Kashif Shaikh

Oct 18, 2022

On Muslim Philanthropy and the Pillars Fund

A Discussion with Kashif Shaikh

New Books Network 2022

Kashif Shaikh is the Co-Founder and President of Pillars Fund. In 2010, Kashif and a small group of Muslim philanthropists founded Pillars to strategically organize wealth within their communities and support American Muslim civic institutions and leaders building a more just, equitable society. For the next five years, Kashif volunteered his time and resources to grow and lead Pillars. In 2016, he was asked to be Pillars’ first full-time executive director and transitioned Pillars from a volunteer-run fund to a fully operational foundation. Under his leadership, Pillars has invested more than $6 million in Muslim community organizations and initiatives to build collective power and transform what is possible for Muslims in the United States.

At the heart of Kashif’s career in philanthropy is a dedication to promoting racial equity and creating opportunities for Muslims and people of color to tell their stories through art. Prior to launching Pillars, Kashif was a program officer at the Robert R. McCormick Foundation, where he helped manage a portfolio of more than $20 million and helped scale a variety of Chicago nonprofits working at the intersection of racial justice, poverty, and education. He also managed the Foundation’s corporate partnerships and helped develop corporate social responsibility strategies for the Chicago Tribune, Chicago Blackhawks, and Chicago Bulls. His career began at the United Way of Metropolitan Chicago, where he developed strategies to engage the organization’s largest corporate partners.

Kashif’s expert insight on Muslims in philanthropy has been cited in The New York Times, Buzzfeed, and Chicago Sun Times, among others. He currently serves on the board of directors of the Peabody Awards, Chicago Humanities Festival, and Mortar, a nonprofit based in his home town of Cincinnati that helps entrepreneurs from historically marginalized communities access resources to start and run successful businesses. He has been named a Philanthropy Forward Fellow by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group, a New Profit Civic Lab Entrepreneur, and an Ambassadors for Health Equity Fellow. In 2017, Crain’s Chicago Business named him to their 40 Under 40 list.

Kashif holds a BA from Ohio State University and MA from Northwestern University

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