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11/12/08

PARSA Community Foundation Announces 2008 Mehregan Grantees!

Source: PARSA Community Foundation

PARSA Community Foundation is delighted to announce the awardees of its 2008 Mehregan grant cycle, with $138,000 in grants supporting sixteen powerful ideas. This is PARSA CF's fourth competitive grant round, and brings the total number of grants given to forty-four and the total amount awarded to $557,000.
 
As part of PARSA CF's mission to strengthen entrepreneurial and enterprising nonprofit organizations, these grants are given in three core focus areas: preservation and advancement of Persian arts and culture, development of community leaders through fellowships and recognition awards, and encouragement of civic participation.  The national response to our call for grant applications was greater than ever, signaling that we must continue to grow our combined resources and mobilize our collective efforts towards building a stronger community.

We were thrilled to receive a substantial increase in the quality and quantity of grant applications in the areas of leadership development and civic participation.  We hope that this trend will continue so that we are well prepared for the 2010 census and 2010 mid-term elections. Reflecting our mission of promoting cultural understanding and providing humanitarian aid wherever we can in the world, PARSA CF is proud to have supported nonprofit organizations Afghanistan and Turkey, in addition to the United States.

 

Strategic Philanthropy

 

Through strategic philanthropy, PARSA CF:
 
- seeks the most innovative ideas across the U.S. and beyond;
- signals to other donors by raising the visibility of grantees;
- documents processes and takes steps to improving them continuously for everyone's benefit; and
- gives funds in an institutional framework, improving accountability, leverage and impact.
 
By giving together and by giving strategically, we can squeeze every bit of good out of every dollar donated.


Selection Process

 

In March 2008, PARSA CF sent out a call for grant applications. This open call for proposals is a continuing feature of our application and selection process.

PARSA CF is committed to continuously improving its grant application, evaluation and approval processes.  To that end, this grant cycle marked the first time that PARSA CF's independent Grant Advisory Committee included subcommittees made of community leaders specializing either in the arts and culture area, or in the civic participation and leadership development area. They applied their expertise in evaluating applications according to rigorous and objective criteria, such as the applicant's ability to raise funds from diverse sources and the project's ability to scale and have widespread impact. This approach ensures a democratic and transparent process and enlists the immense knowledge and expertise of our community members in identifying the most qualified investees.


During this grant cycle, PARSA CF received 38 applications requesting over $1,200,000 in grants.  All requests came from highly qualified organizations that are critical to the success of our community, making it very difficult to choose the final list of grant recipients. The high demand for grants shows the high level of need in our community and why we must continue to reach deep within ourselves and give as much as we are each can.


Following the Grant Advisory Committee's criteria-based scoring of each application, PARSA CF created a ranking and presented grant amount recommendations to the Board of Directors. PARSA CF's Board reviewed the recommendations and cast their final vote on grantees and grant amounts.


Our Grant Advisory Committee included:

 

Susan Akbarpour, CEO of Linkore and SiliconIran


Taghi Amirani, Founder and Director of Amirani Films


Reza Aslan, Fellow at the University of California's Center on Public Diplomacy, Middle East Analyst for CBS News and Author


Abtin Assadi, Board Member, Bay Area Iranian-American Voter Association


Shirin Bazleh, Film Director and Editor


Mahnaz Ebrahimi, Former President of Persian Cultural Center


Shirin Hakimzadeh, Board Member, Iranian Alliances Across Borders


Hedieh Hashemi, Community Volunteer


Jahanshah Javid, Founder and Editor of Iranian.com


Mehdi Maghsoodnia, Entrepreneur-in-Residence at Trinity Venture Capital


Shabnam Rezaei, Editor of Persianmirror.com and Co-Founder of Norooz Productions


Houman Sarshar, Director of Public Relations at the Center for Iranian Jewish Oral History


In the case where an Advisory Committee member is affiliated with a prospective grantee organization, the member recuses himself or herself from evaluating the grantee.

