Weaving Hope

“Both of my parents died when I was young. I was raised by my grandmother and uncle. My uncle wanted to marry me off in exchange for a dowry when I was 16. He needed the money to care for the family. I spoke to my teacher about it and my teacher got me in touch with Hisar Anadolu Destek Dernegi (HADD). Servet Harunoglu, [one of the founders and current Chairman of HADD], and my teacher convinced my uncle so I can join HADD. The fact that I would bring in income to the household was what persuaded him. I have been coming to HADD Social Center for three years now and am the sole breadwinner in the family,” recites Ayse when asked about her story.

Economic hardship is one of the drivers of early marriages in Eastern Turkey. Some families marry away their daughters just to reduce the expenses of the household. Since young women have very few options to make a living many families see this solution as the only viable one. HADD for the last eight years has been working to give opportunities to these young women so they can have a different future.

HADD believes that skill enhancing workshops are powerful weapons against poverty and are the best investments towards women’s empowerment. One of the teachers at the Center, Reyhan, when explaining the organization’s ultimate goal of improving the employability of and income-earning opportunities for women notes, “we’d like to get these young women out of the house and give them the skills they need to become independent members of the society.” The workshops at the Center concentrate on kilim weaving, scarf designing, and beekeeping.
“Most of the girls we help have dropped out or had never been schooled,” says Servet Harunoglu. He noted that currently there are 130 women benefiting from the Center. Besides vocational training, these young women take literacy and computer classes. Some young women even took exams to graduate from high school after dropping out with the support of HADD and got into college.

“We are very proud of our accomplishments. Yet, HADD will be a success story when there are no young women that need HADD’s workshops. Until then, we will continue providing for these young women,” says Servet Harunoglu

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Call Centers to Give Hope.

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Huseyin, aspired to be an IT specialist, was in his second year in college when he had to leave his homeland and took refuge in Turkey. He assumed he would resume his studies in Information Technology. However, things did not unfold as he had imagined. “After leaving my war-torn country of Syria, I was hoping I would continue my education in Turkey. But I didn’t speak the language and wasn’t familiar with registering myself to a Turkish university. I felt alone. Eventually, I learned Turkish but I still did not have access to information on how to get into college. It was very difficult to navigate around the system that I wasn’t accustomed to. I got depressed and gave up on my dream of finishing college,” says Huseyin. This is the reality many young refugees face in Turkey.

The percentage of young refuges attending Turkish colleges is alarming. Today 480,000 Syrian refugees aged 18-22 lives in Turkey. Only 20,000, a mere four percent, are college students. The situation poses a threat to the livelihoods of these young refugees. It is vital that they get the education they need to integrate into the Turkish society. If the situation is not changed, an uneducated “lost generation” will not be equipped to participate in the formal economy and create a future for themselves. INGEV Foundation is trying to change that!

İNGEV Foundation’s “HOPES – Education is a Must” project is an outcome of a rigorous analysis of studying the needs of young refugees in Turkey. A Counseling Committee of 35 people from various government and non-governmental organizations had a deep look into the best ways to integrate these young refugees into the society. “Although a challenge, it is vital that we work towards integrating these young people to Turkish education system and empower them through education,” says Basak Tuzun, Project Manager at INGEV.

A call center came out of this rigorous research where young refugees who are planning to continue their higher education receive counseling on various subjects such as how to get into Turkish universities, application process, university selection, scholarship and dormitory options and Turkish language lessons. The call center’s support is in Arabic. An online counseling module has also been developed. The Call Center will start operating in June.

Huseyin does not have a full career plan yet but now he has hope to get where he wants to go.

You can answer their call by supporting INGEV’s efforts.

Afşin Yurdakul named as the first Robert L. Long Nieman Fellow 


New York (May 16, 2018) – Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) and the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard are pleased to announce that Ms. Afşin Yurdakul has been selected as the first Robert L. Long Nieman Fellow. The fellowship honors the memory of journalist, filmmaker and news executive Robert L. Long and supports the work of exceptional Turkish journalists. Joan Rebecca Siregar-Long, Long’s widow, established the program to support Turkish Nieman Fellows. It is the first fellowship to be created at the Nieman Foundation specifically dedicated to Turkish journalists.

