Monday, December 19, 2011

Overview of and Approaches to Teachers’ In-Service Trainings

By Kayhan Karli

Turkey has a long-standing tradition of educating teachers. However, it is not possible to say the same thing about their professional development, which has not been a priority in Turkey. Teacher training is defined in two major areas: pre-service training and in-service professional development for teachers. Regarded as a professional occupation, teaching requires a special training. Teacher training system is provided in three dimensions - field knowledge, professional knowledge for teachers, general knowledge - requires a well-planned and programmed educational process. Pre-service teachers or candidates (trainee teachers) receive education at Universities regulated by Higher Education Commission (YÖK) in cooperation with Ministry of National Education (MONE). In-service teacher training or professional development for teachers is regulated and directed by MONE. Half of all teachers in Turkey have never attended a training program during their professional careers. In our time, professional development of teachers is not only important but also a necessity in the future of learning because:

Globalization. It’s more than economics. Globalization is social. As we witness massive migration from underdeveloped cities/countries to more developed cities/countries, people who go through various social changes have difficulties in adapting and continuing their living habits. Learning becomes important and will occur in a multicultural setting.

Technology. Planning learning environments where learners are independent of technology is impossible. The new millennium’s student is defined as “knowledge builder, multimedia creator, collaborative learner, inquirer, experimental learner through real life and simulations, and an individual who can learn for everyone and for the sake of his/her own needs.” We have to ask “How can our teachers be efficient and competent in an environment where especially Web 2.0 technology is used widely?” Teachers won’t disappear. But they do need to use technology efficiently and design learning and its environment according to the structure of the new millennium. In other words we need teachers, who have web sites and write blogs; who can use social media tools like Facebook, Twitter etc. as a learning tool; and who can transform mobile phones into a learning tool, instead of dismissing them. Today, in an environment where even Presidents are using Twitter and conveying information firsthand; teachers who do not use new technology will stay behind of their students.

As TALIS (Teaching and Learning International Survey) results show, in Turkey, about three quarter of teachers are under 40 years old; they are the children of the digital age and they can adapt easily. This is Turkey’s competitive advantage over developed countries. In the last years, Turkish Ministry of National Education has provided all schools with Internet connection and even some village schools have computers now. Teachers, who can own the digital transformation in in-service trainings, will also be able to transform learning.

Brain and intelligence research. There are 79 faculty of education and 64 school of medicine in Turkey. But, none focus on brain and learning research. In the last quarter of the 20th century we tried to understand brain with experimental studies on mice. With the advancements in technology amazing discoveries have been made and experiments on animals have been replaced with new imaging techniques like fMRI. These discoveries showed that every individual has a unique way of learning. It is not hard to foresee that the answer to the question “How are we going to learn?” may change a lot as we learn more about our brains in the near future.

While we evaluate learning in the light of these three factors, the most important questions are: “Who is the learner? Is learning only for students or for everyone? For teachers to catch up with the new era should they concentrate on life-long learning?”

My father knew radio very well. He used television widely. He has encountered with computer recently and has been trying to comprehend it. Advancement in technology has changed how even the radio and television are used. Today, he needs the help of his grandson, my son, to be able to use the first two. My father is still learning in his 70s. But, the interesting part is he is learning from today’s children. In the figure below, which defines teaching very well, teaching as a profession is evaluated. The world is getting “smaller and more complex” so teaching has to be redefined as life-long learning as well as personal development.
Figure: A Framework for Understanding Teaching and Learning, Darling-Hammond & Bransford (2005, p. 11)

How do we do that? As Howard Gardner mentions in his new work “Five Minds for the Future”, we have to work on a learner’s profile. We have to teach individuals to master a discipline, use creative thinking, and infer strategy via synthesizing. New era’s teachers should be able to think differently, respect to differences in every sense, and behave ethically. Without forgetting that the teaching profession is a clinical one, we have to create a sustainable, hybrid, and a replicable model that will support master-apprentice, supervision, and mentoring relationships. Ogretmen Akademisi Vakfi has been training teachers from all around Turkey with this vision in mind. The goal is to establish an education system where all parties involved think critically and analyze skillfully.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Words To Inspire

By Dicle Kortantamer

“Why didn’t you go to work for Google?” someone asked after I graduated from computer engineering. I had gone into banking. When I graduated in 1998, Google was just being incorporated as a private company and technology talent primarily existed in the West. In 2011 that’s different, and that’s a good thing. Many new career opportunities are created every day. Technology isn’t confined to Silicon Valley. People from Turkey and around the World are inventing solutions to solve global problems. It is a tremendous opportunity. And, it all starts with education.

