1850 posts categorized "Philanthropy"

Support for first-generation college students beyond scholarships: A commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter

December 02, 2021

News_africanamerican_gradsThe power of private scholarships to fuel systemic change for first-generation college students

The challenge

Each year philanthropists invest $6.1 billion in private scholarships for more than 1.6 million students on their way to earning a college degree. Many of these scholarships were created to help level the playing field for first-generation and underrepresented students. But scholarships alone cannot remove all obstacles faced by first-generation students both in accessing higher education and graduating on time.

College completion has proven to produce better economic outcomes and job prospects, higher wages, increased satisfaction levels, and a higher quality of life. However, when college scholarships are awarded without a focus on completion, promising young people often struggle to navigate the road to graduation. Before a first-generation student can take advantage of the professional and social mobility a college degree can provide, that student must first graduate. But graduation is not only the result of academic commitment; it also requires a student to deal with the social, emotional, and financial strains of pursuing a degree. While this is true for all students, the problem is more pronounced for students who are the first in their families to attend college.

Inclusivity initiatives, students’ hard work, and the availability of scholarships have unlocked access to higher education for some students. But once enrolled, those students are often left to navigate college without the on-campus support they need. First-generation students often struggle to find an on-campus community that looks, acts, and speaks like them or understands their background. Even the hardest-working student relies on numerous factors, including community, to successfully graduate. Due to longstanding institutional blind spots, colleges and universities can overlook or underestimate the challenges of being a first-generation student. The result? Lower graduation rates despite sufficient academic ability....

Read the full commentary by Andrew Davis and Sam Ritter, the founder and director, respectively, of the Davis New Mexico Scholarship.

Rethinking traditional models, committing to an equity lens: A commentary by Amy Klement

November 29, 2021

Equality_GettyImages_rapideyeLeading with learning: How we’re reimagining philanthropic impact in 2022 and beyond

For those who work in philanthropy, the chaos that began in early 2020 have propelled more much-needed critical introspection than the field has ever faced. The inequities laid bare by the devastating pandemic highlighted how too many of our systems have been failing the majority of people. For us at Imaginable Futures, an education- and learning-focused philanthropic investment firm, owning up that we’re part of the system and have been part of the problem was only the first step.

It’s clearer than ever that for philanthropy to be truly effective in driving sustainable change, we need to rethink traditional models that are too often top-down and risk perpetuating the same systems of oppression they seek to transform. We, as philanthropic organizations, need to work harder to undo the culture of colonialism and white supremacy that is deeply woven into our field of work. And, critically, we must commit to utilizing an equity lens, starting from the inside out.

While a strategy refresh for Imaginable Futures was always the plan for 2020-21, it was done against the backdrop of COVID-19 and the global movement for racial justice. We’ve spent the last year and a half listening, learning, and evolving our approach to reimagine our philanthropic efforts.

Throughout this process of reevaluating and refining our strategies, the entire Imaginable Futures team has committed to doing the work individually and as a team to continually evolve and evaluate our own mindsets, behaviors, and approaches....

Read the full commentary by Amy Klement, managing partner at Imaginable Futures.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/rapideye)

'Working with the wider community to support teachers': A commentary by Richard Bernstein

November 16, 2021

News_sheet_musicNonprofits must step up to support teachers

There is a nationwide teacher shortage. This is as catastrophic for today's youth as it is for society's future success. Not all the issues teachers face can be fixed instantaneously, but we must ensure that nonprofits are working with the wider community to support teachers.

I personally know the importance of a good music teacher — I've played the piano since childhood, and today it is a vital part of my daily routine — but like most kids, I had limited access to music in my public school, and even today, 50 percent of New York City public schools don't have a certified music teacher. This shortage reflects the wider challenges in teacher recruitment nationwide.

Teaching is a critical vocation, yet teachers are paid up to 60 percent less than other similarly qualified professionals. On top of this, many teachers pay for their own certifications, transportation, and even classroom supplies.

