Women’s Political Participation on the Rise

This past week’s local elections have shown a positive move for women’s participation in politics in Turkey. The number of elected female mayors has risen 30% from the last elections and for the first time women will be running metropolitan municipalities, three in fact: Diyarbakir, Gaziantep and Aydin.

Up until this past week, only 5% of all mayors were women and none of them were running metropolitan municipalities. Now, out of the three female winners, two of which will be running major cities in the southeastern region, which is famous for it’s traditional gender roles.

Previous Minister of Family and Social Policies, Fatma Sahin, regularly spoke on gender issues in Turkey. Born in Gaziantep, the city that she was elected to run, she was previously quoted saying women, were, in fact, the driving force behind development. She’s also publicly recognized that Turkey lags behind in terms of women’s political participation and employment.

Having won mayorship in Diyarbakir, Gultan Kisanak, was previously co-chair of the Peace and Democracy Party (BDP). Gultan has been outspoken about the rights of the Kurdish and Alevi minorities in Turkey.

Finally, Ozlem Cercioglu was re-elected as mayor of the western city of Aydin. Aydin recently became a metropolitan municipality in September of 2012. She hails from the Republican People’s Party (CHP) and is known for being a prominent industrialist, who previously served at CHP deputy.

In southeastern Turkey, a region where forty-five percent of women cannot read or right, women were making unprecedented gains. The first woman mayor of Hakkari, Dilek Hatipoglu, was elected, Fatma Toru became mayor of Konya’s Meram district and Havva Yıldırım became mayor of Ankara’s Güdül district.

UNDP’s Cihan Sultanoglu noted that in the southeast, only three percent of women engage in paid labor. We can only hope that by giving the women and girls in this region a political role model, it will have a positive impact on their futures.  Allowing young girls in Turkey to pave their own futures and not fall into whatever cultural role is placed before them is a road we could see in the making.

In honor of the Scotts and Edmonds’

Just recently, at TPF we all rejoiced as we clicked ‘send’ to disperse the last portion of a grant to Tarsus American College Alumni Association (TAC-AA), bringing their total amount received to $120,000. The funds are going to be used to give scholarships to students coming from low-income families, but with the right test scores to admit them to the school. Through a project called “Bir Tugla Sende Koy”, TAC-AA has been providing scholarships to students for over five years. But we wouldn’t even be discussing this grant if it weren’t for three motivated individuals(Haldun Tashman, Zafer Ecevit and Marz Attar) that wanted to create a memorial fund in the name of their favorite teachers. Talas American School alumni joined forces to honor two stellar families of teachers that impacted their lives. Talas American School has closed since their graduation, however, the alumni were excited to choose TAC-AA as the recipient of the scholarship fund.

These two teachers lived extraordinary lives, challenging the norm in the 1940s and 50s. Mr. John Scott and Mr. Bill Edmonds both moved to Turkey, on different accords, but both found themselves teaching at Talas. At this all boys’ middle school, 12-year olds arrived as little boys but left as young, responsible, older boys ready to make an impact on the world.

Their parent’s left an enormous amount of trust in their teachers, and they did so quite rightfully.
Scott moved to Turkey straight out of college. Deeply interested in world peace and understanding among all nations, he believed Turkey would make a great impact one day. He was a passionate teacher and a devoted citizen of the community. Through work camps and community service projects with students at Talas, students and colleagues grew to love and honor him for his positive energy. Mr. Scott worked as the headmaster and Mrs. Scott the librarian, offering a huge majority of their time to Talas. The Edmonds’ were just as involved in student activity at Talas. Mr. Bill Edmonds was the head of the Music department while Anna worked in the English department. As another couple that put education and creativity first before anything, they were revered and loved.

 Fast forward 55 years, and the students of these teachers can still feel the impression they made on their careers and lives. As the students pondered how they could thank them in a way that would equate to what was given to them, TPF came to their minds. As an organization that specializes in helping donors shape their giving to Turkey, they knew that an education fund would be best fit. In their honor, Talas American College alumni, Haldun Tashman (’59), Zafer Ecevit (’59) and Marz Attar (’59) opened a Donor Advised Fund with TPF. The three of them, plus Erkan Esmer (’56), Tamer Seckin, Aydin Koc and many more donated towards the donor advised fund.  Over a few years, through donations from FABSIT, too, the group raised $120,000 to give in the name of Mr. and Mrs. Scott and Mr. and Mrs. Edmonds.

