Best Nonprofit (2012)

Emerge-USA

Regardless of your political leanings, it's tough to deny that Muslims in America are routinely stereotyped and vilified by the rest of society. For young people, being labeled an outcast can be a self-fulfilling prophecy. Margate attorney Khurrum Wahid aims to prevent such alienation before it begins. In 2006, he founded Emerge-USA, a nonprofit group that aims to empower Muslim, Indian, Pakistani, and Arab-American people through voter registration, political polling, and a leadership training program for young adults. By getting more of Florida's 120,000 registered Muslim voters involved in politics, Wahid hopes to combat fear and bigotry. Helping young Muslims land internships at City Hall and introducing them to Tallahassee power brokers is a key part of his mission. If politicians grow accustomed to seeing a woman in a head scarf in the mayor's office, they will be less inclined to label her a terrorist. "Public perception drives public policy," Wahid says.

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