More About Who We Are

How CDYR Collective is Organized

CDYR is organized by an all-volunteer consensus-based collective. The Organizing Collective uses a  consensus-based model  to empower each member of the collective in decision making. Collective members actively engage in conversations of critical reflection to challenge our own assumptions, and to co-create healing spaces to work. CDYR also has an advisory board that assists in strategy, resources, and connections to build the retreat.

History and Why we Exist

  • While South Asians are the fastest growing racial group in Illinois and comprise the second highest group of undocumented Illinois immigrants, there are few spaces that bring young South Asians together to share their formative experiences, and build a politicized vision for social justice.
  • Segments of the Illinois South Asian community face challenges due to issues related to citizenship, English proficiency, joblessness, and isolation. However, this is a highly fragmented community, with identities across nations, religions, languages, immigration histories, and socio-economic statuses. We must build connections across experiences to mobilize as one and develop the next generation of leaders needed to address the evolving needs of our entire community.
  • Preliminary research shows that South Asian youth are frequent targets of bullying given post 9/11 xenophobia (SAALT, 2013), and points to high rates of mental health issues and acculturative stress (Lee, 2009). We can help normalize and help make meaning of these experiences at an earlier age by opening spaces to share them.
  • The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement (2010) finds that one-third of all Asian-American youth feels civically alienated. The voices of youth, particularly youth of color and young women, are often missing from public policy debates and social change efforts. Youth have been absent from other Asian and Pacific Islander youth work done in Chicago.
  • CYDR began in 2013 and is inspired by Youth Solidarity Summer (YSS) in New York, Bay Area Solidarity Summer (BASS), and D.C. Desi Summer (DCDS).
  • CDYR was founded by two young desi organizers and activists who were concerned about mental health issues among desi youth and the lack of desi participation in Asian and Pacific Islander (API) youth work in Chicago.

CFS Sponsorship

Chicago Desi Youth Rising is fiscally sponsored by the Chicago Freedom School, whose mission is to create new generations of critical thinking young people who use their unique experiences and power to create a just world.

Definition of Desi

Desi – n., adj.: refers to people with origins in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Afghanistan, Bhutan, and the Maldives, but the diaspora spreads from Fiji to Trinidad, from Kenya to the Persian Gulf, from South Africa to Guyana and Suriname, from Southall in Britain to Washington, DC and many places in between.


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