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Ground Breaking Study on Bay Area Muslim Community

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

On Tuesday, May 20, 2013, the San Francisco Chronicle published the following article: Muslims Become Part of Bay Area Fabric, which highlights a benchmark study that gives demographic data on the Bay Area’s growing Muslim community. The study, The Bay Area Muslim Study: Establishing Identity and Community, provides compelling data on the Bay Area Muslim community’s demographics, sense of identity, economic well-being, political and civic engagement, and the challenges it faces, such as eradicating Islamophobia.

Nearly 250,000 Muslims – one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the United States – live, work and contribute to the economies and communities of the Bay Area (3.5 percent of the area’s population); yet little is known about the demographics and issues that Bay Area Muslim communities face–issues that are often left under the radar.

On May 15th NCG members Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, the Marin Community Foundation, along with Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy hosted a funder briefing: “Inclusive Philanthropic Strategies and the Bay Area’s Diverse Muslim Populations” to shed light on the specific opportunities and challenges of this community by sharing data from this first-of-its-kind research study with other funders.

The study was prepared by the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding and funded by One Nation Bay Area, a partnership of the above-mentioned Bay Area organizations that aims to strengthen relationships between the region’s Muslims and non-Muslims.

Some highlights from the May 15th event include the following compelling pieces of data:

  • The Bay Area Muslim community is highly diverse across race; 30% are South Asian, 23% are Arabs, 17% are Afghans, 9% are African American, 7% are Asian/Pacific Islanders, 6% are white and 2% are Iranian.
  • Education attainment levels of Muslims are high; 41% age 25 or older have a B.A. or higher (16.3%).
  • There are major income disparities between the Muslim communities living and working in Silicon Valley and other bay area counties.

The major challenges for the Bay Area Muslim community include:

  • Islamophobia
  • Conflict in Muslim-Majority Counties
  • Media Portrayals of American Muslims

Finally a few takeaways and implications for philanthropy highlighted at the briefing:

  • The need for organizational capacity building grants; Muslim NGOs are often run on very lean volunteer staff and lack infrastructure
  • The need for social services to address the diverse needs of Bay Area Muslim communities (such as immigration services, drug abuse, post traumatic stress disorder)
  • The need for social services for the influx of Afghan refugees in this country
  • The need for more data to engage the funding community
  • The need to understand who is at the table and who is not
  • The need for NGO assistance in leveraging relationships with other funders and help with grant writing

To obtain a copy of the newly published study and executive summary, please follow the provided links.