Crisis Response and Infrastructure Support for Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian Communities in Light of Escalating Hate

RTF Request for Support - Proteus Fund


RISE Together Fund grantees have reported experiencing a nationwide wave of anti-Palestinian, anti-Arab, and anti-Muslim hate, intimidation, censorship, and government suppression in response to community advocacy and protests of the ongoing siege, bombardment, and humanitarian crisis in Gaza. And although Palestinian, Arab, and Muslim communities have felt the brunt of this current wave of violence, Sikh and other South Asian communities are also experiencing the ripple effects of anti-Arab and anti-Muslim animus in the U.S. For many, the current atmosphere of fear, surveillance, and suspicion is reminiscent of the environment that shrouded BAMEMSA communities in the aftermath of 9/11. In just two weeks, field leaders fear that two decades of community-led progress, solidarity, and narrative change designed to reverse the harmful effects of post-9/11 War on Terror discrimination was swiftly dismantled and BAMEMSA communities are left reeling, isolated, and vulnerable. This situation has laid bare the impact of years of underinvestment in the BAMEMSA field.

Despite it all, BAMEMSA movements are building and planning. Over the years, they’ve grown their community power and achieved decades-old goals, reminding us that even in this moment, their story is not about villainization and victimization alone. It is about profound progress – progress that can only be achieved with the dedicated long-term support of philanthropy.

Escalating Violence and Targeting

In order to understand the path ahead, we must understand the current environment. The list below, although not comprehensive, describes the types of challenges facing our collective communities today.

Physical Violence and Threats:
• In Illinois, a six-year-old Palestinian-American child, Wadea Al-Fayoume, was murdered and his mother was seriously injured after their landlord ambushed them in their home while yelling Islamophobic rhetoric (CAIR; NY Times)
• In Colorado, a gunman shot into the home of a Palestinian-American family; leading up to the shooting, their business had received multiple death threats (ADC; CBS News)
• In New York City, a 19-year-old Sikh man was physically assaulted on a city bus; as seen post-9/11, the rise in Islamophobia often impacts Sikh communities (NBC News)
• In Boston, the Islamic Seminary of Boston and the Palestinian Cultural Center for Peace were vandalized with the word “Nazis” scrawled on its signs (NBC Boston)
• Anti-Palestinian attacks on protests have become commonplace, including in Illinois where a crowd was pepper sprayed and shots fired in the air (CBS News)

Mass Intimidation and Retaliation:
• Pro-Palestinian students across the country, including Harvard students, are being targeted by a mass doxxing campaigns in response to statements and letters they’ve signed; major business leaders are also calling for students to be identified and blacklisted, while politicians call for them to be deported (CBS News) (Vanity Fair)
• In Austin, students at the Palestine Solidarity Committee at the University of Texas were harassed and called terrorists during a seminar session (CAIR-Texas; KXAN Austin)
• Without evidence, the Anti-Defamation League is actively urging 200 universities to investigate Students for Palestine Justice for “potential violations of the prohibition against materially supporting a foreign terrorist organization.” (The Nation)

Media Dis/Misinformation and Censorship:
• FoxNews labeled students who staged a walkout at Crestwood High School in Dearborn Heights, which has a high Arab-American student body, as “pro-terrorist” (Yahoo News)
• FoxNews and other prominent news outlets falsely claiming that Hamas and Hezbollah could be crossing the U.S./Mexico border, cultivating fear-mongering (VICE)
• Instagram inserted the word “terrorist” into the bios of some users that tried to display the words Palestine and “alhamdulillah”, which means “praise be to God”; the company has since claimed it as an auto-translation bug (The Guardian)
• Pro-Palestinian platforms and voices have been suppressed across social media, including content takedowns, account restrictions, and banning (The Guardian)

Government Overreach and Abuse:
• Federal law enforcement, including the FBI and ICE, have questioned and detained Palestinian nationals and made visits to mosques (The Intercept)
• In New York City, local councilwoman Inna Vernikov brought and displayed a firearm at a pro-Palestine protest at Brooklyn College after expressing her opposition to the event (NY Times)
• House Republicans introduced a bill prohibiting the federal government from issuing visas to those with Palestinian Authority passports (NBCNews)
• In Florida, Governor Ron DeSantis issued a directive to all public universities to disband chapters of Students for Justice in Palestine (AP)
• Similar to Muslim charities targeted after 9/11 by the federal government, Virginia’s attorney general announced an investigation into American Muslims for Palestine citing concerns about “material support”, which will have a chilling effect on the entire sector (The Hill)

Meeting the Moment and Supporting the Field Into the Future

As the ripple effects of this crisis continue, the impact on BAMEMSA communities in the U.S. will undoubtedly worsen without immediate action. Already, RTF has recognized the urgent need for BAMEMSA field coordination, safety and security interventions, legal support, messaging, and mobilization efforts. While we tend to this current crisis, we recognize that there are infrastructure gaps and challenges that are making this moment even harder for the field – limited resources, boom or bust funding trends, and finite capacity. This emergency underscores the crucial need for long-term infrastructure scaling so that BAMEMSA communities are not forced into a position of rebuilding whenever crises strike. We are seeking sustained support over the next five years to address the following immediate and long-term community-identified needs through increased grantmaking and field programming to:

1. Mobilize legal resources and advocacy, including:

Rapid Response:
• Fortifying the BAMEMSA legal advocacy infrastructure to respond to immediate threats against BAMEMSA communities, including heightened surveillance practices, bans on gatherings and protests, FBI overreach and questioning, and K-12 advocacy;
• Resourcing organizations engaged in know-your-rights trainings to support students, activists, and others experiencing censorship, intimidation, and government profiling;
• Resourcing organizations to support coordinated legal intake to meet the current demands for advice and representation; and
• Resourcing legal organizations that connect attorneys to those facing discrimination, including lost educational and employment opportunities due to their identity or protest.