We know that nonprofits can help address these challenges. When nonprofits donate books so that teachers don't have to buy them themselves, libraries are fuller, and student imaginations are richer for it. Organizations including Verizon Foundation, Infosys Foundation USA, and Intel's Skills for Innovation have tech skills programs for teachers, which help them support their students over a wide variety of platforms. Still, clearly it is not enough: One in four teachers is currently considering quitting....

Read the full commentary by Richard Bernstein, board chair of Education Through Music.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'Philanthropic capital must play a bigger role in driving the systems shift we need': A commentary by Leslie Johnston

November 13, 2021

Blah_blah_blah_sign_-_Fridays_for_Future_pre-COP26_Milano_Mænsard vokserAll hands on deck: Philanthropy's extraordinary moment

Pressure is on here in Glasgow. Governments are rebalancing commitments so that they are on the right trajectory for alignment with the 2015 Paris agreement's targets. Business and industry are stepping up to do their part in everything from reducing deforestation to tackling methane emissions. And the finance sector is raising its ambition, as we saw with Mark Carney's announcement that $130 trillion in financial assets — 40 percent of the global total — have pledged to reach net zero carbon emissions by mid-century. I have heard from many COP-weary delegates that there is something different about this one. Pledges abound, and there does seem to be (finally) a sense of urgency.

Yet even after this flurry of announcements, there is no certainty that emissions will actually be lower by 2030. The updated United Nations synthesis report on nationally determined contributions continues to show emissions increasing, rather than halving, by 2030. It is also unclear whether we — collectively — are doing enough to address climate injustice and the deepening inequality in our societies. And critical voices are not at the table, with widespread criticism over a lack of representation from the Global South. Once the delegates leave Glasgow, there is also no certainty over how effectively companies, investors, and governments will be held to account for their commitments.

And that's where we need more philanthropic funders to come in. Philanthropy is society's risk capital, enabling business, finance, and industry to move faster. Yet despite our being in a crisis situation, philanthropic foundations still dedicate a minuscule percentage — an estimated 2 percent — of their approximately $750 billion in global giving to climate mitigation. This must change....

Read the full commentary by Leslie Johnston, CEO of Laudes Foundation in Zug, Switzerland.

A unique opportunity for governments and place-based funders: A commentary by Darius Graham

November 05, 2021

Headshot_Darius_Graham_weinberg_fdn_2021_croppedARPA's $350 billion opportunity and what philanthropy can do

In March 2021, President Joe Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), which provides $1.9 trillion in funds across federal, state, and local governments. The funding streams are numerous and most funds flow through existing programs and agencies to bolster health and economic recovery — for example, $28.6 billion for the Small Business Administration's Restaurant Revitalization Fund and $21.6 billion to continue rent relief. While it would be impossible to identify any one source as more important than another, there is a portion of the funding that presents a unique opportunity for governments and place-based funders to ensure that local communities' urgent needs are prioritized — equitably and strategically — in both the immediate and long term.

Included within ARPA is $350 billion in State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds (SLFRF) that will be allocated to state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments with no specific predetermined use.

According to the U.S. Treasury Department, the SLFRF's goals are to:

  • Support urgent COVID-19 response efforts to continue to decrease spread of the virus and bring the pandemic under control
  • Replace lost revenue for eligible state, local, territorial, and Tribal governments to strengthen support for vital public services and help retain jobs
  • Support immediate economic stabilization for households and businesses
  • Address systemic public health and economic challenges that have contributed to the unequal impact of the pandemic

Notably, these funds offer substantial flexibility for governments to meet local needs and can be used to make investments in water, sewer, and broadband infrastructure. These flexible funds, which must be committed by the end of 2024, provide governments with the opportunity to fund immediate needs, fill gaps, and/or make strategic investments....