 

We extend our heartfelt gratitude to the Grant Advisory Committee members and Board members who provided us with invaluable input and guidance.

 

We also thank all the nonprofits who submitted inquiry forms or applications. PARSA CF was able to fund less than half of these requests, but hopes to continue to expand its grant pool and technical assistance in the months and years to come. We appreciate all the time and care that goes into these proposals.

 

Grant Recipients 

Congratulations to the inspiring teams behind PARSA CF's 2008 Mehregan awardees! They include National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement, National Iranian American Council, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Asia Society, University of Maryland Foundation at College Park, Link Media, Inc., Relief International, Golestan Kids, National Geographic Society, Children's Hope International Literacy and Development, Institute of International Education, Iranian Scholarship Foundation, Afghan Institute of Learning, Americans for Informed Democracy, Network of Iranian American Professionals of Orange County, and Persian Students Association at the City College of New York. 
 

Focus Area

Organization and Project

Amount Granted

Area

Purpose

Civic Participation

 

National Legal Sanctuary for Community Advancement: General operating expenses towards long-term capacity building

$25,000

San Francisco, CA

NLSCA's mission is to ensure the human rights and dignity of Middle-Eastern, Muslim, and South-Asian peoples. Through this grant, they will advocate for unity through diversity via legal defense of civil and human rights; responsible media coverage and depiction; proactive collaboration with governmental and non-governmental institutions; and civic integration through community education and outreach. NLSCA has recently produced a Continuing Legal Education curriculum, which will be used to train attorneys to provide pro bono legal representation on Post 9/11 and national security cases. Through this and its other programs, NLSCA will continue providing critical legal services and community education while building organizational and advocacy capacity.  

 

Civic Participation

National Iranian American Council: Civil Society Development Program

$20,000

Washington, D.C.

NIAC's mission is to advance the interests of the Iranian-American community through advocacy, education and community building. NIAC conducts civil society development projects (such as voter registration), advocacy projects (such as a monthly congressional briefing series and a US-Iran media project) and public education projects (such as the LegWatch e-bulletin and public seminars). This grant will fund their Civil Society Development Program, which includes Individual Influence Seminars, in-district meetings, voter education and leadership workshops.

 

Arts and Culture

 

Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Support for a Persian curatorial position

$12,000

Los Angeles, CA

LACMA is the largest encyclopedic art museum in the western United States. It houses one of the most significant collections of ancient Near Eastern, primarily Persian, art in the U.S. In July 2008, they appointed their first curator of ancient Near Eastern/Persian art, Dr. Ali Mousavi, and this grant will support the new position. Dr. Mousavi will work on an exhibition focusing on American archaeology in Iran tentatively titled America Digs Iran: The Archaeological Record 1931-2004. Dr. Mousavi will help plan the reinstallation of the ancient Near Eastern and Iranian galleries at LACMA and will continue to work on electronic and other publications related to the permanent collection. 

Arts and Culture

 

Asia Society: Persian component of Illuminating Islam

$10,000

New York City, NY  

Asia Society is dedicated to enhancing public understanding of Asia and, through its network of regional centers and Asian American community partners, reaches a broad and diverse constituency on topics of arts and culture, business and policy, and national education. Asia Society's latest project is Illuminating Islam, a multi-venue exhibit on Islamic culture unprecedented in the United States. Illuminating Islam will show the creativity of Persian culture in four different modes: music, poetry, film and cuisine.  As part of its programmatic focus on the music of Iran, Asia Society has secured the participation of female classical Persian singer Parissa. This grant will fund the Iranian component of the project.

