Mother’s Day Letter from Serife

Happy Mother’s Day!

My name is Şerife. I am a 19-year-old working mother of two beautiful children. Proud is the first word that comes to mind when I’m asked how I feel about working to support my family.

For the past two years I’ve taken advantage of an amazing opportunity to learn the trade of kilim weaving. Each day, I arrive at the workshop ready to create beautiful works of art for clients around the world. With the other girls in the workshop, we share stories, cook and form lifelong friendships. A large portion of our day is dedicated to our schooling and learning to read and write. I’ve never attended a school, but now I am completely literate.

The ability to support your family, which in my case, includes extended family, is an amazing feeling. I stride through life with a sense of purpose, feeling independent. I no longer have to ask my husband for money to buy clothes for my baby or anything else. Each kilim I weave and each lesson I learn is for my newborn daughter, women and mothers all over Turkey, who don’t have the same opportunity I do.

Funding from Turkish Philanthropy Funds is essential to run the kilim weaving workshops run by

Hisar Anadolu Destek Derneği (Hisar Anatolian Support Society). With your help, we have the ability to reach more women and mothers who share my dream.

Please join me in supporting the remarkable work TPF Team does in providing opportunities to women and girls in Turkey every day.



Make a tax-deductible gift today.

And, also join the online discussion by using the hashtag #thanksmom on twitter and on TPF facebook page by honoring and remembering your own mother.

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.