Join us for a 10K Color Run

rsz_shutterstock_249233002It’s that time of the year again, Team TPF is running a 10K. Meet us on Saturday, October 30th at Governors Island to raise awareness of our mission and change the way world feels about giving.

Register for Color Run here. Then, start your fundraiser to help us reach our goal.

Can’t make it? Be a cheerleader and support us by donating.

Our Chairman and Vice-Chairman will match all donations 1:1 up to $20,000.

Supporting Turkey

Color Run is a fundraiser supporting Color Turkey campaign created by Turkish Philanthropy Funds, a community foundation dedicated to improving civil society in Turkey. Color Turkey Campaign aims to actively make a difference in: Gender Equality, Children Rights, Youth Empowerment, Environment, Education, Disaster Relief, Literacy, Equality, Violence Against Women, Health and Community Philanthropy.

Join our efforts to overpower challenges with colors and be a part of impact in Turkey.

Equal Yet Different

Equal Yet DifferentCelal was 11 months old when he caught polio, an infectious disease, which causes muscle weakness resulting in inability to move. While there are common vaccines used as a precaution against polio, it was 1980 when Celal suffered from the illness. Since Turkey was under the rule of coup at that moment, Celal’s family couldn’t get Celal to have polio vaccine when he was born. Celal went through 13 serious surgeries until he started junior high. However, he never let his health hold him back in life. He continued his education and enjoyed sports just as any other young boy, only with the addition of a wheelchair. But sadly, as he grew up he came to realize that the system and society do not embrace disabled people. He still remembers how his parents fought with his high school officials to move his classroom to entry level. No matter how many times they requested, Celal’s classroom stayed on the 3rd floor until he graduated. Or how he could play soccer only as a goalkeeper because of his reluctant teammates, even though he had the talent to rock as a striker.

Celal started to take on new challenges as he grew up. Famous for his fairness and honesty, Celal became indispensable for soccer teams in his neighborhood as their most trusted referee. Soon, he started to coach one of the local teams. This made him feel accepted by the society but didn’t satisfy him because he wasn’t active in the field. So he turned his attention towards basketball and happily discovered that “basketball wheelchairs” really do exist. Motivated by such equipment, Celal started to train around the clock. Even though he broke his shinbone, he didn’t give up and made it to men’s national wheelchair basketball team despite his family’s concerns. He traveled the world through tournaments and discovered that other national teams have more modern and customizable wheelchairs, which improves the performance of players. At the tournaments, Turkish team lost to all of their opponents with huge score differences. That’s when he understood that his team would never be good as others because of limited resources, few trainers and poor equipment provided to them. Celal experienced the same struggle when he played table tennis internationally a few years later.

In 2004, he decided give up on his active sports career to establish his own sports club to train children in European the standards. At the age of 25, he founded his foundation, Youth with Disabilities Sports Club, our newest partner, which offers a comprehensive support program including sports activities, socializing opportunities, career guidance for both disabled and non-disabled youth. As he worked tirelessly to create a unique space where everyone can be equal yet different, Celal faced many obstacles. Their first club was located at the basement of a residential building in Adana because he didn’t have enough financial means to get a bigger and proper space. They trained 25 disabled young people in 300 square meters for years. After many meetings with public authorities and hunger strikes, Youth with Disabilities Sports Club moved to 8 acres land to continue its activities.

Today, all children regardless of their background, gender and physical status are welcomed at Youth with Disabilities Sports Club. Both disabled and non-disabled children train for all kinds of sports. They also participate at math, guitar and many other workshops and learn to live together equally. What’s next? Establishing new sport clubs in other cities and reaching out to a broader audience with a mission to get acceptance and respect for disabled youth in our society. Take a look at their project to support them reach out to thousands of children.

Youth Without Borders

Youth Without BordersMeet Buse, a 22-year-old young woman who was diagnosed with Cerebral Palsy (CP) when she was a child. In case you’re not familiar with the term, cerebral palsy is a permanent movement disorder, which causes poor coordination, stiff muscles; and sensation, vision, hearing and speaking problems. One out of three people with CP also have learning difficulty. Sadly, it’s not a condition, which can be cured but with proper treatment, people with CP disorder might be helped.

One of those people who have a chance to receive a long-term physical treatment is Buse. Buse receives hippotherapy, horseback riding as a rehabilitation treatment, from one of our partners, Elele Foundation. Since joining Elele Foundation’s hippotherapy sessions, Buse’s eye contact, reflexes and awareness of other people around her improved so much that her physiotherapist was mesmerized by her unusually fast development. For the first time in her life, she was able to sit and walk independently after receiving special treatment for six months.

Another amazing teenager who overcame many challenges through hippotherapy is Taha. Taha was only a baby when he was diagnosed with autism, a neurodevelopmental syndrome. Growing up, he wasn’t able to care for himself and engage in human interactions. As he was severely unaware of dangers, he often harmed himself by jumping in front of cars or touching extremely hot objects. After completing hippotherapy sessions for a year through Elele Foundation, Taha became conscious of objects and people around him. He is now able to protect himself from any harm. What’s next for him? Learning how to care for himself independently.

There are thousands of children with disabilities just like Buse and Taha in Turkey. But only 18 of them are able to join Elele Foundation’s 1-year-long hippotherapy sessions because of limited financial resources. As Nuraltay family stated their wish to change the lives of many in their will, TPF granted over $34,000 from Nuraltay Family Foundation to Elele Foundation with a goal to enable disabled teenagers join its rehabilitation program. Thanks to the generosity of Neriman and Ilhan Nuraltay, now disabled children are gaining self-esteem and independence and improving their social and mobility skills.

