Founded in 2010, the Pars Equality Center is the first nonprofit organization of its kind in the U.S. to provide social and legal services to the Iranian-American community. Located in San Jose, where the majority of Bay Area Persian immigrants are based, the Center was expanded in 2015 to include the Daryabari Iranian Community Center. Community and social service programs such as job placement, income tax assistance and parenting courses are offered in Farsi, as well as classes in learning English. The Center has a small staff and more than 200 volunteers. Last year, the Centers (there is also one in Los Angeles) recorded more than 20,000 walk-in participants. The Center’s founder, Bita Daryabari, explains, “We have expanded and had great success because we address the community’s specific social and legal needs. Both the local and federal governments recognize these important services, so they continue to support us with the cause.”
Founder: Daryabari has a background in computer programming and telecom management. She began her philanthropic during her marriage to Google executive Omid Kordestani. Now a mother of three children and an Atherton resident, she focuses her time and resources on promoting education for Middle Eastern women and assisting Iranian immigrants as they integrate into the community.
Budget: The current budget for the Center is $2.2 million annually. Daryabari pays for 33 percent, with the rest coming from grants and fundraising.
Inspiration: Daryabari says her own personal experience as an Iranian immigrant spurred her desire to help others. She came to the U.S. as a teenager in 1985 and lived in Missouri with family members. She says she was fortunate because her parents were providing her with financial support.
Impact: “We have been able to positively impact the lives of thousands of immigrants that have needed social and legal support,” says Daryabari. She cites the example of a middle-aged father of two children who had recently lost his wife just before migrating to the U.S.“PARS was able to find this man and his children a guest house to live in, as well as employment in the county clerk’s office. The daughter just finished her first year in high school and is a straight-A student. The son is enrolled in kindergarten, and the father is now a full-time county employee.”
Get Involved: “People can fill out the volunteer form on our website (parsequalitycenter.org) and/or by making a tax-deductible donation. They can even fund a specific need by assigning a certain amount of money to a specific cause, such as helping the elderly, enrichment programs, scholarships for kids and so many more invaluable programs that are changing lives for the better.”