Read the full commentary by Darius Graham, program director for Baltimore at The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

'The greatest opportunity to develop jobs in a generation': An interview with Paula DiPerna, Special Advisor, CDP North America

November 03, 2021

Headshot_paula_dipernaAuthor Paula DiPerna is a strategic global environmental and philanthropic policy advisor who has consulted with numerous environmentally focused nonprofit organizations, including WorkingNation, with which she is collaborating on a report that examines green jobs potential and workforce needs. She also serves currently as special advisor for CDP North America, and previously served as president of the Joyce Foundation, president of the Chicago Climate Exchange, and vice president for international affairs at the Cousteau Society. DiPerna founded the Jobs and Environment Initiative, which examined how public policy on economic development and environmental conservation could work more closely together to generate employment and livelihoods in all the regions of the U.S.

PND spoke with DiPerna about green job markets, diversity, and how growth in green jobs could affect the U.S. and global economies.

Philanthropy News Digest: Where are the green jobs in the United States currently, and how is that market changing?

Paula DiPerna: First we must define what is a green job. Most of the world, including philanthropy and the environmental movement, have not agreed on a basic point: If we believe the climate science, if we believe that water efficiency and energy efficiency are essential, and if we believe that infrastructure improvement is essential, then almost every job is a green job.

You cannot redo, recreate, and redesign the global economy without environmental considerations any longer. In that sense, the plumber, the electrician, the drywall installer — all these jobs will eventually be considered green. Which means it's impossible to talk about the scale without talking about a redefinition.

Read the full interview with Paula DiPerna.

The sustainable nonprofit: Post-pandemic fundraising

November 01, 2021

Virtual_meeting_GettyImages_SDI ProductionsThe 'virtual' reality of post-pandemic fundraising events: Suggestions for the future

In spring 2020, like so many in the nonprofit fundraising space, the organization I then worked for refashioned our large-scale luncheon to a virtual experience. A year later, with pandemic uncertainty still looming, we did it again. I wrote about the 2020 event last year, and this update provides further learnings from the 2020-21 shift to virtual fundraising as we look ahead to how our events will function in the future. My hope is that these observations inspire conversations among your teams, with your donors and stakeholders, and around your communities.

Programming opportunities within the virtual space

"Virtual events have broken down access barriers, democratized the event space, and solved issues of scale," said Ariel Glassman, a member of the Virtual Gala Collaborative. One of the most striking certainties Glassman shares is that virtual opportunities can be far more inclusive and equitable, and my former organization found this to be true.

The number of participants in our virtual events was double that of the in-person luncheons, and we found the reasons were two-fold: First, the content was incredibly strong, featuring our popular lead researcher — a well-known public speaker who is beloved in the community. Second, the events were totally free, thereby removing cost barriers to entry, and the sponsors who supported the events appreciated the expanded audience....

Read the full column article by Evan Wildstein, a fundraiser and nonprofiteer in Houston, Texas.

(Photo credit: GettyImages/SDI Productions)

'Elements of a strong and sustainable funder-grantee relationship': A commentary by Susan Olivo and Brad Turner

October 29, 2021

Students learning to read on mobile devices_BenetechBuilding long-term partnerships with nonprofits to scale impact: Lessons from sustained funding relationships

Every foundation wants a nonprofit partner that shares in and will deliver on its mission. Every nonprofit wants to engage a funder that is willing to collaborate and help them grow. But while shared vision and mission are important, they are not everything. What are the elements of a strong and sustainable funder-grantee relationship that drive meaningful change and impact?

The Lavelle Fund for the Blind has long worked in partnership with its grantees to empower people who are blind and visually impaired to lead independent and productive lives. The fund pursues this impact by supporting direct services, such as vision screenings and larger-scale, systems-focused work. While funding direct services provides immediate and measurable benefit, focusing on systems change is more of a long-term investment. 

The fund's work with the nonprofit software organization Benetech falls squarely into the "systems-focused" category. When Benetech launched its Bookshare initiative in 2001 to help blind and visually impaired people access the printed word, the fund recognized the huge impact this technology could have if brought to scale and became one of Benetech's earliest supporters. This support ultimately helped Benetech earn a U.S. government grant to scale Bookshare nationally. Today, Bookshare provides nearly a million individuals who are blind or have other reading barriers with the accessible materials they need to read, learn, and build independent lives....

