About ISPU

ISPU provides objective research and education about American Muslims to support well-informed dialogue and decision-making.

A diverse group of kids gathers around to take a selfie

Why We Exist

At the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding (ISPU), we envision an America where Muslims are thriving and equal participants. And we believe that relevant, rigorous research in the right hands will help us get there. Our work strengthens Muslim communities and equips those working toward full and equitable inclusion with solution-seeking research that makes it possible to stand up, to speak up, and to thrive. Learn about our impact→

What We Do

Founded in 2002, ISPU has been at the forefront of discovering trends and opportunities that impact American Muslims for almost 20 years. We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that builds understanding, strengthens communities, and protects pluralism by laying a foundation of actionable research. As the only organization of our kind, we’re the go-to source for anyone seeking information about Muslims in America and issues that impact them. We also share what we know in easily digestible ways with the general public, policymakers, media professionals, community leaders, and more. ISPU has offices both in Dearborn, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. Meet our staff in DC and Michigan→

ISPU's executive director, Meira Neggaz, smiles while presenting in front of a group
ISPU's executive director, Meira Neggaz, smiles while presenting in front of a group

What We Do

Founded in 2002, ISPU has been at the forefront of discovering trends and opportunities that impact American Muslims for almost 20 years. We’re a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that builds understanding, strengthens communities, and protects pluralism by laying a foundation of actionable research. As the only organization of our kind, we’re the go-to source for anyone seeking information about Muslims in America and issues that impact them. We also share what we know in easily digestible ways with the general public, policymakers, media professionals, community leaders, and more. ISPU has offices both in Dearborn, Michigan, and Washington, D.C. Meet our staff in DC and Michigan→

How We Do It

magnifying glass

DISCOVER

First, we discover new data through rigorous research. Our publications, including our annual American Muslim Poll, provide much-needed insight into issues impacting not just Americans who are Muslim but all individuals working toward the promise of pluralism. Explore our publication library→

podium

EDUCATE

Next, we use what we learn to educate the general public and raise awareness. We reach millions of people every year through in-person and digital education events, exhibits, convenings, media coverage, and more. See our events calendar→

two hands clasped in a shake

ENABLE

Finally, we provide resources and toolkits for journalists, policymakers, community leaders, teachers, advocates, and others to use in their own important work. Our strategy of enabling others multiplies our impact as the data lives on in the work of those who catalyze change. Explore our toolkits→

Corey Saylor

“If you want to see where the future of empowering Americans who are Muslim lies, you must look at the Institute for Social Policy and Understanding.”

COREY SAYLOR, ReThink Media

Sarah Harvard

“ISPU research does a remarkable job in covering areas that are often overlooked in dialogue about the [Muslim] community.”

SARAH HARVARD, Journalist

Matthew Pierce

“After encountering the work of ISPU, my students often find themselves inspired.”

MATTHEW PIERCE, Assistant Professor of Religion at Kentucky’s Centre College

Our Story

A timeline arrow starting at 2001 and going to 2008

FALL 2001

ISPU is born.

The horrific attacks of September 11 had left Americans searching for insights into the Muslim community that few experts were providing. For a full two years before ISPU became an official organization, our founders gathered to plan for the research organization as it is known today.

APRIL 2003

ISPU contributes to its first major publication.

ISPU Fellow Saeed Khan penned an entry in The Encyclopedia of the Human Genome titled “Race and Difference: Orientalism and Western Concepts.”

DECEMBER 17, 2003

ISPU is incorporated.

A Portrait of Detroit Mosques report cover

APRIL 2004

ISPU’s first publication, the Detroit Mosque Study, is published.

A timeline arrow starting at 2008 and going to 2015
Shireen Zaman

MAY 2010

Shireen Zaman becomes ISPU’s first full-time executive director.

FEBRUARY 2011

A second ISPU office opens in Washington, D.C.

MAY 2013

ISPU conducts its first demographic study of Muslims in America, the Bay Area Muslim Study.

This groundbreaking study looked at demographics, identity, economic well-being, and political and civic engagement.

ISPU logo

JANUARY 2014

ISPU 2.0 is born.

A new strategic vision strengthened and refocused our institutional approach.

A timeline arrow starting at 2015 and going to 2019

MARCH 2016

ISPU conducts and releases its first nationwide survey.

The American Muslim Poll offered a badly needed evidence-based contribution to a landscape that saw Muslims increasingly discussed but not included in national debates.

2 people looking at a photo narrative exhibit.

MAY 2017

ISPU launches Muslims for American Progress.

This study provided an in-depth quantitative and qualitative look at the contributions of Muslims to the state of Michigan.

JANUARY 2018

ISPU publishes its first toolkits.

We selected a collection of actionable research from our vast archives to create specialized toolkits for imams, mental health professionals, political engagement organizers, and others. 

A journalist holding a recorder and two microphones while writing in a notepad

APRIL 2018

Newsmedia members gather for ISPU’s first journalist training.

Our Story

FALL 2001

ISPU is born.

The horrific attacks of September 11 had left Americans searching for insights into the Muslim community that few experts were providing. For a full two years before ISPU became an official organization, our founders gathered to plan for the research organization as it is known today.

APRIL 2003

ISPU contributes to its first major publication.

ISPU Fellow Saeed Khan penned an entry in The Encyclopedia of the Human Genome titled “Race and Difference: Orientalism and Western Concepts.”

DECEMBER 17, 2003

ISPU is incorporated.

A Portrait of Detroit Mosques report cover

APRIL 2004

ISPU’s first publication, the Detroit Mosque Study, is published.

Shireen Zaman

MAY 2010

Shireen Zaman becomes ISPU’s first full-time executive director.

FEBRUARY 2011

A second ISPU office opens in Washington, D.C.

MAY 2013

ISPU conducts its first demographic study of Muslims in America, the Bay Area Muslim Study.

This groundbreaking study looked at demographics, identity, economic well-being, and political and civic engagement.

ISPU logo

JANUARY 2014

ISPU 2.0 is born.

A new strategic vision strengthened and refocused our institutional approach.

MARCH 2016

ISPU conducts and releases its first nationwide survey.

The American Muslim Poll offered a badly needed evidence-based contribution to a landscape that saw Muslims increasingly discussed but not included in national debates.

2 people looking at a photo narrative exhibit.

MAY 2017

ISPU launches Muslims for American Progress.

This study provided an in-depth quantitative and qualitative look at the contributions of Muslims to the state of Michigan.

JANUARY 2018

ISPU publishes its first toolkits.

We selected a collection of actionable research from our vast archives to create specialized toolkits for imams, mental health professionals, political engagement organizers, and others. 

A journalist holding a recorder and two microphones while writing in a notepad

APRIL 2018

Newsmedia members gather for ISPU’s first journalist training.

JUNE 2019

ISPU organizes its first workshop for educators.

Teachers and administrators gathered in Grand Rapids, Michigan, to learn how to create inclusive and enriching classroom experiences.

Our Values

two hands shaking

COLLABORATION

We actively seek to work with, not in competition against, others in the field.

megaphone

ACTION

We conduct research to find solutions that are realistic and implementable.

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RIGOR

Our research is objective, thorough, and evidence based.

two arrows showing a feedback loop

RESPONSIVENESS

We conduct research on what is relevant now to American Muslim communities.

eye

VISION

We continuously look for emerging challenges and opportunities.

star

EXCELLENCE

Quality and professionalism are key to all that we do.

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