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PARSA CF Announces 2010 Norooz Grantees!

Source: PARSA Community Foundation
PARSA Community Foundation is delighted to celebrate Norooz by announcing the twenty-one recipients of the 2010 Norooz grant cycle who are being awarded a total of $200,000 in grants. This brings the total competitive grants awarded by PARSA CF to more than $750,000 over the past four years.
As part of PARSA CF's mission to strengthen entrepreneurial and enterprising nonprofit organizations, these grants are given in PARSA CF's core focus areas of preserving and advancing arts and culture, developing leaders through education and award systems and encouraging civic participation.  PARSA CF is dedicated to promoting nationally scalable civic participation and integration programs to promote volunteerism and public service. It is our hope that these grants will provide the tools necessary to advocacy groups, educational centers, museums, and community organizations so that Iranians can become a recognized force for good.
Strategic Philanthropy
Through strategic philanthropy, PARSA CF:
  • seeks the most innovative ideas across the U.S. and beyond;
  • engages donors by raising the visibility of grantees;
  • documents the process and takes steps to improve it continuously for everyone's benefit; and 
  • gives funds as an institution rather than as individuals, which can result in higher accountability and measured impact.
By giving strategically, we can increase our impact and get a higher return out of every dollar donated.
Selection Process
In September 2009, PARSA CF sent out a call for grant applications in our core focus areas of arts and culture, leadership development and civic participation.  In this cycle we also reached out to student groups and community organizations. This open call for proposals is a continuing feature of our application and selection process.  The applicants are asked to submit a Letter of Inquiry, which is used for initial screening to ensure that they meet the minimum requirements of PARSA CF's grant process.  This includes being a registered 501(c)(3) organization, and having missions aligned with one of the three main focus areas of PARSA CF.  After initial screening, 27 applicants were invited to submit full applications to PARSA CF. 
All grant applications are reviewed and rated by an independent Grant Advisory Committee which is selected from community leaders with experience and expertise in our focus areas.  For every grant cycle PARSA CF assembles a new Grant Advisory Committee.  For this cycle seven highly accomplished individuals accepted our call and volunteered to be part of the committee: Maryam Ansary, Ladan Behnia, Laya Esmaieili-Zare, Anthony Hay, Forough Hossein, Nema Milaninia, and Shiva Sarram, 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 gives our community representatives an opportunity to evaluate and select the initiatives recommended for funding. 

During this grant cycle, we received 27 applications with the total amount of requests coming in at $380,000.  All requests came from highly qualified organizations that are critical to the success of our community, making it difficult to narrow down the number to our final list of grantees.  Following our Grant Advisory Committee's review, PARSA CF staff ranked applicants based on their total score 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, resulting in $200,000 to be granted to 21 applicants. 

