U.S. Muslim Creators Receive $6 Million Boost from Doris Duke Foundation

Notably, the Islamic Scholarship Fund was awarded $100,000 to nurture Muslim filmmakers through financial support, mentorships and experiential learning opportunities.

U.S. Muslim Creators Receive $6 Million Boost from Doris Duke Foundation
 The multi-million dollars in funding aims to propel U.S. Muslim creators, expanding their access to the entertainment industry and amplifying diverse narratives. Photo source: MPAC

Doris Duke Foundation announced at Sundance Film Festival that the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) has been selected as a 2024 grantee in support of the Artist Support Program. ISF was one of three grantees selected this year through the Foundation's Building Bridges Program, which funds U.S. nonprofit organizations that help to uplift Muslim storytelling across the arts and entertainment industry. The Artist Support Program aims to nurture Muslim filmmakers by offering financial support for their film projects, mentoring them and providing experiential learning opportunities in the entertainment industry.

The new Fellowship Program awards ISF with a $100,000 grant.

"We can't change what we think until Hollywood changes who and what we see,” said Sam Gill, President and CEO, Doris Duke Foundation. “These grants will spotlight the underlying causes of intolerance, and challenge them by bringing new and diverse stories, voices and perspectives into the entertainment industry that shapes our culture." 

"Since 2009, ISF has been at the forefront of supporting U.S. Muslim filmmakers and our dream has been to unapologetically amplify their voices, celebrate their talent and create space for them within the film industry," said ISF Director of Film Programs Iman Zawahry. "It is an honor to receive this grant from a trailblazing organization like Doris Duke to lift up our incredible storytellers — including our pilot fellows Samina Saifee, Fatimah Asghar, Colette Ghunim, Akram Shibly, Sherif Ibrahim and Samia Khan-Bambrah — and ensure that they secure a seat at the table." 

Doris Duke Foundation identifies organizations that advance its goals and provides funding through staff-curated grants, re-granting opportunities, as well as internal and external funding partnerships. The 2024 grantees underscore the power of creative stories and compelling storytellers in combating ongoing hate against U.S. Muslims, Asians, communities of color and Jewish people.

ISF will utilize this award to provide five filmmakers with production funds to complete their non-fiction and fiction projects this year. Another six filmmakers will have the opportunity to travel to the Sundance Film Festival for immersive learning and to network with entertainment leaders and peers.

Additional 2024 grantees include The Muslim House activations and convenings at Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and Tribeca Film Festival produced by The Muslim Public Affairs Council Hollywood Bureau with $1.425 million over three years to create meeting places for U.S. Muslim creators and cross-community entertainment industry professionals. Another grant will launching the U.S. Muslim Documentary Fund through the Center for Asian American Media with $4.5 million over three years.

Launched in 2007 to counter hate directed at U.S. Muslim communities in the United States in the aftermath of 9/11, Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program is the largest U.S. funding program of its kind. Through this program the Foundation has allocated over $46 million in grants to date aimed at fostering dialogue and understanding between communities with a focus on the voices and perspectives of U.S. Muslims. 

Over recent years, Doris Duke Foundation has begun to focus on the role of entertainment and popular culture to bring diverse communities together. This has included support for the 2023 Oscar-nominated film “Stranger at the Gate” (2022); the Pulitzer Prize-winning folk opera “Omar” (2022); “The Secret Life of Muslims” (2016–), a Peabody-nominated web series that has been viewed 45 million times; and the video game “1979 Revolution: Black Friday” (2016) by Navid Khonsari, which won a BAFTA, a Facebook award and recommended by UNESCO as a solution for conflict.

For more information about Doris Duke Foundation’s Building Bridges Program and grant opportunities, click here.

For more information about ISF, visit the link here

The mission of the Islamic Scholarship Fund (ISF) is to increase American Muslim representation in film, media and government, in order to improve public policy and public opinion and protect the rights of our community. ISF empowers the next generation of American Muslims through leadership development and funding to provide access to careers in film, media, government and the judicial system as a direct intervention to prevent Islamophobic policy and improve narratives about our community.

The mission of Doris Duke Foundation is to build a more creative, equitable and sustainable future by investing in artists and the performing arts, environmental conservation, medical research, child well-being and greater mutual understanding among diverse communities. Visit their website to learn more.

Through the Building Bridges Program, Doris Duke Foundation supports national efforts, working with U.S. Muslims to increase mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities. The program is anchored in the conviction that strategic use of the arts and media can help provide an effective social prescription for achieving this vision.

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