In our latest grantee spotlight, we got the chance to speak with the executive director of the Arab American Civic Council (AACC), Rashad Al-Dabbagh. AACC is encourages civic engagement in the Greater Los Angeles area through community organizing, advocacy, leadership development, cultural outreach, and cultivating partnerships with other communities. Continue reading to learn more about AACC and its work.
CAAP: Can you tell us about some recent accomplishments at the AACC?
AACC: The AACC’s accomplishments are a source of pride to our staff and volunteers who have devoted their time and energy to seeing the success it is today. In less than 4 years, the AACC has become the leading and most effective Arab American advocacy organization in Southern California. Among the variety of accomplishments that AACC is proud of:
- Our advocacy on behalf of refugees in Orange County and the Greater LA Area had a positive impact on how the wider community and specially elected officials view the refugee community. Additionally, we served more than 100 refugees at our Refugee Resource Fair hosted in partnership with World Relief last year.
- By encouraging our community members to engage with the city council, the city of Santa Ana issued a resolution opposing President Trump’s executive order to ban refugees and immigrants from 7 Muslim majority countries.
- Following our successful inaugural Arab American Heritage Gala in 2016, two cities proclaimed April as Arab American Heritage Month. Further, due to our advocacy work, the State of California proclaimed April 2017 as Arab American Heritage Month.
CAAP: Thats incredible! What are some exciting, upcoming initiatives?
AACC: We just completed our bilingual (English/Arabic) Refugees Welcome Guidebook, a multi-platform hyper-local guide for refugees arriving in the Greater Los Angeles Area. The guidebook, which offers a comprehensive guide on what to do upon arrival to the U.S, supports refugee resettlement by helping refugees navigate and feel at home in Southern California.
CAAP: Can you talk about the AACC’s role in empowering the Arab American community?
AACC: The Arab American Civic Council is a grassroots community organization dedicated to empowering the Arab American community in Southern California through civic engagement, community organizing, leadership development, cultural empowerment and shifting public narrative. Ways in which we promote engagement include organizing voter registration campaigns, town hall meetings and candidate forums to address community needs and issues. well as media campaigns to help shift negative perceptions, attitudes and behaviors towards immigrant and other vulnerable communities, and pitch positive story ideas to reporters with local and national media outlets.
Thanks to CAAP funding, AACC will be able to organize a 2018 Advocacy Day next year to engage state legislators on issues concerning Arab Americans in the State of California; and, building off the success of our inaugural Arab American Heritage Gala, we hope to expand our efforts to officially recognize April as Arab American Heritage Month in more cities, and eventually the entire State of California.
Thanks Rashad for your time – CAAP is happy to support the important advocacy work of Arab American Civic Council!