South Asian Americans, who trace their ancestry to India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, the Maldives and the South Asian diaspora, are one of the fastest growing populations in the U.S. With large concentrations in cities like New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. and Houston, it’s no surprise that these communities have built active organizations that address a wide range of concerns. From discrimination to housing, here are five organizations that are fighting to make a difference.
Founded in 2000, DRUM addresses issues facing South Asian low-wage immigrant workers and youth in New York City. The organization boasts a multigenerational membership with representation from Pakistan, Afghanistan, India, Bangladesh, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Trinidad, Bhutan and Guyana. Programs range from helping undocumented workers in service industries organize to leadership training for young South Asians.
Also founded in 2000, Chhaya CDC is a nonprofit that works to improve housing conditions for New York City’s South Asian community. In addition to community organizing projects and workshops aimed at housing preservation, the organization has programs that help train, educate and prepare clients for job opportunities. Chhaya CDC recently partnered with Charter Communications to open a Spectrum Learning Lab in Jackson Heights that provides access to technology and offers computer skills training.
The Sikh Coalition began as a volunteer organization that addressed the wave of hate crimes targeted against the Sikh community in the immediate aftermath of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Since then, it’s grown into a national network with offices in New York City, Washington, D.C., the San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles and Chicago. The nonprofit has a Legal Program that litigates matters addressing discrimination, as well as a community development program that focuses on civic engagement.
SAALT is a national nonprofit that addresses the social justice needs of South Asian Americans. SAALT holds a National South Asian Summit biannually to connect activists from various South Asian backgrounds and to address the diverse range of issues facing the community. April’s gathering focused on “the rise in hate violence, xenophobic rhetoric, and anti-immigrant sentiment that have escalated to unprecedented levels.” SAALT also coordinates the National Coalition of South Asian Organizations, a network of community-based organizations that work to strengthen voices on a local and national level.
Sakhi, which means “woman friend,” was formed in 1989 by five South Asian women who wanted to end violence against women in their communities. The organization serves women from India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal and the South Asian Diaspora. They use a two-pronged approach to combat domestic violence, which includes creating a safe space for the diverse group of women they serve, and working to mobilize and engage communities around the issue.