Council Of Peoples Organization (COPO)
COPO is a non-profit organization in New York City serving the South Asian community providing multiple services. Through our broad range of programs, we help to fulfill the dreams of Asian Americans and our other neighbors across New York City.
The Council of Peoples Organization’s (COPO) mission is to assist low income immigrant families, particularly South Asians and Muslims, to reach their full potential as residents of New York City. COPO empowers marginalized communities to advocate for their rights and understand their responsibilities as Americans. It helps to build community relations between Muslim and non-Muslim community groups. It continues to establish connections between the communities and various government agencies
COPO, formerly known as the Council of Pakistan Organization, began in the aftermath of the 9/11 tragedy. Several business owners in Central Brooklyn responded to the backlash faced by South Asians, particularly Muslims, in the neighborhoods of Midwood and Kensington. After extensive brainstorming among neighborhood representatives, COPO opened its doors on February 1, 2002 to support families impacted by this crisis. As a wider cross section of the neighborhood appealed to the organization for assistance, our name was changed to the Council of Peoples Organization to represent all that are served.
Prior to 9/11, the Pakistani community was isolated and poverty-stricken. The people toiled at below-minimum wages, lived in substandard housing, had limited access to healthcare, and lacked proficiency in English. Following the 9/11 terrorist attack, racism, racial profiling and selective immigration enforcement only added to the woes of the South Asian population. These political and socio-economic factors exacerbated conditions in the already isolated and underserved community.
During the first year after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, community members reached out to our Executive Director, Mohammad Razvi, for assistance. The FBI was detaining and conducting mass arrests on men in South-Asian, Muslim communities who they believed had ties to the terrorist organization behind the attacks. Our Executive Director acted as a liaison between the affected families and the governmental agencies and helped the community members receive the answers and help they were in need for.
Originally, COPO was only meant to be open for six months to provide legal aid to the community members. However, realizing that there is an increasing need in the community for social services, our Executive Director decided to permanently offer not only legal aid, but also other social services such as SNAP, Health Insurance, English classes, and Older Adult Services to the community.
COPO’s formation addressed these issues at a time when very few organizations primarily served low-income South Asians and Muslims in Brooklyn