Long-term Support and Infrastructure:
• Expanding the capacity of legal programs; and
• Resourcing the intake systems and coordination of the field’s various legal advocacy organizations, formations, and programs.

2. Expand digital and physical security, safety, and wellness, including:

Rapid Response:
• Expanding the field’s access to digital security support through Equality Labs and other digital security services, and physical security support through Vision Change Win, including support against transnational attacks;
• Contracting directly with DeleteMe and other services and providing access to ensure cost is not a barrier to security; and
• Resourcing the field with wellness and mental health services.

Long-term Support and Infrastructure:
• Building field capacity to identify and advocate against online censorship, shadow banning, mis- and disinformation campaigns through tech company advocacy, and identifying, mapping, and providing critical analysis and intervention related to online harms; and
• Building field capacity and expertise within organizations to ensure the timely administration of physical and digital security measures recommended through Vision Change Win and Equality Labs security audits.

3. Support crisis communications, strategic communications, and media accountability and narrative change efforts, including:

Rapid Response:
• Supporting community organizations fighting dis/misinformation campaigns and biased messaging online, in print and on the air; and
• Supporting ReThink Media in conducting message testing to ensure effective messaging.

Long-term Support and Infrastructure:
• Strengthening ReThink Media’s ability to support the entire BAMEMSA field with guidance, messaging, prepared statements, and journalist engagement; and
• Building organizational capacity and expertise field-wide to sustain ongoing strategic communications and narrative change.

4. Strengthen policy advocacy & organizing efforts and coordination, including:

Rapid Response
• Supporting organizations to coordinate their efforts through RISE Organizing, RTF’s online convening space that currently includes representatives from 150 organizations, and resource key organizations to serve as community anchors in the areas of research, policy advocacy, communications, legal resources, and digital and physical security; and
• Resourcing organizations fighting new and existing discriminatory policies.

Long-term Support and Infrastructure
• Investing in RTF’s role as a neutral and natural convener to ensure a coordinated, communicative, and healthy field:
• Expanding the policy advocacy infrastructure of the field and implementing recommendations based on RTF’s recent research project: and
• Supporting organizations as they reimagine their advocacy and programming to the new challenges and threats.


RTF seeks $1,500,000 a year over the next five years to grow the capacity of grassroots BAMEMSA organizations responding to the immediate crisis, responding to future crises. and to build long-term infrastructure to further protect community rights, advance policy reforms, enhance field coordination, and shift the narrative now and into the future. To ensure our grantees are well-supported and able to work efficiently, we seek to distribute funding through annual and multi-year general operating grants, when possible, as well as expand RTF’s menu of capacity-building programming.

Rapid Response – Grant Making and Programmatic Support Annual Project Budget Full Project Budget
Digital and physical safety, and wellness $75,000 $375,000
Legal advocacy infrastructure, coordination, and direct services $200,000 $1,000,000
Communications, message testing and infrastructure $75,000 $375,000
Policy advocacy and organizing $150,000 $750,000
TOTAL: $500,000 $2,500,000
Long-term Infrastructure Support – Grant Making and Programmatic Annual Project Budget Full Project Budget
Digital and physical safety and wellness $200,000 $1,000,000
Legal advocacy infrastructure, coordination, and direct services $300,000 $1,500,000
Strategic communications, messaging, and infrastructure $200,000 $1,000,000
Policy advocacy and organizing $300,000* $1,500,000*
TOTAL: $1,000,000 $5,000,000

(This is a shifting environment—the detailed budget may change.)


$1,500,000 (1 year)


$7,500,000 (5 years)

*To discuss the c4 needs of the BAMEMSA field not included here please reach out to Rana Elmir at


About Rise Together Fund

RISE Together Fund, an initiative of Proteus Fund, is the only national donor collaborative exclusively dedicated to supporting the Black, African, Arab, Middle Eastern, Muslim, and South Asian (BAMEMSA) movements to build a just, inclusive, and multiracial democracy. RTF was founded in 2008 in response to escalating anti-Muslim targeting, hate crimes, surveillance, detention and deportation, and xenophobia.

We partner with funders across disciplines to help build community power and provide philanthropy entry points to supporting BAMEMSA communities and movements. We directly connect funders to activists and organizers whose work is often overlooked and, at times, undervalued. Our field-building model enhances collaboration, accelerates action, and documents needs and gaps to support the growth and connectivity of the BAMEMSA movements. By leveraging over a decade of experience in BAMEMSA movements and carrying the trust of activists and organizations, RTF plays a vital role as funder, facilitator, convener, and connector for movements and philanthropy alike.
RTF’s grantmaking and programming spans 18 states, granting more than $21 million and reaching more than 500 organizations since its inception. Each year, RTF and RISE Together Action Fund (RTAF), RTF’s c4 partner organization, deploy between $2 million and $3 million in grantmaking — including core support, rapid response, opportunity and convening, and civic engagement fellowship grants.

RTF’s grantmaking and supportive programming falls into four overlapping areas:
1. Building an inclusive and representative democracy through community power-building;
2. Amplifying the impact of historically marginalized voices within BAMEMSA movements;
3. Building the infrastructure and interconnectedness of BAMEMSA movements; and
4. Growing understanding of BAMEMSA movements within the philanthropy sector.

Contact Us

If you’d like to learn more about RTF’s work or this request for support, please reach out to Rana Elmir, RTF Program Director, at or Zahra Ali, RTF Strategic Partnerships Officer, at