The education of future generations is so important. Randomly, we leave behind a whole group of children, whose talents are wasted and dreams are unrealized because they do not have equal access to quality education. Underutilisation of human potential is extremely costly. For individuals, this has a direct and serious impact on their lives: they are more likely to drop out of school, be unemployed or earn a dramatically lower income during their lifetime. For the world, the cost is not only to the economy. It is also in terms of missed opportunities, great inventions, entrepreneurs and leaders.

So, how do we prepare all children for an unpredictable future with the skills that will enable them to fulfill their potential? Passing on mere facts isn’t helpful. Creativity, critical thinking and collaboration become key to effectively recognizing and solving problems. It is a bit like learning to think like an entrepreneur or an inventor.

What if every child had the chance to learn these skills? What if we engaged the most skilled to help accomplish this? Those thoughts are what inspired me to leave a career in banking and become a social entrepreneur. I am the founder of 'Words to Inspire'Words to Inspire, an educational charity based in the UK. We envisage a world in which all children and young people have access to quality education and are inspired towards achieving their dreams. We believe that engaging skilled individuals in solving the most difficult problems in their community can be powerful and it can be done sustainably by creating a win-win situation for everyone involved.

I have a passion to give back to the community that educated me, so Turkey became our first country of operation. Although Turkey has made significant progress, many children are still falling behind. Only 7% of the lowest socioeconomic quartile has a chance to go to a school that provides world class education. Furthermore, half of the 15 year-old have not acquired critical life skills due to drop outs or achievement gap.

Our vision with our first project ‘Develop to Learn’ is to establish a free, world class, interactive digital library. We engage local university students through their final year projects in developing digital games that advance children’s ability to imagine, experiment and collaborate. Given the major initiative by the government to give every student a tablet computer within the next three years, this digital library has the potential to reach and transform the lives of 16 million children in K-12 education. Additionally, the project advances university students employability skills through engagement in a real project.

Human talent is extraordinary when it is nurtured. It is true that immediate needs like food and shelter are critical to a child’s well-being. We need, however, to aim higher and provide all children with equal opportunity to uncover their full potential. That will empower us to create a future full of hope for all of us. All we need is a small action from each individual to start the ripple effect. Let’s get it started...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

View from the UN on the Future for Women - Part 2

By Ayca Ariyoruk

(Editor's Note: This post has been cross-posted at )

In our previous issue, we carried the first part of an article based on an interview with Michelle Bachelet, former President of Chile and now head of UN Women. In Part 2, Bachelet talks to Turkish Philanthropy Funds about women, leadership, the “mommy careers” and why women’s participation in politics is good for the country.

What drives a woman to power?
Michelle Bachelet was the daughter of an air force general loyal to the Chilean President Salvador Allende, the world’s first democratically elected Marxist president. When the socialist Ricardo Lagos was elected president in 2000, Bachelet was first named Minister of Health and in 2002 the Minister of Defense. In that role, she was also the head of the military, an area which overwhelmingly remains in the male domain. What drove her to the position, we asked. “Our democracy was broken…There was a lack of a bridge between the military and the politicians” she explains, and for that she needed power. “There are two sources of power, one is the power from position, the other power from knowledge” she says. That’s why she studied military strategy at Chile's National Academy of Strategy and Policy and at the Inter-American Defense College in Washington.

Were there any occasions where she felt she was at a disadvantage because she was a woman? “There are always challenges when you start something new, and of course, people thought I might have a hidden agenda… That’s why you work openly and select a good team.”

Do women choose “soft power” issues such as development and social needs over the “hard-power” matters such as national security and defense policy? She protests. “There is nothing soft about social issues… Social protection, housing, education, these are important questions demanding serious economic and social decisions…true, women find these issues closer to heart…” Also true, she adds, “there are structural barriers against women’s participation in security [areas].”

