Chicago social justice activist Rami Nashashibi, AM’98, PhD’11, was announced on Oct. 11 as one of the 24 winners of a prestigious MacArthur Foundation grant.
In its citation, the foundation honored Nashashibi for “confronting the challenges of poverty and disinvestment in urban communities through a Muslim-led civic engagement effort that bridges race, class and religion.”
Nashashibi is the founder and executive director of Inner-City Muslim Action Network, a nonprofit agency working across religious, ethnic, generational, income and other boundaries for social justice and human dignity on Chicago’s Southwest Side. IMAN was incorporated in 1997 and now has a $3 million annual budget. It operates a free community holistic health clinic, provides job training and transitional housing for formerly incarcerated men, develops youth leadership and civic engagement skills, and incorporates arts and cultural programming to inspire growth and change.
Unlike most winners who receive a phone call, Nashashibi was actually invited to the MacArthur Foundation offices under the pretense of a meeting on criminal justice. MacArthur President Julia Stasch then informed him he had won the award.
“I think then I went into a fog,” Nashashibi said. “It was very surreal disbelief that it was really happening. But I had a range of emotions—from not quite understanding the extent of it, to feeling profoundly grateful and humbled to be even considered.”