MLFA in partnership with CAIR Chicago Honored at Muslim Collaboration Prizes Convening with a $200,000 Dollar Grant

Press Release
October 7, 2022

Contact: Jeannine Sherman
MLFA Communications
[email protected]
(972) 331-9021


The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), in collaboration with The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago (CAIR-CHI), Awarded a $200,000 grant to create the American Muslim Legal Ecosystem (AMLE)

Chicago, IL – October 7th, 2022: The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA), in collaboration with the Council on American-Islamic Relations- Chicago (CAIR-CHI) was awarded a $200,000 grant from the Community Collaboration Initiative’s Muslim Collaboration Prizes on October 1, 2022. The Community Collaboration Initiative has allowed like-minded nonprofit organizations to work together on a project to improve society, the culmination of a three-year program through Indiana University’s Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.


“Muslim-led nonprofits often face a lack of visibility and understanding, and the learnings and successes of the three-year program illustrate the power of collaboration across Muslim-led nonprofits,” said Dilnaz Waraich, president of the Waraich Family Fund. “We are incredibly proud of the time and commitment these amazing nonprofits spent building trust and relationships with each other, and really learning to operate from a mindset of shared wealth- we are stronger together if we collaborate rather than just cooperate. Saturday’s events truly exemplified the positive experience the participants had working together.”

The Community Collaboration Initiative (CCI) has helped emphasize collaborations, learnings, and honest conversations between philanthropy and Muslim-led institutions to uplift religious pluralism and institutional change. 21 Muslim-led nonprofit organizations were recognized at this event, which awarded a total of $1 million in grants to continue collaboration and success between organizations. Five teams made up of 21 leaders from nonprofits in the areas of community organizing, national public policy and advocacy, Muslim Community Centers, health and well-being, and legal, had the opportunity to present and reflect on their key findings of the program in the room of engaging key philanthropic leaders across a range of religions and industries.

A $200,000 grant will enable The Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) and The Council on American-Islamic Relations-Chicago (CAIR-CHI) to create the American Muslim Legal Ecosystem (AMLE). Arshia Ali-Khan, CEO of MLFA, and Gerald Hankerson, CAIR-CHI’s Outreach Coordinator will lead this initiative.

When Muslim Americans need legal support and do not know where to go or who to turn to, many get left behind. Legal support is much like health support: people’s lives are at risk if their legal troubles are not handled with care. Since the September 11th attacks, Muslim Americans and Muslim organizations have felt “threatened” and under “attack” through surveillance, terrorist watchlists, national registries, Muslim Travel Bans, and more measures cast from all levels of government. Despite more visibility and bridge building in our broader communities, we have been working in silos due to fear, perceived scarcity, and the need to survive.

Through three years of collaboration, MLFA and CAIR-CHI have had the opportunity to identify the gaps in the legal services both organizations are providing. In an effort to honor the needs of each American Muslim, the AMLE database portal will be an immediate support for Muslims seeking legal assistance and will allow us to close these gaps in access and resources.

With existing support from philanthropists and major philanthropic organizations including The Chicago Community Trust, the Marguerite Casey Foundation, the Butler Family Fund, Tides Foundation, Lever for Change and the Ann Arbor Area Community Foundation, the Muslim Collaboration Prizes will help build the capacity of Muslim-led nonprofits and create a better future for those they serve. The findings of the program were published in a study titled Muslims in America: A Year of Learning For the Philanthropic Community, with the purpose to bridge the gap between Muslim-led nonprofits and the philanthropic community.


About MLFA

Muslim Legal Fund of America (MLFA) is a 501 (c ) 3 nonprofit organization that funds legal work and programming to defend Muslims and Muslim organizations against injustice in American courtrooms, prisons, and communities. Muslim Legal Fund of America is the ONLY national tax-exempt nonprofit legal fund dedicated to defending Muslims’ civil rights and liberties at the federal level. Our mission is to advance equality and justice for American Muslim organizations and individuals by promoting legal compliance and protecting their rights in matters concerning national security law. Through its work, MLFA is committed to realizing the vision of an America in which constitutional rights and liberties are upheld equally for all, regardless of religion, ethnicity or cultural heritage.


Arshia Ali-Khan, CEO of MLFA | [email protected]


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