Building Bridges


The mission of the Building Bridges Program is to support national efforts, working with U.S. Muslims, to increase mutual understanding and well-being among diverse populations for the benefit of building stronger, inclusive communities. 

About the Building Bridges Program

Based in New York, the Building Bridges Program is the national grant-making program of the Doris Duke Foundation for Islamic Art (DDFIA), an extension of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation. In alignment with Doris Duke’s Will and DDFIA’s core values of promoting and preserving Muslim cultures, the Building Bridges Program maintains an enduring commitment to the well-being of American Muslims. The program’s larger aim is to contribute to a more just civil society and greater well-being among people. The program envisions a network of strong and healthy communities across the United States in which every member is valued, supported and empowered to fulfill their greatest potential for their mutual welfare.

The need for improving cross-community harmony is clear. As the United States becomes more racially and ethnically varied, communities that reflect these changing demographics are grappling with how to live with neighbors from cultural backgrounds other than their own.

American Muslims number about 3.5 million people in the United States or 1% of the country’s total population. According to the 2017 Institute for Social Policy and Understanding poll, while American Muslims make up the most ethnically and racially diverse communities, studies have shown that the majority of Americans from the broader population have limited knowledge and hold unfavorable opinions of them. A July 2017 report from Pew Research Center showed that seven out of 10 U.S adults say there is “a lot” of discrimination against Muslims and that half of U.S. adults think coverage of Islam and Muslims by American news organizations is generally unfair (53%), compared with 39% who think the media coverage is fair. The center also reports that while 75% of U.S.-based-Muslims say that there is a lot of discrimination against American Muslims and 50% believe being Muslim has become harder, nine out of 10 from the community remain proud to be American.

Americans have complicated, even contradictory, views about the impact of the nation’s growing diversity and the best way to achieve successful inclusion, especially since the shift to a more diverse nation is happening more quickly in some places than in others. Most Americans say that the country’s diverse population is a positive, but many also say diversity introduces its own set of challenges. On balance, both perspectives need to be contemplated while considering the best way forward for advancing social cohesion.

Since 2007, the Building Bridges Program has supported endeavors that engage U.S.-based communities, particularly American Muslim communities and their neighbors, through experiential learning offered by diverse creative art forms to advance understanding and relationships across communities. To promote the well-being of American communities more broadly, the program actively seeks diverse partnerships that have similar values and goals for harmony and cooperation among communities.

Goals & Strategies

Funding Opportunities

View information about the Building Bridges Program's current open competition at Building Bridges 2020 Grants Program.