefore, was to become a bridge between the national organizations who have the products and the Shia-Muslim centers who can deliver the products to their constituencies.
We organized a conference in Dearborn, MI that brought the national organizations and local centers together. The national organizations; Emerge USA, ACCESS, Nonprofit VOTE, the Arab-American Anti-Discrimination Committee, Motion Projects, and The Make Agency, offered product-driven presentations in the areas of election education, voter engagement, community educational outreach, ad campaigns, and strategic communication planning. The representatives of the Shia-Muslim centers at the conference promised to make a diligent effort to implement some of the products presented at their establishments. For more information on what took place at the conference, please click here.
At this juncture, we are in phase III. For the next three months, the Mainstay Foundation will follow up with all the Shia-Muslim centers that attended the conference and others who are part of our network. We will contact each center directly to see how we can help the center in implementing at least one of the products. Whether it is setting up a registration drive, hosting a candidate forum for local elections, offering a workshop on rights and liberties, or any other related effort, we will provide support in any capacity we can. Given that this year is a consequential election year for American Muslims, election education and engagement take priority
We are excited to announce an important partnership we have established with Nonprofit VOTE. Founded in 2005, Nonprofit VOTE partners with America’s nonprofits to help the people they serve participate and vote. They are the leading source of nonpartisan resources to help nonprofits integrate voter engagement into their ongoing activities and services. The Mainstay Foundation worked with Nonprofit VOTE to push out materials that provide step-by-step instruction for local centers on how to integrate voter engagement programs as part of their work. I invite you to benefit from these materials at the following link.