We extend our heartfelt thanks and gratitude to our Grant Advisory Committee members and Board members who provided us with invaluable input during the evaluation process.  We also thank all the non-profits who contributed to this process by submitting inquiry forms or applications for the time and care they put into their proposals. 
Grant Recipients
Congratulations to the inspiring teams behind PARSA CF's 2010 Norooz awardees! A full list of the grantees is shown below.
Arts and Culture
  Organization and Project  Project Description  Amount 
1 Associates in Cultural Exchange: Persian Summer Language Camp The Fitzwilliam Museum, the principal museum of the University of Cambridge, plans a major exhibition, Epic of the Persian Kings: the Shahnameh of Ferdowsi. In addition to the holdings at the museum, Cambridge Library and the Cambridge Colleges, loans have been agreed from the great U.K. public or semi-public collections. And, an international conference on Shahnameh will be held in Cambridge during the exhibition, in December 2010. This will be Ferdowsi's millennial birthday celebration. $10,000
2 Cambridge in America, University of Cambridge: Shahnameh Exhibition ACE provides world language instruction to youth in before and after school programs in 60+ locations in the Pacific Northwest. For the past thirteen years their World Language Programs (WLP) has also offered summer language camps for children in critical languages, such as Arabic, Chinese, Persian, and Urdu.  We were impressed that ACE has decided to leverage their experience and offer Persian Summer Language Camp provides an opportunity for both heritage and non-heritage students to achieve basic proficiency in Persian language and to become familiar with Persian culture. $10,000
3 Chicago Persian School: Expanding the Library + General Support The school serves the Chicago metropolitan area, teaching the Persian language and other aspects of Iranian culture, music and dance, art, and etiquette. We were pleased to learn that the school has had a 30% growth year over year, and now they need to expand the library and classes. They also plan to add field trips to the Oriental Institute museum (dedicated to ancient Persia), which has previously received a grant from PARSA CF. $8,000
4 Iranian Children's Cultural and Educational Society: ICCES Norouz Program ICCES promotes Persian culture and builds sense of community focusing on Iranian-American youth. ICCES has an amazing number of volunteers and has expanded its events from Albany, CA to Danville, CA. $5,000
5 Link Media Inc: Bridge to Iran Link Media operates the Link TV national network and They cover underserved and complex issues that the mass media ignores. Their weekly series Bridge to Iran allows Americans to share in the rich cultural heritage of Iran and its people by looking at Iran from the perspective of Iranians themselves, instead of an American-centric perspective. We congratulate Link Media for the professional quality of their work as well as their use of new technology to reach a broader audience on the web. $10,000
6 Northern Illinois University: Public Lectures called Reading Rumi, Seasons of Persian verse Professor Jeffry Einboden, who has translated Hafez and Rumi to English, is starting a public lecture series on Rumi called "Reading Rumi: Seasons of Persian Verse" - to introduce NIU undergraduate and graduate students to the world of Persian poetry. Professor Einboden's passion and dedication to Persian poetry is notable and we hope he can extend the lectures in the future to cover Hafez as well. $3,000
7 Oakland Youth Orchestra: Orchestral Persian and western music performance OYO which coaches young music students from over 30 Bay Area cities is set to create a multi-movement composition of approximately 20 minutes that incorporates elements of traditional Persian music into a western symphonic piece. We were glad to learn that the piece will be debuted in not only in East Bay, but also in Costa Rica. We welcome the cultural exchange. $4,000
8 Partner Pictures: Documentary film From Texas to Tehran FROM TEXAS TO TEHRAN is a feature length documentary film about the true story of Kevin Sheppard, an American basketball player who plays professionally in Iran: KEVIN SHEPPARD. Documentary movies are great sources for learning about cultures, and the beauty of this particular movie is that it combines sports, a popular topic (especially Basketball which is highly popular in the US) with culture and people. We expect the movie to become highly successful. $20,000
9 Persian and Iranian American Studies Initiative at SJSU: Seed funding and general support In its 2008-2009 pilot year, PCHS conducted Persian language and civilization classes (Persian Language 103 and 104) as well as campus-wide lectures and events. The program has significantly expanded its educational and outreach efforts during the current academic year. The Initiative plans to initially offer a minor and then develop a Bachelor's degree program in Persian Cultural Heritage Studies. We were amazed by the vision and dedication of the group who made this possible at SFSU. $10,000
10 Persian Cultural Heritage Studies Initiative at SFSU: General support In its 2008-2009 pilot year, PCHS conducted Persian language and civilization classes (Persian Language 103 and 104) as well as campus-wide lectures and events. The program has significantly expanded its educational and outreach efforts during the current academic year. The Initiative plans to initially offer a minor and then develop a Bachelor's degree program in Persian Cultural Heritage Studies. We were amazed by the vision and dedication of the group who made this possible at SFSU. $10,000
11 Persian Students Association, Glendale College: Norooz Bazaar PSA Glendale promotes the Persian culture by creating a Norooz Bazaar representing different aspects of Persian culture including arts, music, food, Haft-seen, traditional tea room, etc. They have done this for many years and have made it a landmark event for the college. They invite the Mayor and city councils of the city of Glendale, as well as local news. This year they also had a stand for the Census Coalition, educating the parents and families about the Census 2010 forms. $3,000
12 Promises Films: Documentary film The Mourners and Me Promises Films is the maker of "Promises", an Academy Award nominee for best documentary, and "My Summer In Tehran", a feature documentary for PBS. Their new firm, "The Mourners and Me", is director Sabereh Kashi's cinematic essay of Ashura, as the biggest cultural/religious ceremony in Iran. The research the director has done for the film and the various aspects she is covering in her footage, from historical to community impact, is impressive. $10,000
13 Roshan Cultural Heritage Institute, University of Maryland: General Support Roshan Center was established within the School of Languages, Literature and Cultures at U of Maryland in 2004 to inaugurate academic programs in Persian language and literature. During the spring 2010 they have a Persian Creative Writing course called "Reading Persian Stories". The response to the class has been enthusiastic, among both Iranians and non-Iranians alike. $25,000
14 San Mateo Public Library Foundation: Expansion of Farsi content and programs San Mateo Library's Farsi collection was started in 1998. In addition to providing Iranian books and movies they have made Persian events such as Yalda and Norooz regular bi-lingual community gatherings on their calendar. They are in the process of expanding the collection of books/movies/CDs/audio books, as well as bringing in more speakers for their Persian events. The collection and the events have proved to be very helpful to senior residents coming from Iran, and for that we sincerely thank the library management who has been paying attention to this particular need. $5,000
15 Student Association for Middle East Studies, SJSU: Norooz Events As a student group at SJSU, SAMES has created exciting events and programs for celebration of Norooz, acknowledging the contributions and culture of Iranian Americans on the campus. The group will enthusiastically apply some of the grant to doing the same in 2011. $3,000
Civic and Leadership

