Kashif Shaikh

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Kashif Shaikh
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New York City, USA
CitizenshipUnited States of America
  • BA
  • MA
Alma mater
  • Ohio State University
  • Northwestern University
Years active2005-present
OrganizationPillars Fund
TitleCo-founder and Executive director
AwardsCrain’s Chicago ‘40 Under 40.’ The New York Times, NPR, Fast Company. Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group, New Profit Civic Lab, Ambassadors for Health Equity

Kashif Shaikh is co-founder and executive director of Pillars Fund, a philanthropic organization.[1] that amplifies the leadership, narratives, and talents of American Muslims.

Early life and education

Shaikh was born in New York City and moved to Cincinnati [2] when he was ten years old. A first-generation American Muslim, Shaikh’s parents immigrated to the United States from Pakistan. He grew up speaking Urdu and English.


In late 2005, Shaikh moved to Chicago to work at United Way of Metropolitan Chicago where he developed engagement strategies for some of the organization’s largest corporate partners.

In 2009, Shaikh began working as a program officer[3] at the McCormick Foundation where he managed a portfolio largely focused on education, workforce development and homelessness. He also oversaw the Foundation’s community partnerships [4] with the Chicago Bulls, the Chicago Blackhawks, and the Chicago Tribune.

In 2010, while still at the McCormick Foundation, Shaikh co-founded [5] Pillars Fund, a national philanthropic organization that invests in American Muslim leaders, organizations and storytellers.

In 2016, Shaikh left [1] the McCormick Foundation to run Pillars Fund full-time as its first executive director. Pillars Fund has grown into one of the largest funders of Muslim issues in the United States.

According to a 2017 Pillar article[6] [7] These Muslim Millionaires Want You To Think Of Philanthropy When You Think Of Islam of the organization:

"Today, Pillars is emerging as a powerful, behind-the-scenes engine of Muslim activism, a secret weapon in the war against the multimillion-dollar “Islamophobia” industry."

Since its founding, Pillars has invested [3] more than $5 million into organizations and initiatives that strengthen American Muslim communities, including by amplifying their stories. Contributors to the Pillars Fund include [8] American Muslim philanthropists and grantmaking institutions such as the Chicago Community Trust, Robert R. McCormick Foundation, Ford Foundation, W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Open Society Foundations, Nathan Cummings Foundation, MacArthur Foundation, Pop Culture Collaborative, Democracy Fund, and Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art.

Awards & recognition

In 2017, Shaikh was named one of Crain’s Chicago ‘40 Under 40 His work at Pillars Fund has been featured by outlets such as The New York Times[5], NPR, and Fast Company [9]. He has been named a Fellow by the Aspen Institute Forum for Community Solutions and Neighborhood Funders Group [10], New Profit Civic Lab [11], and Ambassadors for Health Equity [12]

Personal life

Shaikh earned a B.A. from Ohio State University and M.A. from Northwestern University. He lives in Chicago, IL[2]

Kashif Shaikh in the media



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