Read the full commentary by Susan Olivo and Brad Turner, executive director of Lavelle Fund for the Blind and vice president and general manager of global education and literacy at Benetech.

(Photo credit: Benetech)

Health justice and participatory democracy: An interview with Hanh Cao Yu, Chief Learning Officer, California Endowment

October 27, 2021

Headshot_Hanh_Cao_Yu_TCEEven before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, the California Endowment (TCE) had been working to move from Building Healthy Communities, its place-based initiative, to an effort that provides more flexible funding to the organizations and communities it works with to build power across California. For example, TCE increased the share of grant dollars awarded in general operating support from 3 percent in 2010 to 20 percent by 2020.The foundation is on track to further increase flexible funding so that communities and grantees have more freedom to determine how best to use those funds.

Hanh Cao Yu is TCE's chief learning officer, in which role she is responsible for learning, evaluation, and impact activities and ensures that local communities, local and state grantees, board members, and staff understand the results and lessons of the foundation's investments.

PND's Matt Sinclair spoke with Yu about the foundation's effort to promote "People Power" and how the pandemic has affected its relationships with grantees.

Philanthropy News Digest: What does "health equity" mean? How is it different from "health justice," and to what extent has the foundation's idea of "health justice" changed in the wake of the pandemic and its impact, especially on communities of color?

Hanh Cao Yu: For us at the California Endowment, health equity has three parts: We want to achieve the highest level of health for all Californians, improve the systems and conditions of health for all groups, and make sure that those who've experienced racism and socioeconomic and historic injustices are helped and supported — because health equity helps advance social justice.

In terms of health justice, which is also a North Star of ours, the focus is on outcomes, whereas health equity is focused on the process of how we got to where we are today. At the heart of equity is the ability to meaningfully participate, to have a voice, to be heard, and to help set the agenda of the priorities for your community.

Even before the pandemic, TCE was working to achieve health equity in a major initiative called Building Healthy Communities, which is about investing in groups that are serving and led by Black, Indigenous, and people of color fighting for health systems reforms and the transformation of our justice system, as well as equitable public education and more inclusive community economic development.

Health justice is also about robust, participatory democracy, and it's good for equitable community health.

Read the full interview with Hanh Cao Yu.

Review: The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream

October 25, 2021

Book_cover_david_m_rubenstein_the_american_experimentAt seventy-two years old, David M. Rubenstein remains curious and keeps asking questions. The billionaire co-founder of the Carlyle Group, the world's third largest private equity firm, is curious about American history and how that history helps define what being an American actually means. As an investor and philanthropist, Rubenstein is keenly interested in what motivates people and society to do hard things. And while he demurs from calling himself a journalist, on the David Rubenstein Show on Bloomberg News and History with David Rubenstein on PBS, Rubenstein has in recent years pursued a reporter-like thread through conversations exploring the myriad facets of American identity and how they are reflected in our business practices, the arts, our communities, and above all our civic life — that is, how we understand and exercise our rights and obligations as citizens.

The American Experiment: Dialogues on a Dream is Rubenstein's third collection of ideas and interviews exploring the nature of America. While many of these conversations occurred as early as 2017, several took place during the COVID-19 pandemic, some as recently as this summer, giving an existential sharpness and immediacy to Rubenstein's narrative. Rubenstein has been described as a patriotic philanthropist, notably footing the bill for improvements to the Washington Monument and the Jefferson Memorial, among many other gifts. And in a very real sense, The American Experiment is an extension of that philanthropy; sharing his idea of America — his received wisdom — with an America fraught with immense challenges, but gifted with extraordinary opportunity....

Read the full review by Daniel X Matz, foundation web development manager at Candid.

As COVID persists, New York's youth need nonprofits now more than ever

October 22, 2021

Boys_and_girls_town_nycThis was not the "return-to-normal" back-to-school season many of us had hoped for. Remote learning and isolation for more than a year have left many students, especially the most vulnerable, behind. On average, K-12 students are now an estimated five months behind in math and four months behind in reading. And there is a mental health crisis among teenagers hit hard by loneliness. While schools, families, and government agencies continue to provide substantial support for youth, it is simply not enough. Nonprofits are playing a vital role in supporting our youth through this pandemic and its fallout.