TPF helped these Alumni seamlessly form an innovative way to honor individuals that meant most to them by playing the intermediary between the donor and the final recipient. TPF gave tax-deductions to all donors, which wouldn’t have been possible if they had given directly to TAC. It also held onto the donations, which accrued interest, until the group was ready to disperse funds.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds can do the same for you. To learn how, call or email us. We’ll help you through the process and cater to your philanthropic needs.

Turkey, Gender and the MDGs

TPF is happy to announce the success of their inaugural event, Turning Monologues into Dialogues, speaker series featuring Dr. Gülden Türktan, President of KAGIDER and Elmira Bayrasli, co-founder of Foreign Policy Interrupted.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds’ Turning Monologues into Dialogues Speaker Series features leading names in philanthropy and social entrepreneurship to share strategies behind today’s success stories, inspire innovative thinking and advance new solutions to current social problems in the US and in Turkey.


Generous Tax Tricks

Assets in donor-advised funds hit $45 billion in 2012, as yearly contributions rose to $13.7 billion–equal to 45% of the amount contributed to private foundations that year, up from 36% in 2007, the National Philanthropic Trust calculates. “People once thought it was the lesser choice of a foundation, but now DAFs are the fastest-growing charitable vehicle out there,” NPT Vice President Andrew Hastings says.

Hear more on why donors are choosing Donor Advised Funds as vehicles for donations via this Forbes article.











Leaving Behind a Story

Years ago, Dr. Sami Solu (seen left) made a decision to create a legacy fund. Now, years later, students are benefiting from his smart investment decisions and money managing skills.

Legacy funds can be created at TPF with principal balance of which will continue to earn interest and impact future generations long after the donor is gone.

TPF spoke with his daughter-in-law Ozlem Oge, who revealed a fascinating account of how she came to the point of contacting us to make a donation.

Ms. Oge recently contacted Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi (CYDD) looking for an organization where they can make their tax-deductible donation. Something that really excites us as an organization is hearing our donors stories, learning why they want to donate and what has inspired them to give to a specific cause.

Ms. Oge had a unique story. Generally donors have never been on the receiving end of scholarships. But not in this case. Ozlem knew exactly what it felt like to work extremely hard, but still not have enough funds to educate her son. She was heartbroken. Her son contacted CYDD. Within months funds were coming in. It made the world of a difference. With the help of a scholarship from CYDD, he was able to continue his studies and even made the decision to come to the U.S. He is currently pursuing a B.A. in Political Science student in Topeka, Kansas.

On one of Ms. Oge’s trips to the U.S. to visit her son, she met someone who later became her husband. It is because of his father, Dr. Sami Solu, that we can write this story. Ozlem never had the chance to meet her late father-in-law, or to express how grateful she was for his initiative of  creating a legacy fund, designed to benefit and support social issues in Turkey.  However, ecstatic to learn about his fund, Ms. Oge’s first move was to give back to CYDD. And that is where they came upon TPF. As a catalyst for U.S. based donors, we were able to serve Ms. Oge just as she wished. The money in Dr. Sami Solu’s legacy fund will be used as scholarships to benefit medical students in Turkey.

Dr. Solu had worked for years in the U.S. as an emergency care doctor. He is a graduate of Ankara University Faculty of Medicine. His first stop in the US was Memorial Hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Then, he served at many hospitals in the US from Colorado, New York to North Carolina. In 1972, Dr. Solu became the first director of Robinson Memorial Hospital’s Emergency Department in Ravenna, Ohio, and retired as a honorary staff from the department.Until his passing in 2011, Dr. Solu was a proponent of the advancement of emergency care in Turkey. He was a devoted physician and family man.

Ms. Oge couldn’t be happier to be making a difference in students’ lives around Turkey. She, herself, was immensely affected by the scholarships given by CYDD. She understands the power they have to make great things happen and hopes to have more impact through Dr. Solu’s legacy fund.