Afşin Yurdakul is currently an anchor and correspondent at Turkey’s Habertürk News Network, where she hosts daily news and weekly current affairs shows. She previously was the network’s chief foreign editor. She reported extensively on the Syrian refugee crisis, and has conducted interviews with prominent Turkish and international figures. Before joining Habertürk, Afşin wrote about Turkey and the Middle East for a variety of publications including Foreign Policy and The New Republic. She has moderated debates at international conferences, the most recent one was at the World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. She holds an M.S. from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. She can be followed on Twitter at @afsinyurdakul.

Afşin will study the impact of the Syrian refugee crisis on Turkey and other host countries at Harvard. She said, At a time when the international community is faced with a massive humanitarian crisis, it is crucial for journalists to provide responsible and nuanced coverage of the issue. My hope is to have a meaningful contribution to the public debate about refugees in Turkey. I am thankful to Ms. Joan Rebecca Siregar-Long for creating this initiative, and to the Nieman Foundation and Turkish Philanthropy Funds for supporting my work.

Joan Rebecca Siregar-Long said, “I am delighted that the Nieman Foundation has selected the first recipient of the Robert L. Long Nieman Fellowship, and I wish Afsin the very best at Harvard. My hope is that she will be the first in a line of Robert L. Long Nieman Fellows who are committed to promoting press freedom worldwide and to working fearlessly and with integrity on stories that need to be shared.”

TPF’s Chairman Emeritus Haldun Tashman noted that Turkish Philanthropy Funds is very proud to be partnering with Mrs. Siregar-Long and Harvard University in the fellowship program and said, “Robert L. Long was concerned with the issues facing journalism in a rapidly changing world. This  program in his memory inspires  journalists from Turkey and expands their intellectual curiosity.” He further added that Mrs. Siregar-Long’s initiatives inspired him personally to develop two long-term initiatives in Bolu, Turkey, to be supported by the Tashman Fund at TPF in memory of his late mother and father.

Ann Marie Lipinski, curator of Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University, noted: “We are honored to offer this fellowship in the name of Robert Long, who was much admired by his journalism colleagues, and we are grateful to Joan Rebecca for her work on this important new initiative. Her commitment to supporting Turkish journalists in her late husband’s name is one Nieman shares. We are excited to welcome Afsin Yurdakul, anchor and correspondent for Habertürk News Network, as the inaugural fellow in this initiative and look forward to working with her.”

“Turkish Philanthropy Fund was created to inspire and mobilize innovative, high-impact philanthropy that benefits communities in Turkey and in the U.S. We’re thrilled to have enabled this match between the Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard University’s mission and Joan Rebecca Siregar-Long’s aspirations to honor her husband’s life-long commitment to supporting the next generation of quality journalism,” said Maria Figueroa Kupcu, vice chair of TPF.

About Robert L. Long
A journalist, filmmaker and broadcast executive, Robert L. Long had a wide-ranging career including work developing motion picture scripts and serving in newsrooms on both the East and West coasts. Some of his early assignments included writing for WWDC Radio and The Associated Press and serving as a combat correspondent in the Marine Corps. During the late 1970s, he produced a number of independent documentaries for network outlets in Los Angeles.

Long served as KNBC’s vice president and news director from 2003 to 2009, at which point he retired and explored film projects and taught journalism at Bahçeşehir University in Istanbul, Turkey. He had previously served as vice president for news and operations at WRC-TV, the NBC-owned station in Washington, D.C. His prior television news experience included news gathering, production and management jobs at the CBS-owned KNXT (now KCBS), UPN Television’s KCOP and Disney Television, all in Los Angeles.

Before his death in August 2016, Long served as an executive producer for the Voice of America’s Mandarin service and as a program analyst for the International Broadcasting Bureau’s Office of Performance Review. He received many awards for his work throughout his career, including a number of Emmys, Edward R. Murrow Awards and a Peabody Award in 2005 for investigative journalism. He also received the Presidential Award from the National Association of Hispanic Journalists.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds
Turkish Philanthropy Funds(TPF) is the leading U.S. community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities. Since 2007, TPF has mobilized over $30M and has invested over $17M in grants with partners focused on addressing economic, education, gender equality, social and environmental needs in Turkey and around the world. By providing support to realize the philanthropic vision of individuals, families, and corporations, TPF donors and partners have reached thousands of families and directly funded over 200 projects.

