Different chapters ultimately have different needs. It is important, early on, that you properly assess the need for a chapter in your community and the ways in which a chapter could best serve these needs. Listed below are some suggestions that should help you in assessing the need for a chapter in your community.
- Contact local institutions (churches, mosques, social and cultural groups, human and civil rights organizations, etc.) about access to a variety of constituencies.
- Draw on different segments of society (students, business people,
professionals, housewives, religious/ethnic, etc.)
This last suggestion is very important as any local chapter usually begins with a person or a small group of people committed to organizing the chapter. If you are beginning alone, your first task is to bring together 5-10 people who are willing to share the initial work and form themselves into a steering committee. There may already be several ADC members in your community who share an interest in starting a chapter.
Organize a meeting to introduce your effort to the community and to build a local board with at least four functioning committees (membership, political action and outreach, media, and education). Once a board is elected by local members and positions assumed it should meet to discuss general strategies and work outlines for the various committees, setting short and long-term goals. New Chapters should consider establishing the following Committees depend on available resources.
A Chapter is only as strong as its membership. This committee’s work is the backbone of any chapter and the chair should be someone who knows the local Arab-American community. A strong membership has three characteristics: size, diversity within the community, and active participation of the membership. Membership committee functions are: keeping the chapter membership roster current, expanding local membership, and renewing local memberships.
The media committee serves two purposes: media relations and media monitoring. Staying in contact with the media on a regular basis is the best way to insure quality coverage of your events and issues. It is imperative that you establish a working relationship with the appropriate media contacts for each medium in your area. In addition to media relations, media monitoring is one of the basic functions of ADC, which keeps a vigilant eye on anti-Arab defamation and discrimination in the media and provide corrections and alternative perspectives on important issues. Any ADC member who encounters poor media coverage or defamatory representation of concern involving the Arab community should record each instance and report it to the media committee and the national office (Remember the Fairness Doctrine that requires broadcasters to provide fair representation on issues of public importance!)
There is no better way to prevent discrimination than for schools to teach fully and accurately about the history and culture of the Arab world. However there are some 300,000 social studies teachers in 12,000 school districts and few of them have any academic training about the Arab world. There is a great need for Arab-Americans to support and assist educators. ADC instituted its “Reaching the Teachers” program, which assists ADC’s members in getting more involved in their community schools.
ADC chapters function as part of neighborhoods and communities. Members need to develop ways to reach out beyond the Arab-American community by becoming involved in community affairs and involving the non-Arab groups in Arab-American issues. The purpose of outreach is to gain allies between organizations and leaders who will support and participate in ADC campaigns and events. There are two general functions of political action and outreach: the first is the organization of campaigns to mobilize public opinion about current issues of interest to the Arab-American community; the second is to link Arab American with other organizations who are working for similar causes as the ADC.
This committee protects the civil rights of Arab-Americans in cases of discrimination. It should strive to make ADC a recognized part of the civil and human rights network in your area. The legal committee educates the public about Arab-American concerns and builds public support for Arab-Americans from the larger community. Once the Arab-American community has learned of ADC, you may receive reports of discrimination in employment, housing, schools or universities. Document all cases of discrimination, evaluate each case carefully, and report cases to the national office.
Fundraising may be the most difficult job of your ADC Chapter. So take your fundraising one step at a time! First, know the community and local sources of funding; develop a short and long-term strategy for raising money; immediately identify an initial group of potential contributors and plan personal visits or a special fundraising event during which you can solicit their support. Successful fundraising for your Chapter will depend on four important factors: issues, information, motivation, and sources of fundraising
Special events and other ADC activities are organized through the collective efforts of all standing committees. This can be done by combining the efforts of all committees or by establishing a special events committee for a particular activity and utilizing the resources of all committees. Regardless of the formal structure, it is essential for the success of any event that all committees and chapter members are involved.