A Story of Big Dreamers.

Big DreamersA Colorful Story by Özgür Karaosmanoğlu

As I grow older, I often find myself thinking about my parents and how blessed I am to have them. My parents taught me that the key to a happy life comes from working hard, being fair and giving back to those in need. It’s these virtues they passionately believed in and passed on to me made me who I am today.

Let me introduce you to my mother first. My mother, Şükriye, was born in a small town in Turkey. As a determined woman, she worked her way from a small village to an ivy-league school with a merit-based scholarship. She is the first woman from Muğla to study at Columbia University. She continued to surprise people with her intelligence and energy as she finished her undergraduate and graduate studies in a total of three years. It took me long time to believe that since I thought it was a trick to make me study harder in high school. To me, she is the perfect example of what young women can accomplish when they are provided with opportunities. Throughout her life, she has passionately supported equality in education. She took the lead in various nonprofit organizations, and advocated for quality education and gender equality. She told her story to young women, hoping to inspire them as well as to other listeners, to show them what women are capable of. And, she still does.

She inspired many people along the way including my father, Attila. My father’s story is a bit different yet as powerful and meaningful as my mother’s. He was a true bookworm -famous for reading all the books he could get his hands on since his childhood. He was also curious by nature, which made encyclopedias his favorite treat to read. A man, who enjoyed books this much naturally loved school. He started his studies in Political Science and moved towards Economics as he completed his PhD. His career, which started at the World Bank continued in the Turkish government. As a Deputy Prime Minister of Turkey, he worked hard with his cabinet, conducted detailed researches and drafted economic policies to develop Turkey economically and socially. He dreamed big but understood that turning your dreams into reality is not always in your hands. When he wasn’t allowed to put the policies he and his team drafted into action, he resigned from his position. He went back to the World Bank and rose to become a Managing Director of the Bank. He also taught as a part-time lecturer at NYU as well as Harvard University.

My father met my mother in New York City in the 50s during his time at NYU. They got married in 1960. Through my mother, my father realized how privileged he was as a man. He learned about the other side of the coin and how women face inequalities throughout their whole lives. This understanding made him fight hard against gender discrimination in the workplace. He did his best to hire female employees just as capable as men and promoted his female colleagues when given the opportunity. He was already a passionate supporter of education yet with the influence of my mother he also became a champion of  women’s rights.

My father was a great parent, husband and grandfather. However, most importantly, he was a great man. Throughout his life, he believed in moving forward through education and helping others. After he passed away from a respiratory failure, we turned our sorrow into a way of making his legacy live forever by establishing a memorial fund named after him at TPF. We invited his friends and colleagues to donate to the Attila Karaosmanoğlu Fund to support young and bright students. All the funds raised in his memory, are distributed by Çağdaş Yaşamı Destekleme Derneği as scholarships to students with financial difficulties. After witnessing the impact we made through his memorial fund, we decided to make his impact last forever. We transformed his memorial fund into a Donor Advised Fund. Since then, we are providing scholarships to his alma mater, Karşıyaka High School and the Faculty of Political Science at Ankara University annually. Through this fund, we are keeping a part of him, his passion for education, alive. Even though he has never met any of our scholarship recipients, we know that my father would’ve been proud of each and every one of them. We looking forward to see the difference they are going to make in the world someday, just like my father.

Small Projects Istanbul

_37C5297Since the beginning of the civil war in Syrian, majority of Syrian population has been forced to leave the country. This left millions of Syrians as refugees all over the world, including Turkey. They all need to deal with dire circumstances. Yet, the children, who are labeled as “the lost generation”, are the ones impact the most. They face many obstacles from language barrier and racial discrimination to financial hurdles as they try to adapt to a new way of life in Turkey. TPF’s newest partner, Small Projects Istanbul (SPI) works to impact the lives of these children.

Small Projects Istanbul came to life through volunteer efforts of an Australian expat, Karyn Thomas. Karyn, an early childhood education specialist moved to Syria to work with Iraqi refugees. During her time at Yarmouk Camp to provide relief to the refugees, she came to realize how much Syrian children are missing out on school due to war. Believing that education is the greatest tool for these children to create themselves a new life in the future, Karyn decided to take an action. She decided to take the responsibility of a 17 year-old Palestinian girl’s education expenses at the camp. As Karyn sponsored a girl’s education, she came to realize that individual contributions can make a big difference. So she spread the word through her family and friends and reached out to thousands all over the world. Forced to leave Syria because of the conflict in 2013, Karyn moved to Istanbul and Small Projects Istanbul came to life through countless individual contributions.