  Organization and Project  Project Description  Amount 
16 Ethnic Social Services Referral: Four seminars to help families ESSRI provides social services counseling to women and families in the DC area. Based on the issues they have recognized over the years, they will be offering four family-issues seminars, each seminar is 4-6 sessions, around family issues that the Iranian diaspora is dealing with. The issues range from marriage/divorce to parenting and caring for the elderly. We believe these issues are of great importance and underserved. $2,000
17 Glendon College, Glendon Indep. Research Committee: Iran Symposium - GIRC on Iran The Research Committee at Glendon is a student group. They do a study and an international seminar on one country each year, and this year is about Iran. They invited a number of scholars to talk and discuss various issues around Iran's current affairs during their March 6th conference, and they will publish the research papers and findings. We were impressed by the fact that the student body has been able to consistently pull this off for more than 10 years with great quality. They will also try to plan a field trip to Iran. $5,000
18 Institute of International Education: Foreign Language Teaching Assistantship Program IIE's Iran Opportunities Fund provides grants to recent university graduates from Iran who studied to become English language or social science teachers. The Foreign Language Teaching Assistant (FLTA) Program's core objective is to strengthen foreign language teaching instruction at US higher education institutions by establishing a native speaker presence at US universities and colleges. The Persian FLTA Program provides opportunities for Iranian teachers to refine their teaching skills, and a reciprocal opportunity for American students to have access to a professor with contemporary knowledge of Iranian culture and society. We particularly welcome the capacity building and leadership development aspects of this program. $10,000
19 Iranian Alliances Across Borders: Camp Ayandeh IAAB's focus is on the youth within the Iranian diaspora. IAAB is organizing its fifth annual "Camp Ayandeh", the leadership camp for Iranian-American high school students. During the camp, Iranian-American high school students nationwide are united for a week of building valuable leadership skills and learning about their Iranian heritage. This year the camp will be held in California. We find Camp Ayandeh a very innovative program that provides a unique opportunity for the students and counselors involved, and a tangible step towards building the future of our community. $15,000
20 Persian Cultural Center: Census 2010 Awareness The Persian Cultural Center in San Diego has been serving the Iranian community for many years. Their bi-monthly, bi-lingual publication, "Peyk", now in its 17th year, has a bi-monthly circulation of over 6000 copies to areas including San Diego, Los Angeles, the Bay Area, Texas, Maryland, Minnesota, Chicago, Toronto, and New York. This makes Peyk a great vehicle for promoting the Census 2010 and how counting Iranians and Iranian-Americans is important to our community. $3,000
21 Relief International: Fellowship program Active in more than 26 countries, RI provides emergency relief and development assistance to vulnerable communities worldwide. RI's mission is to Save Lives & Sustain Livelihoods, designed to bridge relief to development by addressing the root causes of poverty, marginalization and conflict. Relief International will provide a PARSA supported fellowship to qualified Iranian-American (and Iranian-British) students who are eager to learn about International Public Policy and Development. RI will provide that entry point as well as a platform to educate and train through a paid internship program that selects the best performing Fellows. In 2009 they trained 3 such students through PARSA funding. We are gladly expanding the program with them because we believe addressing root causes is of the highest value and something that the next generation of our leaders should learn and put to work. $29,000

Next Grant Cycle
PARSA CF will soon start inviting nonprofits, from universities and museums to student groups and community organizations, to submit inquiry forms for its 2010 Mehrgan grant cycle.  The invitation will be sebt to our general mailing list, so stay tuned!
Nasser K. Manesh
Community Relations Officer 

About: PARSA Community Foundation is the first Persian community foundation in the United States and the leading Persian philanthropic institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship worldwide.  Managing the largest independent endowment fund dedicated to Persian philanthropy, the California-based PARSA CF provides tax-advantaged vehicles to donors and grants to nonprofit organizations. Grants are awarded through semi-annual competitive grant cycles and are reviewed by an independent grant advisory committee. The organization is a nonpartisan, nonreligious, and nonprofit 501(c) (3) entity.  For more information, please visit

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