An unorthodox politician at the national stage

When Bachelet was elected as Chile’s president in January of 2006, she promised “citizen democracy” based on greater participation and gender equality. Half of her cabinet members were women. How did she ensure she did not appoint a woman over a qualified man in her selection? “I can easily reverse the question” she quickly responds. The governments and cabinets around the world have more men than women. “How do they ensure they are not appointing a man over a qualified woman?” Both men and women have to be qualified, that’s why there are such things as “ selection criteria.” The bottom line is “equal representation will give you comprehensive policies that better represent the realities of your country.”

She believes quotas work. Of the 28 countries that reach or exceed UN’s 30 percent goal for women representation in elected legislation, at least 23 have adopted the so called positive discrimination. Turkey is one of the countries that has not. At 14 percent, women’s political participation in Turkey falls significantly below the European average of 22 percent.

Currently there are 19 elected heads of states or governments, I say softly, not really intending it as a question. “It is now 20” she corrects me, referring to the recent election of Thailand’s Yingluck Shinawatra as Prime Minister. Not all powerful women are “gender sensitive,” she says, recalling a meeting with a group of women executives in Davos. “Some don’t like the gender perspective; they tell me I am here not because I am a woman but because I am good at what I do.” Those women are fortunate, believes Bachelet, “they have been born in a cuddle of gold” or they don’t realize they came to where they are “despite” being a woman. Especially young women in the developed world who don’t face discrimination personally are not aware of the “structural conditions that disable woman.” It is clear Bachelet sees a responsibility for women in the position of influence to empower and enable other women.

Do women really have a choice?
Most women do not work, because they don’t have the choice, but some prefer to stay home or choose the “mommy route” in their careers, sacrificing their professional ambitions for family. Should all women work? If so why, I ask her, conscious of the fact that most of UN’s focus is on the developing world, where women are still struggling for basic rights.

“Every woman’s situation is different” she responds. The key question we should ask ourselves is whether women “really” have a choice. “Our job is to make sure when a woman chooses to work, they can work, that they don’t have to choose between their reproductive rights and their jobs, and that they have access to affordable child care.” There are multiple benefits of working, she adds, “income, independence, possibility for growth, social contacts, and contribution to the economy.”
The same principle applies to the tension globalization has created between modernization and traditional values to an extent that it has dissuaded some governments from promoting women’s rights. Should a woman have the choice to cover her body, or is that an inherently degrading act for women? Again, it is a matter of “real,” informed choice, Bachelet explains.

A solid track record
Bachelet’s most loyal supporters were people from the poorer districts of Santiago. She succeeded as a single mother and a self-professed agnostic in a conservative, Catholic country. It was only in 2004 that Chileans were given the right to divorce, despite fierce opposition from the Roman Catholic Church. During her presidency, she signed a decree allowing the morning-after contraceptive pill to be given to girls as young as 14 without their parents' consent.

As a defense minister she improved access for women to the military and the police force, and saw that women would be admitted for the first time to the naval academy. As president, she made sure that women had the right to breastfeed at work. Not only did she turn around Chile’s economy during the financial crisis, she established ambitious social protection programs for women and children, despite it. With the billions she saved from the revenues of copper sales, Ms. Bachelet’s government legalized alimony payments to divorced women and tripled the number of free child care centers for low income families.

Despite some criticism that she was too hesitant to call on the military to respond to Chile’s earthquake, she left office with an 85 percent approval rating, the highest since Chile went from dictatorship to democracy in 1990. And she had done it all, alone, without a prominent husband that typically propelled other women to become presidents in Latin America.

Macho to maternal: a new kind of leadership style

Chosen by Ban ki-moon, the UN Secretary-General, for her “uncommon ability to create consensus,” Bachelet is often described as the “Anti-Thatcher.” She is one of the first women leaders to reject male codes of power and embrace female characteristics of leadership. What is the Bachelet leadership model, I ask. “I am a doctor by training” she says, “I see someone having a heart attack, I will act” she says, not call a committee meeting. But she believes in “building legitimacy in what you want to do…strong alliances, speaking the truth… people must have ownership. This is especially true for the UN… Every region can have a particular approach, it is not fire-works, [empowerment] has to be sustainable and progressing, inclusive, with everyone’s participation.”

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Continuing to build Van

This morning a 2-week old baby was pulled from the rubble in Van, Turkey. It was remarkable news amid a grim situation. Sunday's 7.2 earthquake in Van, Turkey has been devastating.

