At Zakat Chicago, we are always looking for opportunities to improve our assistance to the community. We know that there are plenty of areas in Chicago that are underserved and that desperately require help to obtain the most basic of services. No one group can handle all of the needs in the community by itself. Yet there are numerous remarkable organizations in our community whose sole purpose lies in serving a particular and essential function. These organizations have the best of intentions, but quite often lack proper funding. The role of Zakat Chicago is to evaluate their needs, rigorously evaluate their potential, and facilitate the distribution of funds – to get help to where it is most needed.
Zakat Chicago partners with various Masajid and centers to determine the need in their specific underprivileged communities. We then provide a lump sum of Zakat funds to distribute amongst Muslims in that community. These funds are used for the most basic of needs – such as food, shelter, and clothing. All of these centers are located in low-income areas where zakat is desperately needed. The current primary distribution centers are:
Zam’s Hope is a community resource center serving the underprivileged community on the north side of Chicago. Located in the Devon/ Rogers Park area, this growing organization provides countless worthy services, including emergency food assistance, crisis intervention, rental assistance for victims of domestic abuse, emergency financial assistance, employment referrals, child care, youth tutoring and mentoring, senior citizen support, and many more. Zakat Chicago provides support solely for zakat-eligible causes – namely elderly citizens in need, and families experiencing financial emergencies. Zakat Chicago is proud to support ZAM’s Hope primarily because this organization’s core values rest on instilling proactive behavior when individuals are faced with difficulties. For more information, please visit www.zamshope.net.
In partnership with the Inner-City Muslim Action Network (IMAN), Zakat Chicago supports a half-way house for released Muslim prisoners as they try to regain their footing in the community. This project provides housing, job training, and support for formerly incarcerated Muslim men. Introduced in 2007 as one part of the “two-pronged strategy” of Project Restore, this transitional housing facility also contributes towards the overall goal to “reduce mass incarceration and provide alternative sentencing for non-violent drug offenders.” In providing the framework for a second chance at getting their life together, the work of IMAN in the face of the ongoing tragedies in Chicago is a beacon of hope. To learn more, go tohttp://www.imancentral.org/organizing-advocacy/community-safe-zone/transitional-housing/
The Inner-city Muslim Action Network (IMAN) recognizes the difficulties of inner-city life, but it also sees the many resources available when people work together for the betterment of society. The perfect example of this would be with the development of the IMAN Health Clinic and Administrative Center. This remarkable clinic is staffed by a full-time medical director, lab technician, health care administer, and over 25 volunteer physicians, nurses, and medical students. They offer no-cost primary health care and support services, which include treatment for chronic and acute conditions, screenings, and preventive care services. Seeing an organization driven by the “spiritual ideals of community service, social justice, and human compassion,” Zakat Chicago was happy provide partial funding for the medical equipment for the startup. For more information, please visithttp://www.imancentral.org/services/health-clinic/
The Compassionate Care Network (CCN) was founded in 2004 by three doctors from Chicago – Drs. Ayesha Sultana, Azher Quader, and M. Gafoor. This non-profit organization provides low cost health care for the uninsured and also performs free healthcare screenings around the area. CCN is currently providing healthcare for over 2,500 residents of Illinois. They cover areas such as Dentistry, Physical Therapy, Podiatry, Optometry, and Chiropractic care. Their patients have access to a network of 120+ physicians, 13 imaging centers and 6 medical labs. CCN regularly holds CPR training courses, weight management workshops, blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity screenings, and a myriad of other health services that the local Muslim community with little means may not have access to otherwise. Zakat Chicago provides support to CCN patitents by paying for the co-pay of those zakat-eligible individuals who require such assistance. Visit http://www.ccnamerica.com/
Although the poverty rate of Muslims in the Chicagoland area is alarming, the number of organizations that were created to provide sustenance to members of our community is inspiring. In the suburbs of Illinois, inner-city Chicago, and everywhere in between, hunger is a reality for too many people. That is why Zakat Chicago is proud to help support the noble organizations that work to eliminate poverty and hunger, including the Urban Muslim Minority Alliance (UMMA Center) in Lake County, Ministry of the Faithful to God in Washington Park, Chicago; Masjid al Kabah in the south side of Chicago, and SANAD in Chicago . In the past, Zakat Chicago helped fund the IMAN Food Pantry, a facility that provided food and basic household supplies to the underprivileged throughout Chicago. Through Zakat Chicago’s collaborative efforts with each of these organizations, they have been able to receive the necessary funds to provide their services to members of their community. With the support of our Muslim community, Zakat Chicago has provided funding to every Muslim food pantry that required financial assistance to meet the needs of the community. Today, 100% of all of the Muslim food pantries in Chicago are fully funded.