 

Arts and Culture

 

University of Maryland/Roshan Cultural Institute for Persian Studies: Iranian Jewry: From Past to Present Conference and general support of the Persian Studies program

$10,000

College Park, MD

The Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute for Persian Studies aims to inaugurate an academic program in Persian language and literature and to help enhance mutual understanding between Americans and Iranians. The Center's development of both a major and a minor in Persian studies is nearly complete. This grant will fund the Center's Persian Studies program general expenses as well as its Fall 2008 conference: Iranian Jewry: From Past to Present. This interdisciplinary conference will encourage participants to embark on an investigation of the historical relations of Muslim and Jewish Iranians, in addition to the cultural and sociological factors of Iranian Jewry. 

 

Arts and Culture

 

Link Media, Inc.: Bridge to Iran

$10,000

San Francisco, CA

Link Media operates the Link TV national network and www.linktv.org. In 2007, they created the weekly series, Bridge to Iran, which allows Americans to share in the cultural heritage of Iran by looking at it from the perspective of Iranians, instead of an American-centric perspective. This grant will fund their Bridge to Iran series, which screens films that create greater understanding and evoke compassion through a connection to personal stories coming from the perspectives of Iranians and Iranian-Americans. They will enhance the impact through the production of special introductions, context-setting "wrap-arounds," and What You Can Do! videos that connect viewers to resources and ways to get involved. 

Leadership Development

 

Relief International: Training for three Iranian-American interns

$10,000

Los Angeles, CA  

Relief International (RI) is a global humanitarian non-profit that provides emergency relief and development assistance to vulnerable communities worldwide. RI focuses on building capacity among marginalized groups such as women, children, and the elderly. RI will provide paid internships to three Iranian-American students (PARSA CF Service Fellows) attending college in the Los Angeles and Washington, D.C. area who are pursuing an international relief or development career. This program will foster research, project management, and leadership skills to young Iranian-Americans and the opportunity to enter a rewarding career in international public policy and development. 

Arts and Culture

Golestan Kids: General support towards costs associated with expanding the school

$5,000

Berkeley, CA

Golestan Kids is a Persian language immersion program for children aged 18 months and up. They strive to cultivate Iranian-American youths who are aware and proud of their Iranian heritage and culture and encourage children's development through a dynamic and progressive program that draws from a diverse set of educational philosophies which includes Montessori, Reggio, and Waldorf. This grant will fund their next stage of growth, which includes establishing the school in a larger space  that best serves their children so that they can grow while being more marketable and appealing to prospective families. 

Arts and Culture

 

National Geographic Society: Aina/Parvaz

$5,000

Washington, D.C.

National Geographic photographer and Fellow Reza Deghati founded Aina in Afghanistan in 2001. Aina facilitates initiatives in the areas of education, information, and communication, with a focus on women and children. As a fiscally sponsored project of the National Geographic Society, Aina continues to produce Afghanistan's first and only educational children's magazine, Parvaz.  This grant will support the production of a special edition of Parvaz on the subject of valuing regional cultural heritage, an edition that has the potential to reach more than one million children and adults, teaching them the importance of protecting their cultural heritage by promoting knowledge and tolerance across cultures, generations, and genders. 

Leadership Development

 

Afghan Institute of Learning: Learning Centers in Afghanistan

$5,000

Dearborn, MI

AIL is an Afghan women's NGO which helps address the problem of poor access for Afghan women and children to education and health services, their subsequent inability to support their lives, and the impact of this lack of education and health on Afghan society. This grant will fund AIL's Women's Learning Centers (WLCs) for women and girls and Educational Learning Centers (ELCs) for women and men in Afghanistan. With an emphasis in developing leadership capability, AIL offers preschool through university-level classes and trains teachers and administrators.

Leadership Development

Children's Hope International Literacy and Development: Adopt-A-School

$5,000

Laguna Niguel, CA

Children's Hope International Literacy and Development's (C.H.I.L.D.) mission is to transform the lives of children who suffer from poverty, hunger, lack of education, sickness, and neglect, into lives full of hope and possibilities. C.H.I.L.D.'s Adopt-a-School program focuses on schools and students in deprived areas. This grant will fund C.H.I.L.D.'s Adopt-a- School program in Von, Turkey, the only educational facility accommodating students of Iranian refugee families who otherwise cannot attend local schools. All students receive school uniforms, books and supplies, and one meal a day.