Southeastern Turkey was already an economically deprived area. With few jobs and educational opportunities, its citizens have struggled for a long time. It has been an area that Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) has worked in for a long time. Partnering with ACEV (the Mother-Child Education Foundation), HADD (Hisar Anadolu Destek Dernegi, CYDD (Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi) and others has been focused on improving literacy, gender equality and economic prosperity in the region. Help us continue to maintain our advances - and not let the earthquake be a slide backward.

Turkish Philanthropy Funds is committed to building and advancing communities throughout Turkey. Van needs our help today.

Monday, October 24, 2011

View from the UN on the Future for Women

By Ayca Ariyoruk

(Editor's Note: This post has been cross-posted at )

Recently, Michelle Bachelet, former president of Chile and the new head of the United Nations supra-entity on women, spoke with Turkish Philanthropy Funds about several topics, including women, philanthropy, and power. Today, as the UN celebrates its 66th birthday and a humanitarian response is mounted to help survivors of an earthquake in Turkey. Thi is Part 1 of this timely discussion.

UN Women is "a baby of UN reform" says Ms. Michelle Bachelet, who until last year was best known for being the first female president of Chile, and the first female defense minister in all of the Americas. Ms. Bachelet, who has broken every mold for the betterment of her country, is now ready to do the same, this time for the world's women. The UN entity she leads supersedes the merger of four UN entities mandated with women empowerment and gender equality. She is now the under-secretary General of UN Women and is tasked to raise over $500 million in three years with a mission to make the UN a more powerful advocate for women. Recently, she sat down with Turkish Philanthropy Funds in the new offices of UN Women in New York. Investing in girls and women in Turkey is a top priority for Turkish Philanthropy Funds, a New York based community foundation serving the Turkish American diaspora. In response to the 7.2 magnitude earthquake yesterday in the eastern province of Van, TPF has established an emergency fund to direct philanthropic support to relief efforts on the ground. Since its inception in 2007, TPF has raised over $13.6 million. Education and women empowerment grants constitute the majority of TPF's giving.

A new partner to the philanthropic community
Since assuming her role at the helm of UN Women in January 2011, Bachelet has so far raised about $230 million of the $500 million in contributions and pledges. Raising money is not easy in this financial climate, she acknowledges. "Traditionally our major donors had been governments." Spain and Norway are at the top of the list, which also includes countries like Canada, the United States, Japan, and the Netherlands. But like many other non-profits, UN Women is also turning increasingly towards the private sector and to the wealthy individual philanthropists. She confirms UN Women has been following the Forbes magazine billionaire list closely. "In the world, there are more than one thousand billionaires; a huge proportion of the wealth of the world... and many of them have been contributors to the UN already...Bill and Melinda Gates, Ted Turner, George Soros."

She adds Ms. Güler Sabanci to the list, Turkey's most powerful businesswoman who took over as board chairman of the Sabanci conglomerate in May 2004 after the death of her uncle, Sakip Sabanci. Bachelet visited Turkey in May 2011 to co-host a UN conference to unlock the economic potential of rural women to accelerate development. While there she met with Güler Sabancı and had her sign the Women's Empowerment Principles, which offers guidance to businesses on how to empower women in the workplace, marketplace and community. UN Women has "not only all the possibilities, but all the will to reach many of the philanthropists" says Bachelet, yet she argues it is not all about the money. UN Women seeks joint ventures with other organizations and individuals: "how we do things together [for a] winning possibility" is more important. UN Women partners with local initiatives as much as possible. Turkish Philanthropy Funds and UN Women, for instance, share a common local grantee partner as both provide funds to Mother Child Education Foundation (Anne Çocuk Eğitim Vakfı) in Turkey.

Why give through UN Women instead of donating directly to the local NGOs or philanthropic initiatives, I ask. She is not against direct giving; on the contrary, she supports it as long as the giving is targeted and contributes to national capacities. Still, UN Women has a comparative advantage: an unmatched global reach. "[UN Women] has representation in 75 countries with capacity." That alone has a significant added value. "I truly believe in many parts of the world, you don't need to reinvent the wheel. There is a lot of experience that can be shared...UN has the potential to take successful local approaches... [come up with a] a pilot plan that can be transferred to another place according to their own circumstances... and escalate progress [based] on internationally agreed upon goals."

