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Council on American-Islamic Relations Empowers Muslim Families in Washington

May 01, 2020

Council on American-Islamic Relations Washington to Retain Staff

As we navigate the Paycheck Protection Program, the $669B business loan carve-out of the CARES Act, we’ve been able to take stock of what has happened broadly in the market and how we can continue to help our clients during this time. Some have expressed concern about large corporations exploiting loopholes and tapping the Paycheck Protection Program intended for small businesses. Others have pointed out how larger institutions are more equipped to navigate the technical and operational complexities of the SBA’s loan fulfillment channel, or how the funds should be better allocated to financial services providers such as CDFIs that specialize in serving traditionally marginalized populations.

Despite the program’s challenges, the team at Beneficial State Bank was able to help nearly 1,000 small organizations employing over 15,000 people, many of which are nonprofits and B Corporations, to secure Paycheck Protection loans. Most of these entities are true small businesses with 10 or fewer staff members. Over 85% are mission-aligned with Beneficial State’s social and environmental directives. We are shining a light on the positive work these organizations are doing as well as sharing how you can make a difference by supporting them.

Team photo of the Council on American-Islamic Relations

Council on American-Islamic Relations - Washington

CAIR Washington works daily to defend against anti-Muslim hate, empowering Muslim families, youth, children, and elders to amplify their voice through mainstream media and lobbying to build results-focused relationships with leaders in business, academia, labor, faith, and government. The Council on American-Islamic Relations is America’s largest Islamic civil liberties group, with regional offices nationwide that stand as their own separate 501(c)(3) organizations. Their mission is to enhance understanding of Islam, protect civil rights, promote justice, and empower American Muslims. CAIR Washington is the state chapter of CAIR that serves the needs of Muslim Washingtonians.

CAIR is proactive in policy work to limit recurring issues of discrimination. They have fought the Muslim Ban, which became sanctioned by the Supreme Court in June of 2018. Half of all of their legal battles for the past year have been immigration cases, including a recent high-profile case in which over 150 Iranian-American citizens were detained at the US-Canadian border.

They also fight stereotypes about Muslims. “Oftentimes, given depictions in the media, you’d think all Muslims are Arab,” says Masih Fouladi, Executive Director of CAIR-WA. “But 32% of Muslims born in the US are black, and the largest-growing Muslim community is Latin American.”

CAIR Washington left their large bank in search of a values-aligned, service-oriented provider. They chose Beneficial State for its community approach to banking. When the Paycheck Protection Program was announced, CAIR-WA reached out to their Relationship Manager, Stacey Krynsky, to lead them through the application process. Their largest fundraising period, the month of Ramadan, was swiftly approaching. Without the ability to hold public events to raise working capital, CAIR-WA would only be able to afford to pay one-third of its current staff. A Paycheck Protection loan was their best hope. "I know all the banks were handed a terrible situation without clear instructions or a path forward, and everyone had to really do their best to put in policies to effectively roll this out,” Fouladi shared. “We appreciated Stacey, and Beneficial State Bank, so much, because without you all, I think we would really not know where the next paychecks were going to be coming from."

What they are doing to help with COVID-19

CAIR Washington is taking an organized, four-pronged approach to help with COVID-19 relief efforts.

First, they have created guides to direct community members to resources. They have produced a comprehensive COVID Community Resource Guide covering employment, food, funerals, healthcare, personal finances, rent/utilities, school/childcare, and student loans. It also includes resources from other Muslim organizations. When the stimulus bill was announced, CAIR-WA produced a guide to the CARES Act for their members.

Second, CAIR-WA has opened its legal hotline—formerly limited to discrimination issues—to help direct community members to resources such as unemployment assistance, food, housing, and burial information. Given the diversity of the Muslim community, including a significant immigrant population, access to information in a variety of languages has been an issue. CAIR volunteers have walked callers through government forms and resources when the agencies that release the forms cannot provide translations.

Third, CAIR is harnessing volunteer support for their coalition partners. During Ramadan, organizations will be giving out food, which requires labor. Connecting available volunteers with these organizations will help give community members access to pre-dawn and post-dusk meals (suhur and iftar).

Finally, the organization is providing online programming twice a week to support community members, organizations, and mosques. These webinars focus on topics such as housing, applying for the PPP loans, mental and spiritual health, and the census.

How you can help

CAIR Washington is looking for help in both the short and long term. The organization has started a GoFundMe page to launch their Immigrant Rights Center. The Center will offer free comprehensive immigration services right from the CAIR office in Seattle, including citizenship applications, adjustment of status, family petitions, asylum, temporary protected status, and employment authorization. CAIR anticipates that when travel restrictions lighten, they will see a significant uptick in immigration cases as there was a recent expansion in the number of countries impacted by the Muslim Ban. They want to build the necessary resources for the Center before that happens.

To volunteer, visit CAIR-WA’s Get Involved page, become a member, or be an ally. You can follow CAIR-WA on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

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