About Us

Mission: Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR) seeks to empower Chicago youth to combat racial, economic, and social inequity. CDYR works with youth ages 15 – 21 who trace their heritage to South Asia and the diaspora, and who want to grow as changemakers. CDYR organizes an annual youth summer leadership retreat, where participants draw upon their diverse experiences and intersectional identities while they examine and challenge the underlying causes of their communities’ problems and conditions to become agents for social change. As of 2018, participants also have the opportunity to participate in year-round mobilization programming and also receive funding to organize community projects of their choice. 

Vision: During the 3-day retreat, youth will engage in experiential, hands-on, and interactive workshops that aim to:

  1.  Connect their personal identities as South Asian youth to social movements
  2. Highlight how systems of oppression shape our world and individual experiences
  3. Foster a sense of belonging and solidarity across intersectional identities
  4. Provide mentorship
  5. Build the technical knowledge and skills needed to create social change, such as critical thinking, communication, leadership, advocacy, and community organizing
  6. Set them up for action

After the annual retreat, youth are empowered to work together to put what they learned into action, and continue to come together to build community.

We welcome adoptees, desis of mixed heritage, any immigration status, all LGBTQTSIS youth, and residents of Chicago and Chicagoland suburbs.

To learn more about how we work click here.

Organizing Collective:

73230512_10157764616104809_840115694954610688_o.jpgBindu Poroori (she/they) has called Chicago home since 2011, but is originally from sweet sweltering Chennai. These days, she’s working with the Illinois Federation of Teachers, the City of Chicago’s 47th Ward, City Bureau, the Chicago Parks District, the Fly Honey Show, and Chicago Desi Youth Rising – as a curator, artist, researcher, facilitator, organizer, and administrator. Bindu‘s personal artistic and social practice is at the intersection of poetry, civic dialogue, and racial justice. She is always looking for home.


Viveka Ray-Mazumder (Vi) Viveka Ray-Mazumder (Vi) is a first generation Bengali American who is passionate about using storytelling and cultural work as tools for social change. Vi has spent the last 15 years organizing around racial justice, education equity, and gender justice. Vi served as Manger of Youth Organizing at Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Chicago where they ran KINETIC, Advancing Justice | Chicago’s civic leadership program for immigrant and refugee youth. In 2019, Vi was recognized for this work by the Field Foundation of Illinois as a Leader for a New Chicago. Vi is a founding collective member of Chicago Desi Youth Rising (CDYR), and is a former core member of i2i: Asian Pacific Islander Pride of Chicago and the Transformative Justice Law Project of Illinois. Vi holds a B.A. from Middlebury College in Sociology.


6cfca5f9-3906-4ae7-9138-2e441d495fffTanvi Singh was a youth participant in CDYR’s 2017 retreat, where they were inspired to be able to share space with such a beautiful and grounding community of other radical South Asians. Tanvi had began organizing in high school, and has since been invested in the power of community building and direct action to disrupt oppression. Tanvi is passionate about youth power and mobilization to dismantle systemic violence in our communities, and in solidarity with other communities. They are also committed to slowing down, self-care, and embodiment within movement work and for collective liberation. Tanvi currently works in the Social & Behavioral Research department at Howard Brown Health’s Center for Education, Research, and Advocacy, where they assist on research projects aiming to eliminate disparities in  healthcare experienced by the LGBTQ community. They graduated from Roosevelt University in 2019 with a BA in Social Justice Studies & Mathematics. 


Stuti Sharma is an immigrant artist. She primarily is a poet and a stand up comic. She is Chicago-raised and South Suburbs-based and claims them both proudly. She studied English and Chemistry for a bit, worked a variety of jobs that informed life and art including but not limited to shelving books at a library, selling corn at a farm, running an after school program for immigrant and refugee youth at the Indo American Center, and herding school buses from field trips at a museum. Curiosity and questions propel her writing, teaching, and work. Achieving justice and liberation in solidarity motivate her. She had a spot in Belt Publishing’s Chicago Neighbor Guidebook that talks about growing up in the West Ridge of Chicago. You can find her around the city doing stand up shows, exclusively eating in restaurants where the cooks simultaneously make food while FaceTiming family, or exploring the prairies, wetlands, and forests of Illinois.  


Sophia Zaman is proud daughter of her Bangladeshi mother, who taught her to always seek 18275249_10209630315771623_5082068727265421315_n (1).jpgjustice and live purposefully. As a volunteer during the 2014 CDYR retreat, Sophia was deeply moved by the collective’s mission to activate South Asian youth by challenging anti-blackness & the myth of the model minority, and empowering them with the skills and relationships to uplift our communities. She brings over 5 years experience in the student movement, organizing for racial, gender and economic justice, most recently as President of the United States Student Association, where she represented 1.5 million college students at the White House and in Congress. Currently, she serves as Executive Director of Raise the Floor Alliance, a worker center collaborative advancing justice for low-wage workers. Sophia is a fierce believer in grounding rituals to sustain movement work, so during her downtime you will usually find her nurturing her flora, experimenting in the kitchen, or doodling with mehndi.

unnamed.jpgPrabhneek Heer (Niki) is the Grant Writer at Asian Americans Advancing Justice | Chicago. She was born and raised in Central Valley, California and moved to Chicago in 2017. Niki also works with Asian Americans Advancing Justice—Los Angeles’s Untold Civil Rights Stories project, contributing to and developing ethnic studies curricula for K-12 public school students, is a member of A Just Chi’s Police Accountability working group and volunteers with the Chicago Community Bond Fund. Niki graduated from UCLA in 2017 with a B.A. in Political Science with a concentration in Race, Ethnicity and Politics. Her participation and experiences in South Asian organizing spaces and student government while at UCLA have helped shape her commitment to racial justice and issues of state violence in particular.


1-1.jpgGemini Bhalsod is a British Indian American daughter of immigrants who is committed to practicing her politics daily. Gemini has worked with youth formally and informally and is excited to continue working with youth through CDYR. She grew up in Michigan, where she studied plant biology and crop and soil science. Gemini has lived and organized in Lansing and Detroit, where she learned with an amazing community of activists and mentors, organizing for environmental, racial, economic, and transportation justice. In Detroit, Gemini was an adult collective member with Detroit Asian Youth (DAY) Project where she supported youth community building and political education efforts. Currently she works as a horticulture educator and can usually be found gardening or reading science fiction. 

Screen Shot 2020-01-16 at 11.00.09 AM.pngNashiha (Nash) Alam is a Bangladeshi Muslim organizer and creative in Chicago living, breathing and day dreaming about liberation.  She owes her own politicization to Palestinian resistance leaders who organized her to lead campaigns calling for divestment from Israeli occupation in American universities, locally and nationally.  
Rooted in community, her organizing seeks to center directly impacted youth leaders in diasporic communities, while working on domestic and international issues, from divestment from Israeli occupation, language access in public schools, to the demilitarization of schools.  As an office manager at Asian Americans Advancing Justice-Chicago, she understands the versatility of the work needed to chip away at the foundations of injustice, and is committed to showing up in movement spaces.  She graduated from Loyola University Chicago in 2016 with a BA in Gender Studies and is a “Chicago Women & Femmes to Celebrate” 2017 honoree.


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