Italian American Organizations
There are a variety of organizations that work to promote and preserve our heritage. Many of them offer lodges and events on the local level. If you are able to join and support any of them, I highly encourage it.
Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America (OSDIA)
Originally called Ordine Figli d’Italia, the Order Sons of Italy in America® was established in the Little Italy neighborhood of New York City in 1905, by Vincenzo Sellaro, M.D., and five other Italian immigrants who came to the United States during the Great Italian migration. Their aim was to create a support system for all Italian immigrants that would assist them with becoming U.S. citizens, provide health/death benefits and educational opportunities and offer assistance with assimilation in America. In 2017, the Order Sons of Italy in America was renamed the Order Sons and Daughters of Italy in America® (OSDIA).
National Italian American Foundation (NIAF)
Based in Washington, D.C., NIAF’s mission is to serve as a resource for the Italian American Community; to preserve the Italian American heritage and culture; to promote and inspire a positive image and legacy of Italian Americans; and to strengthen and empower ties between the United States and Italy. NIAF was founded in 1975 and is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization with no political affiliations. NIAF’s two most important purposes are to encourage Italian Americans to continue keeping their culturally rich heritage and traditions alive and present, and to ensure that the entire community never forgets the great contribution that Italians have made to the history and progress of the United States.
UNICO was founded on October 10, 1922 in Waterbury, Connecticut. A group of 15 men, led by Dr. Anthony P. Vastola, came together to create what has become a very special and very proud organization. It was Dr. Vastola’s dream to create an Italian American service organization to engage in charitable works, support higher education, and perform patriotic deeds. The name UNICO was selected as best representing the nature and the character of this fledgling organization. The name is the Italian word for unique, one of a kind. The founders believed that UNICO would be the only one of its kind because it placed service to the community before and above fraternity. At the same time they hoped that the rest of society would come to know and understand the real contributions of Italian Americans to our way of life. Its sole purpose was to unite all Italian Americans and motivate them to become more civic minded. In order to accomplish this, members would have to understand that they would have to make sacrifices, not for personal gain, but for service to others. In the ensuing years UNICO became an acronym that stood for Unity, Neighborliness, Integrity, Charity, and Opportunity.
Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition
The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition’s stated mission is to “secure the rightful representation of Americans of Italian origin and of all peoples whose paths toward social equality have been impeded. The powers of Intellect, Wisdom and Due Process of Law will be brought to bear on all inequities.” We do this though education, activism, publicity, and other resources and methods. In practice, The Italian American ONE VOICE Coalition is a nationwide army of anti-bias activists that fight discrimination and defend Italian American heritage and culture. Our goal is to act as one united voice when dealing with defamation, discrimination and negative stereotyping of our culture and heritage. ONE VOICE is different from all other Italian American groups in that its’ primary focus and objective is to fight bias in mass media and combat stereotyping and discrimination against Italian Americans. It is the only national Italian American organization of its type that focuses solely on defending the great heritage and culture of Italian Americans.
NJ Italian Heritage Commission
The New Jersey Italian Heritage Commission is a permanent, State-level Commission that was signed into law in January 2002. It was founded as the “New Jersey Commission on Italian and Americans of Italian Heritage Cultural and Educational Programs”, P.L. 2001 Chapter 343 Title 18a 4-42. NJIHC’s mission is to build and strengthen the cultural identity of Italians and Italian Americans through public educational programs that preserve and promote an accurate, bias-free and non-stereotyped understanding and awareness of historical and current contributions and accomplishments of people of Italian heritage.
Coccia Foundation, a 501 (c) 3, founded in 1994 by Cavaliere Joseph Coccia, Jr., and his wife Elda, establishes and supports various educational, cultural, and social events for the youth of the Italian and Italian American community, particularly those organized within institutions of higher education. The essential goal of the Foundation is not only to promote awareness of Italian and Italian American culture, history, and societal contributions, but to celebrate and preserve these areas for younger generations of Italian Americans in the United States, as well as those of other backgrounds and ethnicities who are interested in discovering all things Italian.
Want your organization listed?
Are you involved in an organization you would like me to add to this list? Please reach out to me at alvb1227 @ gmail dot com.