 

Leadership Development

 

Institute of International Education: Persian Foreign Language Teaching Assistant Program

$5,000

New York City, NY

The mission of IIE is to promote closer educational relations between the people of the U.S. and those of other countries, advance academic freedom, and enhance the capacity of individuals and organizations to address local and global challenges. This grant will fund IIE's Persian Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (PFLTA) Program, which strengthens Persian language instruction at U.S. universities. The PFLTA Program provides opportunities for young Iranian teachers to increase their English language proficiency, and to gain experience with and knowledge of U.S. culture and customs while providing a reciprocal opportunity for Americans students to have access to a professor with knowledge of Iranian culture, language and society.

 

Leadership Development

 

Iranian Scholarship Foundation: 2 public service fellowships for Iranian-American students

$5,000

Menlo Park, CA

ISF provides scholarships for students of Iranian descent who wish to attend universities in the United States of America. Their scholarships are granted to scholars who demonstrate exceptional academic promise, significant financial need, and a dedication to community service. This grant will fund PARSA CF Service Fellowships for two Iranian-American students to carry out a public service project.  ISF believes that the future of the Iranian-American community is in the hands of the young generation, and it is their aim to make college education a reality for every Iranian-American.

Civic Participation

Americans for Informed Democracy: A New Hope: U.S.-Iran Relations

$5,000

Washington, D.C.

AID empowers young people in the U.S. to address global challenges such as poverty, disease, climate change, and conflict through awareness and action. The organization promotes sustainable solutions at the campus, community, and national level. This grant will fund AID's new initiative, A New Hope: Improving U.S.-Iran Relations. The initiative will reach out to 5 college campuses to encourage dialogue on the U.S. relationship with Iran through one-day events which will include film screenings, hip hop artists such as Iranian rapper YAS, and leadership trainings. AID will bring together campus leaders to implement campaigns on their campuses to raise awareness of Iranian issues.

Civic Participation

Network of Iranian-American Professionals of Orange County: 2008-09 voter registration and civic participation efforts

$5,000

Irvine, CA

NIPOC's mission is to educate the public on the rich Persian cultural heritage and to promote the achievements and contributions of the Iranian-American community.  This grant will support support Iranian-American voter registration, participation, advocacy and outreach in Southern California. NIPOC plans to do so through setting up tables and booths at popular Iranian outlets in a coordinated fashion and create a "register to vote" campaign using media advertising, direct mail, and email. The grant also supports civic participation activities related to the upcoming US Census.

Leadership Development

 

Persian Students Association at the City College of New York: Long-term event coordination

$1,000

New York City, NY

PSA at CCNY is committed to organizing events on Iranian heritage and history on and off campus. Their core programs consist of events that draw young Iranian and non-Iranian students to engage in activities and discussions to learn more about Iranian culture and history. Their events include annual or bi-annual banquets that commemorate important Persian holidays such as Norooz and Shabe Yalda. Starting this year, they will be planning ahead by collecting resources and establishing communication with all parties to coordinate for upcoming events in the next semester, and this grant will fund costs associated with planning these events.

 

Next Grant Cycle 

PARSA CF is inviting nonprofits and student organizations to submit inquiry forms for its 2009 Norooz grant cycle by December 5, 2008. Based on a positive review, applicants will be invited to submit full applications, due on January 9, 2009. 
 
For more information, please visit PARSA CF's
grants page. We look forward to receiving inquiry forms for the next grant cycle.  Together we can grow support for all nonprofits!
 

Congratulations and Gratitude

On behalf of the PARSA CF team, we congratulate the 2008 Mehregan grantees and thank the members of the Grant Advisory Committee and all the grant applicants. 
 
Wishing you and your families a joyful holiday season,
 
Mariam Hosseini
Grants Manager and Donor Services Coordinator

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