Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund envisions a United States where Sikh Americans are respected and recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of this nation and are appreciated for our shared values of service, social justice, and an unshakeable belief in freedom and equality

Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund envisions a United States where Sikh Americans are respected and recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of this nation and are appreciated for our shared values of service, social justice, and an unshakeable belief in freedom and equality for all. Through legal referral services, legislative advocacy, cultivating educational resources to inform schools/media about Sikhs, and community outreach programs, we help build community power amongst our community. SALDEF is the nation's oldest Sikh American civil rights organization. Founded in 1996, SALDEF has continued to safeguard the civil rights of Sikh Americans while ensuring equal access, protection, and opportunity in the United States for future generations. We are applying for this grant to develop a new program entitled the National Sikh Youth Council (NSYC). Sikh youth have been at the forefront of organizing, but have not been able to successfully consolidate these efforts at a national level. NSYC will be a platform to provide resources to and create coalitions between Sikh youth organizers from across the country. The NSYC is born out of one of SALDEF's flagship programs, SikhLEAD. SikhLEAD inspires, trains, and supports young Sikhs by placing them in public service internships and hosting leadership development workshops and events. By offering community organizing training and creating a national community of action oriented young Sikhs, the NSYC will be endowed with a mission to equip young people with the tools to amplify their impact.

About the Organization:

The Sikh American Legal Defense and Education Fund envisions a United States where Sikh Americans are respected and recognized as a vibrant and integral part of the fabric of this nation and are appreciated for our shared values of service, social justice, and an unshakeable belief in freedom and equality for all. Through legal referral services, legislative advocacy, cultivating educational resources to inform schools/media about Sikhs, and community outreach programs, we help build community power amongst our community. SALDEF is the nation's oldest Sikh American civil rights organization. Founded in 1996, SALDEF has continued to safeguard the civil rights of Sikh Americans while ensuring equal access, protection, and opportunity in the United States for future generations. We are applying for this grant to develop a new program entitled the National Sikh Youth Council (NSYC). Sikh youth have been at the forefront of organizing, but have not been able to successfully consolidate these efforts at a national level. NSYC will be a platform to provide resources to and create coalitions between Sikh youth organizers from across the country. The NSYC is born out of one of SALDEF's flagship programs, SikhLEAD. SikhLEAD inspires, trains, and supports young Sikhs by placing them in public service internships and hosting leadership development workshops and events. By offering community organizing training and creating a national community of action oriented young Sikhs, the NSYC will be endowed with a mission to equip young people with the tools to amplify their impact.

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

26-30 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California • Oregon • Washington

organizational budget

$1 MILLION - $2 MILLION

existence for

26-30 YEARS

Organization benefits AAPIs residing in the following state(s):

California • Oregon • Washington

The Issue:

In August 2022, SALDEF planned and executed the 10-year anniversary of the shooting at Oak Creek. We planned a workshop on youth empowerment with the local community. There, we noticed a desire amongst young Sikhs to find more ways to build political power in our community. Regionally, young Sikhs have created organizations (everything from college clubs to nonprofits focusing on local needs of Sikh youth). These organizations do incredible work, but many of these young leaders often struggle to scale their impact given that they lack mentorship, tangible resources, and large platforms. Having talked to hundreds of these young leaders, we have noticed a palpable desire for a national platform to build community action efforts amongst Sikh youth. Almost every other major faith community has a national youth action organization that provides young people with the resources and opportunities to make their voices heard on issues that affect them. Young Sikhs face everything from bullying in classrooms, racial profiling, restricting of our articles of faith, hate crimes, and more; however, there still exists a lack of space to organize together on these issues. According to a variety of studies Sikh youth face some of the highest rates of mental health issues and bullying/harassment. The NSYC outlines an avenue to change and in so doing, gives young Sikhs peers and mentors to rely on. Sharing resources and coordinating efforts unlock endless opportunities for expansive change at all levels of government. Born out of this need comes The National Sikh Youth Council (NSYC). SALDEF is perfectly positioned to build this given that it is an established history of youth empowerment and is connected to stakeholders at local, state, and federal levels. As of now, there is no outlet for which Sikh youth have a national space for organizing and bringing forth the policy/advocacy issues that matter to us. This is why we have a unique opportunity to build out a youth arm of SALDEF to not just train Sikh youth but give them a larger national platform to create and execute impactful campaigns with the guidance of national civil rights leaders.

The Solution:

The NSYC would operate in two major ways. Firstly, it would be a hub for organizational connection, resource sharing, and SALDEF support for existing Sikh youth organizations like university student associations and other youth-led community organizations. Whether it be providing a national platform to help amplify their work or connecting them to resources SALDEF has access to, the Council would provide a space to bring youth together. All of these organizations would be part of the National Sikh Youth Council, getting the opportunity to buy in to the extent they desire. Each organization will have one representative that attends monthly council meetings to share their work as well as to hear about other work the NSYC is doing. Secondly, the NSYC will operate its own projects and initiatives in partnership with SALDEF. Other organizations that are part of the council will participate in the initiatives to help give national grounding to the campaigns through a grassroots approach. The council will be run by officers who will help facilitate programming to bring the various member organizations together while also helping define national campaigns that would be run with SALDEF support. Additionally, we will open membership to young Sikhs across the country. General members will join working groups for planning out the initiatives that the officers help ideate/envision. These projects will include everything from policy advocacy campaigns, Sikh voter outreach, building space for national dialogues on Sikh mental health, planning regional conferences to connect youth, and providing professional development opportunities - this only scratches the surface. The NSYC comes with a built-in infrastructure to build these campaigns by means of the various member organizations. Moreover, this structure would aid in responding to immediate action needs as they arise in the world (i.e. building efforts in response to hate crime outbreaks, shootings, individual cases, etc.)

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