Such internationally agreed upon goals are viewed by many observers as lofty and unrealistic. Can the world achieve gender equality by 2015 as targeted by the UN Millennium Development Goals? Not likely, but that's not the only concern for UN Women.

"In many countries, the data on the status of women is inadequate and research is needed in specific areas" she continues. "There are so many places doing so much research but [do we] know if it [benefits the women?]" Bachelet clearly sees the role of UN Women as a knowledge hub and a global network of people where all the information and expertise through research can be brought together. It is not an easy task, she acknowledges, given the number of actors involved. Diaspora philanthropy organizations are new additions among these players. Likewise, they emphasize intellectual giving through social and human capital transfers. In this crowded field, coordination and sharing of information by international organizations becomes all the more important.

Read Part 2.

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Van, Turkey Earthquake Relief Fund

All of us at TPF have been saddened by news of the terrible earthquake that has struck the eastern province of Van in Turkey. Kandilli Observatory and Earthquake Research Institute of Turkey has estimated that between 500 and 1,000 people may have perished in the 7.2-magnitude earthquake. Our thoughts are with the injured and the families of the victims. We extend our deepest condolences to all families who lost their loved ones.

We would like to convey our sympathy and solidarity by establishing the Van Earthquake Relief Fund at TPF. 100 % of your contributions will go to AKUT, Kizilay and TPF grantee partners who are directly involved with Van, to help victims recover from the devastating effects of the earthquake.

To contribute to the Van Earthquake Relief Fund, click here.

You may also contribute to the Van Earthquake Relief Fund by sending your check to:
Turkish Philanthropy Funds
Re: Van Earthquake Relief Fund
216 East 45th Street, 7th Fl.
New York, New York 10017
Please make your checks payable to Turkish Philanthropy Funds and indicate "Van Earthquake Relief Fund" on the check.

For additional information, please email .

Friday, September 9, 2011

Immigrant identity crises post 9/11: Women are the solution

By Şenay Özdemir

I am a Turkish journalist. I am also Dutch and a Texan. I am a woman, a feminist, a mother, a lecturer, a soloist and a world traveller. I am also Muslim. Yet, since 9/11, my Muslim identity counted more than any other characteristic that has contributed to who I am today. Far worse is the western media’s attributes of the actions of very few Islamists to an otherwise peaceful faith with millions of followers.

There is the common people’s religion and than there are the Islamists, the extremists who follow a violent ideology. In other words, not all Muslims are Islamists. And my identity is far more complex to be defined by faith alone. I grew up in Europe with a strict secular upbringing and I find such homogenous “branding” of Muslims frustrating. Prejudices are for the lazy and for the intellectually weak. Why can’t Muslims experience religion as individuals?

A few years back, as part of an international visitor’s program I met with a fellow journalist in the United States. We ended up talking about motherhood, journalism, relationships and family ties, but nothing on religion. We had more in common than what separated us. The fact that she was a Christian and I was a Muslim had nothing to do with what we shared with one another.

The same principle applies to the American identity. Americans are like a smorgasbord, the Swedish buffet which offers endless variety. They are liberals, they are conservatives, they are rich and they are poor. Not all of them are as conservative as Sarah Palin, or as liberal as Rachel Maddow, certainly not all are racists as the Klu Klux Klan. Neither are Muslims.

I am an optimist. Changes in Islam will come from Muslim women as they are endlessly being questioned about their religion. That’s why we have the urge to know more about our faith than most counterparts from other faiths. Such questioning is good for the entire community. What does one truly know about her religious and cultural identity? Does a Muslim woman have a religion of faith or has she adopted the family and national traditions as her own? Does she cling to the old ways and fight-off any changes to customs as an infringement of her heritage? Does she find her new cultural surroundings uncomfortable or even irritating?

Women have been on the forefront of the protests in the Arab uprisings. They stood up for their rights; they ran equality campaigns, advocated multiculturalism and fought the extremists. Women have been the first victims of extremism, and that’s why they are desperate to make changes. It needs not to be the Western way, but our way, and of our own making.

Due to easy access to information on internet, Muslim women know they have rights. They are more educated and more women are literate. They do not accept inequality anymore, which is why they talk, discuss and write about delicate issues.

