A Spotlight on access: America's Largest Arab American Nonprofit

Nestled in the heart of Michigan, amidst the vibrant cityscape of Detroit, you'll find a place that's not just a community center but a lifeline for many – The Arab Community Center for Economic and Social Services (ACCESS). Leading this incredible organization is President and CEO Maha Freij, whose journey from a small village in Palestine to leading one of America's largest Arab American nonprofits is truly inspiring.

 

As a young child, Freji quickly recognized the inequities in and outside of her community. While justice was always important to her, she didn't initially think of it as a career option. Driven by her mother's belief in the power of education, Freij became the first woman in her village to earn a university degree and the first Arab woman to obtain a CPA license. In 1991, Freij became fiscal officer at ACCESS, eventually taking on the role of CEO.

Female with shoulder-length, straight blonde hair, who is smiling and wearing a black top with coral pink jacket in front of a mural of Arabic people in various aspects of daily life to the right of text: We impact more than 100,00 people each year in a million different ways. Maha Freij President and CEO of ACCESS

Serving Michigan's Arab American community
For over 50 years, ACCESS has been deeply rooted in serving Michigan communities. Today, it is the largest Arab American community nonprofit in the country, with ten locations serving metro Detroit, including the ACCESS Community Health and Research Center, which is the largest and most comprehensive Arab-community based health centers in North America.

 

ACCESS offers more than 130 programs across healthcare, workforce development, entrepreneurship, and education. While the center caters to Middle Eastern and North African communities, ACCESS opens its doors to everyone. "ACCESS is a true multi service, human service provider. You won't find anything like it anywhere else. We impact more than 100,000 people each year, but we touch them in more than a million different ways … trust and connection get people through our doors." shared Freij.

 

Collaborating to serve the community
Ford Fund and ACCESS are long-time partners, working together through many challenging times to support the communities who need it most.

The relationship between the two organizations is built on mutual trust and respect, not only for each other but also for the broader community they serve. "If something major happens in the region, we are a thought partner; we are one organization Ford Fund can depend on to help support the community."

 

How can you support ACCESS?
ACCESS invites all Ford employees to engage with, learn about, and celebrate the rich cultural heritage of Arab Americans. Throughout April, Ford employees can visit the Arab American National Museum free of charge. ACCESS also offers several volunteer opportunities. For more information, please reach out via email at volunteer@ford.com or visit VOLUNTEERS (www.fordphilanthropy.org).

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