The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvard
The Nieman Foundation for Journalism at Harvardeducates leaders in journalism and elevates the standards of the profession through special programs that convene scholars and experts in all fields. More than 1,500 accomplished and promising journalists from 97 countries have been awarded Nieman Fellowships since 1938. The foundation’s other initiatives include Nieman Reports, a quarterly print and online magazine that covers thought leadership in journalism; Nieman Lab, a website that reports on the future of news, innovation and best practices in the digital media age; and Nieman Storyboard, a website that showcases exceptional narrative journalism and explores the future of nonfiction storytelling.

For more information contact:

Nicole Arias
Nieman Foundation, Nieman Fellowship Program Administrator
(617) 495-2238; nicole_arias@harvard.edu

Goncagul Ay
Turkish Philanthropy Funds, Communications Lead
(646) 630-8988; goncagul@tpfund.org

Thank you for Reimagining Education with us!


Thank you for attending “Celebrating Philanthropy & Reimagining Education” reception and honoring Güler Sabancı and her family’s contribution to philanthropy with us last night. It was great having you. Building one of a kind community around philanthropy has always been in the center of our work as a source of motivation and inspiration.  And we’re delighted to have you as a part of it.

100% of the proceeds will go to the efforts of Turkish Philanthropy Funds and Columbia Global Centers|Istanbul. Click here to see more pictures from the night.

Thank you for making our work possible!

Team TPF

2018 Sena Eken Schieber Economics Awardees

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New York, NY (May 1st, 2018) – Turkish Philanthropy Funds is proud to announce the 2018 Sena Eken Schieber Economics Award recipients: Bahar Zafer and Beril Yalcinkaya. Bahar will undertake her graduate studies in the M.A. Analytical Political Economy (MAPE) program, a joint master’s program of the Departments of Economics and Political Science at Duke University. Beril will enroll in Cornell University’s MS program in Applied Economics and Management.

The Sena Eken Schieber Economics Awardees are selected on the basis of a competitive process focusing on personal commitment, academic merit, and financial need. The scholarships will help cover the costs of tuition, fees, books, and living expenses in accredited U.S. Graduate programs in Economics.

This scholarship is the only award of its type earmarked for Turkish women to obtain graduate degrees in the field of Economics in the United States. “Sena’s legacy will be well served by these two impressive young women achieving their full potentials by furthering their educations here in the United States. I have no doubt that they will significantly contribute to making the world a better place, countering the appalling inequalities and xenophobic currents running through our global society,” said George Schieber, Sena’s husband, and a former World Bank Economist.

We are extremely pleased with this year’s highly qualified applicants and delighted with the two young women who were chosen to be awarded the scholarships. It is a joy to be a part of this opportunity to enable opening new doors into their future. We wish them great success in becoming accomplished economists,” said Sena’s niece, Esra Krause, who serves on the selection committee. TPF Board Member, Dr. Nakiye Boyacigiller explained being on the selection committee for the Sena Eken Schieber Award in Economics as one of the joys of her life and noted: “I love reviewing the files and interviewing these exceptional young women. I wish them all, winners and those to whom we could not award a scholarship, success, and happiness.”

About The Sena Eken Schieber Economics Award and Sena Eken Schieber
The Sena Eken Schieber Economics Award is supported by the Eken-Schieber Scholarship Fund at Turkish Philanthropy Funds. The fund was established by Sena’s husband, George Schieber, to celebrate Sena Eken Schieber’s life, and continue her legacy as a pioneering international civil servant, Turkish Government official, economist, and a role model for many women. Sena was not only a highly competent, hard-working, and successful professional, but also a wonderful wife, a caring and dedicated sister, aunt, family member, friend, and mentor. She was known as an inspirational leader who lived life to the fullest. The scholarship supports young women from Turkey from low-income families to pursue graduate degrees in economics in the United States.

About Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF)
Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) is the leading U.S. community foundation for high-impact social investments dedicated to Turkish and Turkish-American communities. Since 2007, TPF has mobilized over $30M and has invested over $17M in grants with partners focused on addressing economic, education, gender equality, social and environmental needs in Turkey and around the world. By providing support to realize the philanthropic vision of individuals, families, and corporations, TPF donors and partners have reached thousands of families and directly funded over 200 projects.

For more information about the application process for the 2019 Award cycle or other philanthropic accounts at TPF, please visit our website, www.tpfund.org or call us at 646.530.8988.