Muslim Women’s Alliance (MWA) is a reputable organization that works with various other groups in the areas of philanthropy, community service, and personal development. MWA has hosted personal development sessions such as marriage seminars, “Meet the Author “series, and interfaith activities with various Jewish and Christian organizations. By collaborating with other charitable organization such as CAMP, UMMA, Arab American Family Services, and Hamdard, they have been able to help raise money for the needy, increase breast cancer and domestic violence awareness, as well as bring to the roundtable many other important social issues affecting Muslim women and the Muslim community at large. One of MWA’s most beneficial initiatives is the Ramadan Rush for Rewards campaign in which numerous community service events take place for the month of Ramadan. Zakat Chicago has helped support part one of Ramadan Rush for Reward, the “Welcome Ramadan Food Baskets for Needy Families” event. At this impactful experience, gift baskets including dates, rice, meats, and other basic food items are prepared in various locations throughout Illinois. Then these baskets are given to various Masajids in the Chicagoland area to distribute to needy members of their community. For more information, please visit www.mwachicago.org.
CMECCA is a fully accredited elementary school which has served the residents of south side Chicago. Because CMECCA understands how easy it is for today’s youth to fall prey to the many distractions they face, it also offers weekend school, mentoring programs, as well as sport programs. These organizations work hard to provide the minority youth community with a faith-based education rooted in Islamic values, Quranic studies, Arabic studies, and healthy recreational activities. Their continuous effort to eradicate prevalent socio-economic issues through a hands-on approach is an inspiration. Zakat Chicago is proud to partner with an organization that has exemplified our Islamic principles through their ready compassion. Please firstname.lastname@example.org for more information or visit their website ldicmecca.com.
Coordinated between the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, or CIOGC, and south side organizations, youth and family summer camps are supported through Zakat funding to provide important religious educational opportunities and retreats for underprivileged youth and the minority community. Often times held at Camp White Eagle in Leaf River, Illinois, Council Youth Coordinators work with their young campers in order to instill Islam into their thoughts and actions. Besides partaking in fun and adventure by hiking and climbing through the area, members “sharpened their faith through group prayer, workshops, discussions, and God centered campfires.” The South Side Summer Camp is a confidence builder, teaching kids the importance of teamwork, coordination, and above all, building good character. For more information, please visit http://www.ciogc.org/Go.aspx?link=7654673.
Oftentimes, post-secondary education is overlooked as a zakat donation. However, Zakat Chicago recognizes the powerful impact of an education, including the opportunities that are available for an educated Muslim in the U.S. Located in Rolling Meadows, Illinois, Northwest Suburban College is the first Muslim college dedicated to secular education in North America. With zakat funds, NSC is able to provide grants and scholarships for zakat-eligible students—students who would otherwise have no means of obtaining an education. Zakat Chicago and NSC work together to enhance our community members’ educational opportunities and empower individuals to stand on their own. For more information, please visitwww.northwestsuburbancollege.com.
Radio Islam is North America’s first and only daily talk show produced by Muslims for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. Just turn on AM 1480 to hear for yourself a broadcast with accurate information on Islam, insightful political rhetoric, and opportunities for Dawah. Programs like News & Muslim Views, Family Matters, Desert Reflections, Scholars’ View, Public Affairs, Poet’s Pen, and much more allow something for everyone to listen to and learn something from. With its base in the non-profit Sound Vision Foundation, Radio Islam has functioned through an innovative medium to dispel common stereotypes about Muslims and Islam. Be sure to listen to the station for daily programs, stories, interviews, nasheed programs, and much more. For further information, visit http://www.radioislam.com/.