I wrote about women and sex in my first book The Wax Club, so did many other Muslim authors. The North African author Nedjma proved in her erotica novel Wild Fig that Muslim women can write about sex. When asked why she has chosen that topic, she said:

It all happened after 9/11. I wanted to break down the negative image of Arabic women by writing about love and erotica. By showing that not all Arabic women are veiled and by explaining that the Western perspective is too much one-sided. And I wanted to shock the Arab man with a story about female sexuality. In the Maghreb sex is a taboo; you don’t talk about it, let alone write about it. Wild Fig is my protest against both parties.

My hope is that more Muslim women and the next generation of Muslim women will see their faith as means to a new way of life, one that is ready to tackle the difficulties of the twenty first century. As the famous scholar Akbar S. Ahmed said: “We should not approach Islam as an exotic and different world. It shouldn’t be the Islam versus the West, it should be Islam in the West.”

Şenay Özdemir is a Dutch-Turkish journalist and a women’s rights advocate. She gained fame as the first Turkish TV host in Europe. Currently she is a lecturer/researcher at the University of Texas. Follow Senay on twitter:

Thursday, August 25, 2011

The Final Countdown: Young Turks Climbing Mountain Kilimanjaro to Raise Funds

Editor’s Note: On August 28, The Hakuna Matata team is taking on Mountain Kilimanjaro in Tanzania to raise money for underprivileged students in Turkey. They aim to raise 28,000TL (roughly equal to 15,655 USD or 10,877 Euros). They’ve already raised 17,774 TL. The team takes its name from the Swahili phrase ‘hakuna matata’ which translates "no worries, no problem" in English and, “bos ver, dert etme) in Turkish. The phrase gained international recognition through the movie Lion King which devoted a song to it. The movie takes place nearby the Kilimanjaro Mountain.

We are eight volunteers from Turkey planning to climb Mt. Kilimanjaro at the end of this month. Having lived in the US, UK and Canada for six plus years, we have embraced the custom of philanthropy, and dedicated our climb to a cause that we personally care about. Through the support of Toplum Gonulluleri Vakfi (TOG)'s Genclere Deger (Valuing Young People) initiative we will be hiking for Adim Adim (translates roughly as “Step by Step”). Adim Adim is a young organization, founded by college students and young professionals who are united by the sentiment that “there has to be more to life" than work (in Stacie Orrico’s wise words), and is dedicated to empowering the Turkish youth.

What attracted us the most to this organization is the need to raise awareness and funds for students who were not as lucky as the eight of us. The funds will assist young adults on financial aid, and will enable them to be active outside of the classroom through extracurricular activities. Through this cause, we hope to help cultivate a youth who have a better understanding of what being a citizen of the world means, which we have learned to appreciate during our time living outside of Turkey.

To learn about our personal stories, visit our webpage, and to support our initiative, visit our contribution page. For more information about our team, progress, training, and how close we are to our departure date, feel free to talk us through our Facebook or follow us on Twitter: @hakunamatataTR

with love and gratitude,

Hakuna Matata Team

(Ayşe, Begüm, Doruk, Itır, Jean, Selin, Şirin, and Volkan)

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Crossing the digital divide or stuck at the border?

by Filiz Bikmen

(Editor’s note: Turkish Philanthropy Funds partners with Global Giving to help Turkish NGOs tap online fundraising networks. In her guest blog post for TPF, Filiz Bikmen discusses the opportunities and challenges of using online giving platforms in Turkey. Filiz Bikmen's post has been cross-posted at Alliance Magazine.)

I commend globalgiving and other similar platforms, many of which are US-based, in their ability to mobilize the power of the internet to help charities and donors cross the digital divide. Needless to say, I was both pleased and frustrated to learn that globalgiving planned a visit with Turkish charities earlier this summer. Pleased because it offers charities the opportunity to showcase their good work and raise funds from donors all over the world… frustrated because Turkey still lacks any sort of similar mechanism – on or off line. Given this scenario, should we focus our efforts on helping Turkish charities cross that digital divide and join the global fundraising movement or focus more on building similar systems at the national and local level? Or both?