As executive director of A Chance In Life, a New York City-based nonprofit that supports at-risk teens through positive youth development, I've seen how essential such organizations have been over the past eighteen months. We operate all over the world and recently opened a center for youth on Staten Island, our first U.S. program. The demand for our services, which include paid internships, food distributions, and afterschool programs, has been high.

As schools, government agencies, and the private sector come together to improve the lives of youth and their families, nonprofits must have a seat at the table. They can help mitigate COVID-related learning loss, provide supportive social reintegration settings, and use their local connections to provide support where other entities fall short.

The negative repercussions of the pandemic on youth and their education are staggering. The effects are even more pronounced for Black, Latinx, and Indigenous students and those from high-poverty districts. Educators are doing everything they can, and I am deeply thankful for their work. But volatile conditions and insufficient funding have put them in an impossible position. Moreover, budget and time constraints limit teaching to core subjects, leaving little room for the additional support many students need.

Nonprofits are perfectly positioned to provide extra support to supplement students' classroom education with free tutoring, afterschool enrichment programs, and distribution of school supplies. They can also broaden students' education to include topics that don't always make it into school curricula, like financial literacy education.

Just as essential are the spaces for social development nonprofits provide — away from the pressures of exams and grades. Teens have been particularly negatively impacted by the social isolation of COVID-19, with 61 percent of young adults surveyed in a recent study reporting feeling lonely. Detachment puts young people at risk for mental health issues including anxiety, depression, and substance abuse.

Nonprofits offer safe, enriching spaces that foster peer-to-peer connections. Whether it is for group tutoring, an internship or a music lesson, it is important to carve out room for teens to be themselves and form bonds away from outside stressors.

In addition, the close community ties many nonprofits forge through their work help them recognize problems sooner. And they can respond with solutions more efficiently because they're less constrained by red tape than government agencies.

As COVID-related budget cuts stretched social services to their limits, nonprofits have been stepping up. A Chance In Life chose Staten Island as the site of our first U.S. program in part because it had fewer social programs than other New York City boroughs. Nonprofits across the country have done the same by setting up shop in neighborhoods that have been most neglected — whether the problem is a lack of public transportation, crowded schools, or food deserts.

For-profit businesses that care about giving back should also work with nonprofits to achieve a meaningful and sustainable impact — for nonprofits are the link to the community. Community-based organizations, their leaders, and staff have built local relationships and know where resources are needed. Nonprofits use their trusted voices to let residents know how to access donations from businesses. They also know where to go in a community to reach the people who need those resources the most.

For example, this past August, we partnered with another community-based organization, Staten Island Community Partnership, and ShopRite to distribute food donated by the supermarket chain. Without the corporate donation, we would have had no food to share with our neighbors, but without our connections with local residents and physical presence in the borough, ShopRite would not have known where to distribute that food.

We may not yet have returned to "normal." But nonprofits are willing, ready, and able to ensure that the nation's youth are supported, no matter the state of the city. I urge those in influential positions — leaders in government, business, and philanthropy — to actively support and include nonprofits as we all work towards solutions to this crisis.

(Photo credit: Boys' and Girls' Town of New York City)

Headshot_Gabriele_Delmonaco_PhilanTopicGabriele Delmonaco is executive director of A Chance In Life, a nonprofit dedicated to providing shelter, education, and development for at-risk youth.

The sustainable nonprofit: Amplifying and validating your message and mission

October 21, 2021

Keyboard_red_donate_button_GettyImagesGivingTuesday, together

In the face of global uncertainty and turmoil during the last eighteen months, many of us came together to find strength and solace in various forms of "community." Around the world, people wrote, logged in, and marched, connecting in new ways to old friends and finding new partners in a common cause. This drive to find and support a community has helped bolster the nonprofit sector, with U.S. charitable giving reaching new heights in 2020. It is this drive that nonprofits must connect with on GivingTuesday — the drive to create partnerships and build engagements. 