Based in Fatih, a neighborhood, which accommodates thousands of Syrian refuges, SPI established a community center- The Olive Tree Community Education Center. Since 2013, they are teaching Turkish to refugee children so that they can continue their education and feel at home in Turkey. They are also providing English, French and German lessons so that these children can move forward in their careers someday. In addition to language courses, refugee children participate in various artistic workshops such as music, dance, painting and theater. There are currently more than 200 kids benefiting from The Olive Tree Community Education Center’s daily classes and activities. The numbers are likely to grow since children who learn Turkish keep going to The Olive Tree, where they feel welcome, safe and at home.

SPI also runs a craft collective at The Olive Tree to empower Syrian refugee women. At The Olive Tree, participating women develop their hand crafting skills, create unique handmade objects and earn an income to support their families through the sales. To change the lives of refugee children and women, take a look at SPI’s projects. Your support will help refugee families to get back on their feet and create the new generation of leaders.

The Story Behind a Wedding

Damla & Anil

This is the story of a couple who surprised their guests with unusual wedding favors: supporting a cause they passionately believe in- education.

Let us tell you more about this couple and their motivation of giving back on their special day. The bride, Damla is in the marketing industry while the groom, Anıl specializes in real estate investment. Even though they were both born and raised in Turkey, their paths intercepted in New York City. After being together for three years, they decided to make vows for ‘forever and ever’. As they started to plan their wedding, they came to realize that besides their promises to each other and photographs full of wonderful memories, nothing is going to remain from that day. With a mission to leave a mark on their special day, they started to brainstorm for wedding favors. A magnet carved with their wedding date or a cute box full of truffles? None of these favors seemed lasting to them. Then, a wonderful idea hit them- donating to a cause they truly believe in would make that lasting impact they wished for.

Damla and Anıl believe in the gift of education in changing someone’s life as they both are grateful for the education they received to accomplish their life goals. Their choice was simple: Darüşşafaka Society since the organization gives a hand to children with one or no parents. They couldn’t be more happy to turn their wedding favors into education opportunities for children. At their wedding, which took place in Istanbul, each place setting featured a card, printed by the young couple. It said: “To support “equality in education”, we donated to Darüşşafaka Society in your name on our happiest day.”

We couldn’t be happier that this young couple chose TPF to manage their special and powerful way to say “Thank You” to their guests. We know that they made the lasting impact on children’s lives with their gift as they wished. As we say it in Turkish, “Bir yastıkta kocasınlar”, we wish them all the best and to grow old together, side by side on one pillow. You can also gift education, equality at your wedding to spread more joy around you.

In Solidarity with Istanbul

Istanbul FundAt least 41 people were killed while more than 230 people are seriously injured by the terrorist attack in Istanbul Airport yesterday. The attack on Europe’s third-busiest airport is noted to be the deadliest in a series of suicide bombings this year in Turkey. As Turkish society condemns this shocking attack, millions around the world show their support for Turkey through social media.

Here is how you can help:

-Support Victims and Their Families
Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF), a U.S. based 501(c)(3) organization, established the Istanbul Fund to support the victims, their loved ones and Turkish community at large. As a nonprofit organization who partners with 49 local organizations in Turkey, TPF will transfer the Istanbul Fund donations to its partners on the ground. Istanbul Fund will support the victims and families struck by this attack as well as other related needs not yet anticipated.

– If you’re local, give blood
If you are in Istanbul and would like to contribute, check out Turkish Red Cross’ twitter page to see where your help might be needed.

-United we stand, divided we fall
Show your solidarity with Turkish community. Share what you think and know about the attack on social media. No matter where we are all from, we are all one against terrorism.

Tax-deductible contributions to the #IstanbulFund at TPF may be made online, or by mailing a check with “Istanbul Fund” to Turkish Philanthropy Funds, 216 E. 45th St, 7th Fl., New York, NY 10017. For any questions related to #IstanbulFund, please contact info@tpfund.org , 646.530.8987

#StandUnited

13413362_104291259998413_1692850351_nTPF is deeply saddened by the mass shooting on a nightclub in Orlando, Florida on June 12th. We stand in solidarity with Orlando in the wake of this tragedy. We believe hate-motivated violence is unacceptable and is an attack on our shared American values of inclusion, respect, diversity and choice. We extend our deepest condolences to all families who lost their loved ones and our sympathy to all that were injured.

OneOrlando Fund was established as a joint initiative of the Central Florida Foundation, the region’s community foundation; and the City of Orlando to help meet the needs of the diverse Orlando community in the aftermath of this tragedy. The OneOrlando Fund will support:

  • Nonprofits that are supporting the victims and families
  • The LGBTQ, Hispanic, faith and other affected communities
  • Underlying causes of this tragic event
  • Other related needs not yet anticipated

You can make your tax-deductible donations directly to One Orlando Fund.