City of Big Stories - Annual Report 2011

Anas Osman  

Active Participation

The Pillars Fund strives to promote civic engagement among Muslim Americans.


With more than 400,000 Muslim Americans living in metropolitan Chicago, Anas Osman is doing his part to ensure they have a voice in the region's civic life. He and four other business executives created the Pillars Fund, a donor advised fund at The Chicago Community Trust designed to foster civic engagement and promote a better understanding of the Muslim-American culture.

"We see the need to be more involved in a variety of capacities," says Osman, director of strategy and sales operations for the Americas at Google. "And so we want to support organizations that are involved in the public square so to speak."

Pillars of the Community

Since 2011, the Pillars Fund has awarded grants to nonprofit organizations that help Muslim Americans take part in social, political and religious spheres of influence. For example, it has supported the Inner-City Muslim Action Network and the Islamic Networks Group.

Interfaith Youth Core has also received support from the Pillars Fund. "Interfaith Youth Core promotes a unique form of social-religious pluralism that is important to us because we have so much in common with the good work of so many other faiths," Osman says. "And we feel that what they're doing promotes exactly the type of sentiment that we know most American Muslims share, which is to promote the common good here in America."

Osman and the other members of the fund have partnered with like-minded organizations to raise money. They raised $125,000 to earn a matching grant from One Chicago, One Nation, a project that brings together Chicagoans of diverse faiths and cultures. The Trust is a partner in this community initiative.

"We want to continue to try to find matching-fund partners or donors because what we would like for all of us to walk away with is a sense of leverage in the impact that we can have by working together as a group by increasing the amount given," Osman says.

Credible Advantage

Osman also believes the Pillars Fund maximizes its impact by housing the fund at the Trust. "The Trust brand is unassailable," Osman says. "When we give a grant from the Pillars Fund, which ultimately emanates from The Chicago Community Trust, even though it is a donor advised fund, I think there's a greater sense on the part of the receiving charity to honor that donation and to come back next year and the year after and try to improve what they did. So I think it does lend a greater weight beyond the dollars. It makes our dollars greener for lack of a better word."


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