Giving days are always about securing buy-in from prospective donors — buy-in of not only the cause itself but of the day's fundraising goals. As prospects see organizations' campaigns and progress toward their goals unfold in real time, they realize that the day's outcome hinges on their sense of community: Do they care enough about the cause to give? Are they engaged enough to share this ask on social media? Do they feel a sense of pride when a milestone is reached or a match is achieved? While the goalpost in fundraising often is seen as the gift itself, on a giving day — especially GivingTuesday, when the nonprofit arena is loud and chaotic — the goal has to be more than the gift. The goal has to be advocacy on your behalf — that is, amplifying and validating your organization's message and mission. 

Achieving that goal requires careful preparation and extensive planning by development staff in the leadup to GivingTuesday. Here are a few steps nonprofits can take to advocate for themselves, expand their communities, and strengthen donor engagement....

Read the full column article by Amanda Lichtenstein, digital content manager at Operation Smile.

(Photo credit: GettyImages)

'The ability to connect more deeply': A Q&A with Eric Pannese

October 19, 2021

Headshot_Eric_Pannese _ClassyEric Pannese, senior vice president of product management and design for the giving platform Classy, has more than twenty years of experience in the technology sector. He joined Classy after two years at Medallia, a SaaS-based customer experience management platform, and in his role leading product development, he will work to ensure the delivery of products that meet the needs of nonprofits to drive increased funding and greater impact.  

PND asked Pannese about the benefits of nonprofits prioritizing digital practices and user experience, the shift toward mobile giving, the impact of Bitcoin and other cryptocurrency giving, and the future of AI use in the nonprofit sector.

Philanthropy News Digest: Nonprofits can be slow tech adopters, given the limited staff time and budget they can dedicate to tech. What are the benefits for nonprofits in prioritizing digital practices such as management platforms, CRM systems, cloud data storage, online dashboards, and digital reporting?

Eric Pannese: The benefits of technology are the same for nonprofits as any other company, which starts with the ability to connect more deeply with customers, or in this case, donors. Modern fundraising platforms, together with CRMs, can collect many data points about the donor and use these to create more personalized experiences, ultimately resulting in more donation revenue for the organization.

Technology can also create internal efficiency as many processes can be automated that were previously manual or nonexistent. Of course, any new platform is going to require an upfront investment in terms of resources to implement. The great news is that modern SaaS (software as a service) platforms are designed to reduce the initial time and cost to implement significantly, putting technology within reach for resource-constrained nonprofits.

With that kind of technology, nonprofits can create intuitive, engaging giving experiences for their donors, which can mean higher conversion rates and more funding. Our platform provides nonprofits with the formats and flexibility to activate donors when and how they need to by creating more relevant connections to their causes. And it allows them to reinforce those connections over time through powerful data and purposeful tools.

Read the full Q&A with Eric Pannese.

'Tips for rapid grantmaking during a global pandemic': A commentary by Sierra Fox-Woods

October 18, 2021

News_mental_health.2Five tips for rapid grantmaking during a global pandemic: Lessons learned supporting adolescent mental health organizations during COVID-19

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic and the widespread losses people have suffered — of loved ones, jobs, safety, and a sense of normalcy — community-based organizations are stepping up to bridge the gaps in social services. While government agencies are slower to move resources in response to real-time and evolving needs, philanthropy can act quickly and mobilize resources through rapid-response grantmaking.

At the Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health, we've seen firsthand the challenges of reviewing high-volume, short-turnaround proposals. The initial concept for the fund was proposed in July 2020 as a collaborative COVID-relief fund at Panorama to focus on adolescent mental health and well-being, and was seeded by Melinda French Gates' Pivotal Ventures with additional support from the Klarman Family Foundation. Over the course of three months, we developed a grantmaking and implementation strategy supported by an advisory committee of practitioners, policy experts, and researchers, and issued a request for proposals in late October, with applications open for six weeks. The fund received 485 proposals from forty states and the District of Columbia, and to date has awarded more than $11 million to ninety-two organizations.