Partners in Crime.

koc familyA Colorful Story by Hülya Koç

They say birds of the same feather flock together. I believe that’s why my husband  Aydin and I developed a productive rapport and strong personal feelings for each other very quickly after being introduced by family members when we were in our twenties. We were both energetic, hard working and competent business executives. Naturally, our skill sets and world view have evolved over the years as we have grown old together, but our core values have remained the same regardless of the years passing by. Thanks to this solid foundation, our marriage of 40 years has always been harmonious and a refuge against the challenges of modern life. After realizing that we make a great team in our personal life, we decided to see if we could do the same in the business world.

Together, we established a temporary staffing agency in the Bay Area focusing on the education field. My specialty was operations – recruitment of personnel and customers, while Aydin was great with numbers and focused on longer term, strategic matters. We were able to grow the firm into an operation with a dozen offices, serving hundreds of customers and placing thousands of personnel every week. Our agency became a leader in its industry and attracted attention for its profitable growth trajectory. After several inquiries, our firm was acquired by two private equity investment companies. We are gratified that it continues to make progress towards becoming a national operation. Afterwards, we have continued to focus on our strengths – investing in promising high tech, retail and service start-ups and mentoring young entrepreneurs.

In addition to angel investing, Aydin and I share another passion – philanthropy. We both grew up in families who taught us to share and give back to our communities. Since the first day we’ve earned an income, we have done our best to make our parents proud as we honor this  principle. As a woman and an entrepreneur, I’ve always been sensitive about gender inequality, discrimination and economic empowerment of women. As a father of two daughters, Aydin felt the same way. Naturally, we chose to make an impact with our personal philanthropy in education and women entrepreneurship, with a mission to equip women with the tools they need to overcome challenges.

Our philanthropic involvement grew stronger when Aydin joined TPF’s Board after meeting Turkish Philanthropy Funds’ (TPF) Founder, Haldun Tashman. We quickly realized that TPF, with its community foundation structure offered a platform for substantial philanthropy for Turkish-Americans that did not exist before. It also allowed us to customize our philanthropic passions and make an impact in Turkey as we continued to live in the U.S.

In 2015, when we began to seriously consider selling our home of 29 years – where our daughters had grown up and which had appreciated in value considerably – it was natural for us to also explore philanthropic solutions involving TPF. After further research, we felt that establishing a Charitable Remainder Trust would satisfy our objectives in the best possible way. We sold our house and with part of the sale proceeds, we also established a permanent fund at TPF. Through this fund, our legacy will live forever. As we cherish the memories of our old house, we are happy that we got our wish – making a long-term contribution to causes of our interest in Turkey.

Girl Power

img_25991This is the story of five girls whose lives transformed with Educ8 Program. A story that shows “being a girl” or “coming from a low-income family” does not necessarily mean that you can’t realize your dreams. We’d like to you to meet Dilhan, Gonul, Kesire, Yagmur and Yesim. These young women with sparkles in their eyes, stepped on to a plane to travel abroad for the first time in their lives from the farms of Adiyaman and slums of Istanbul. They came to NYC to grow themselves so that their dreams are more reachable. It was through hard work, determination and incredibly supportive families that they’ve made it here.

Educ8 Program brings exceptionally young women from disadvantaged communities to NYC for a one-month of English program. However, the main goal of the project is much more than improving the participants’ language abilities. It is to change their perspective of life and discover their potential. During the program, participants meet with successful professionals from different fields and discover new career opportunities as they listen to their experiences. This year, selected young women had an opportunity to visit the most intriguing corporate company offices such as Google, NASDAQ and Chobani. What could be more inspiring than having a cup of yogurt with the founder of Chobani and listening his success story, which started in the same demographics as the participants? In addition to meeting amazing people as they visited legendary NYC offices, these young women also had a chance to visit city’s most gorgeous artifacts and famous universities, which made their journey unforgettable.

As we enjoyed meeting these young women during their visit, we couldn’t help but notice how hardworking and determined they are to excel in life. Kesire is at her 3rd year studying Psychology at Ege University and she holds the title of top student since she was five years old. While Yesim, 3rd year Bioengineering major at Ege University, is one of the two female students in the entire program. Her story shatters the myth that engineering is just for boys. We admired Gonul’s commitment to becoming a Psychologist who commutes 4 hours a day to be able to go to school and uses her time on the bus to study. While Dilhan, a medical student at Akdeniz Unviersity, works with her farmer family who grows corn and wheat and help them with the crop during summers.

As these young women focused on their passions and dreams despite all the obstacles such as poverty and discrimination, their families have been a huge support to them. Yagmur’s mother, a true supporter of education, never hesitated to work as a cleaning lady to be able to send her daughters to school. She never let her daughters to work and made sure they were focused on their education. As Yagmur defines her mother as her ‘light’, she did her best to make her proud. She is studying to become a science teacher at one of the top universities in Turkey, Middle Eastern Technical University. Another supportive family is Kesire’s, who lost her father before she was born. But her father’s family kindly took her mother and her siblings under their wings. Her grandfather and uncle, whom she defines as uptight, have many rules in their house. But when it comes to education, they gave her full support.

Meeting Yagmur, Yesim, Dilhan, Kesire and Gonul and listening to their aspiring stories gave us so much hope for the future. Thanks to them, we’ve witnessed once again that nothing is impossible for hard working and bright young women. We have no doubt that they will realize their dreams and make a change in the world. Huge thanks to those who supported Educ8 Program! They gave these women a chance to discover new horizons and gave us hope for the future.