We'd like to share five considerations for rapid grantmaking that were critical to our process and designed in the spirit of advancing trust-based philanthropy. Some validated our own grantmaking principles at Panorama, such as the importance of giving general operating support grants, while others were unique to processes required to execute on an expedited timeline....

Read the full commentary by Sierra Fox-Woods, a program officer for Panorama's Upswing Fund for Adolescent Mental Health.

 

Building better futures for young refugees through education

October 14, 2021

Globe_handsThe emergency evacuation that recently unfolded in Afghanistan once again placed a spotlight on the plight of the world's refugees. It is a recurring crisis. In fact, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees estimates that of the 82.4 million people forcibly displaced from their countries in 2020 due to persecution, conflict, human rights violations, or other events, thirty-five million were under the age of 18. That's a staggering number of young people forced to live without the support, structure, and safety of their communities and unable to move beyond their present circumstances.

Tragically, education, which is so essential for young people to achieve their full potential, is overlooked when considering the welfare of refugees.

While working in Angola in the late 2000s, I saw firsthand the downstream consequences for people who grew up in refugee camps or far from their home communities with limited to no access to education. Make no mistake: Fleeing to neighboring countries allowed those young people to avoid forced conscription, brutal and violent war, and in many cases death. But few had the opportunity to pursue education beyond elementary school, and this no doubt hampered the post-war development of Angola, a country that experienced one of the longest civil wars of the twentieth century.

The current situation in Afghanistan is equally as urgent and dire. Afghan students and academics are under daily threat. We have not forgotten the attacks in 2016 on the American University of Afghanistan, when fifteen people were killed and at least fifty injured, including students, professors, and staff.  

To offer one solution to the ongoing refugee crisis in Afghanistan and around the world, the Institute of International Education (IIE) has launched and funded a new scholarship for student refugees and displaced persons. The IIE Odyssey Scholarship covers tuition, housing, and living expenses for refugees and displaced students pursing undergraduate or graduate degrees for the duration of their degree programs. We also created new scholarships for students from the now closed American University of Afghanistan. With these scholarships, displaced students will be able to safely continue their studies at college campuses abroad.   

In designing the Odyssey Scholarship, we leveraged our global network and expertise from within our regional offices. A regional approach has an additional benefit because 73 percent of displaced people are hosted by countries in the same region, according to UNHCR.

In addition, the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD) has launched the Hilde Domin Programme, which supports students who are denied education in their home country. In Mexico, Proyecto Habesha began by supporting young people fleeing Syria, offering Spanish language training, financing, relocation support, and opportunities to study at Mexican universities. Their unique public-private programs grew over time, and today Proyecto Habesha brings displaced students from all over the world to live and learn in Mexico.

For all of these programs, the goal is to enable students to learn, grow, and one day return home to rebuild their countries. However, more must be done. At a time when crises around the world are worsening, resources for the displaced are severely lacking.

We know from our more than hundred-year history the importance of education in unlocking human potential. When young people have the opportunity to pursue their studies in safety and security, there is no limit to what they can accomplish. At IIE, we design and grow high-impact programs and make our programs sustainable by fundraising and building endowments that are prudently invested and managed. This is the model under which our longstanding programs and the new Odyssey Scholarship operate. 

IIE and our international network of colleges and universities have been working to provide practical solutions to threatened students from all over the globe and secure their safety. Real solutions require long-term commitment and support. We cannot allow for a lost generation among the refugee community. The resilience and determination we are seeing from displaced students and scholars should encourage us all to find a way to help.

Headshot_Jason_Czyz_IIE_PhilanTopicJason Czyz is executive vice president and chief financial officer of the Institute of International Education.

Quote of the Week

  • "[L]et me assert my firm belief that the only thing we have to fear is...fear itself — nameless, unreasoning, unjustified terror which paralyzes needed efforts to convert retreat into advance...."


    — Franklin D. Roosevelt, 32nd president of the United States

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