Our late and esteemed colleague Olga Alexeeva (A suggestion to improve fundraising in emerging markets: just a technical issue, 27 July 2011) just recently touched on similar issues regarding the pros and cons of fundraising and, in general, ways to make (giving, and) repeat giving easy and accessible in emerging countries. I could not agree more. Bearing great resemblance to Russia, there are practically no credible channels to recruit donors for one time or regular/repeat donations to charities in Turkey. Worse yet, there is no CAF office or any CAF-like organization whose sole mission it is to increase the amount and effectiveness of giving in Turkey. At best there are a handful of charities running limited time fundraising campaigns and a growing cohort of charities which are appreciative but tired of having the EU as their only donor, and are keen to diversify. There have been attempts made in good faith to address this gap, but the honest truth is that we are not very far from where we started. The gap between charities and donors remains.

As such, I was quite curious to learn what globalgiving Field Representatives Shahd AlShehail and Isabel Nicholson would uncover in their meetings with Turkish charities in three cities (Istanbul, Izmir and Diyarbakir) earlier this summer. Both were kind enough to respond to my questions about how charities reacted to globalgiving and online fundraising in general.

They reported regional differences in terms of organizational capacity and English language ability – not surprising and clearly serious deterrents for using globalgiving (and accessing other foreign funds). Yet they also had the impression that ‘Turkey is at the forefront in terms of using social media to engage donors and spread a message’. Having entered that ‘world’ through some programmes I am involved in, I can attest to the explosion of social movements via social media. However admirable it is, these movement are more so about raising consciousness, not money.

Another finding was that most charities expressed a lack of clarity and a degree of frustration about fundraising laws. ‘Public’ fundraising activities (collecting online donations, raising funds through portals, or any other public campaign) continue to require bureaucratically confusing and complicated procedures and permissions at the national level. And while receipt or foreign funds is no longer subject to permission, each donation must be filed with public officials before use. No easy feat if you’re collecting 10 USD at a time! While several years back, the Turkish government improved the charity law, there is still more to do to making giving easy and accessible.

In her post, Olga proposes that this is a ‘technical’ problem, and that we need to ‘decrease’ the asking price of donations. The factors that increase the asking price in Turkey include cumbersome policies/procedures, lack of centralized systems, donor services, fundraising skills and the burden of foreign language requirements – quite similar to most emerging market countries.

While it is not globalgiving’s mandate to decrease the ‘asking price’ per se, for charities in contexts like Turkey, perhaps they could help us both build capacity of charities to join their networks while also sharing their know-how to help build similar local mechanisms.

Note from the author: I would like to dedicate this piece to the memory of Olga Alexeeva whose vision and pursuit inspired me. May she rest in peace knowing that we are all continuing to help make her visions a reality.

Filiz Bikmen is a foundation professional, speaker and author based in Istanbul, Turkey. Currently is the director of programs and international relations at Sabancı Foundation and a regular contributor to Alliance Magazine.

Somalia Relief Fund

As the crisis in the Horn of Africa deepens, we believe that it is our moral obligation to respond to this human crisis.

We have established the Somalia Relief Fund at TPF. 100% of your funds will go to UNICEF to support the funding gap of $120 million for its emergency operations in Somalia. Among the most urgent needs in the crisis response are therapeutic food for malnourished children, safe water for tankering in drought-stricken areas, bednets to prevent malaria, and family kits for people on the move – like the thousands of refugees who are crossing into Kenya from Somalia.

$20 can provide 480 High Energy Protein Biscuits to provide children nutrition in the wake of a disaster.
$140 can provide a Basic Family Water Kit to provide clean drinking water to 10 families.
$256 can provide a School-in-a-box kit to set up a temporary school for 40 students during an emergency–containing a chalk board, notebooks, pencils, erasers, scissors and even multi-band radio.

To contribute to the Somalia Relief Fund online through TPF, click here.

You can also contribute to the Somalia Relief Fund by sending your check to:
Turkish Philanthropy Funds
Re: Somalia Relief Fund
216 East 45th Street, 7th Fl.
New York, New York 10017
Please make your checks payable to Turkish Philanthropy Funds and indicate “Somalia Relief” on the check. For additional information, please email

If you would like to make a contribution from your Donor-Advised Fund with TPF, please call 646.530.8988.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Gender Equality as Smart Economics: Solving the Turkish Dilemma

By Asli Gurkan

Robert B. Zoellick, the president of the World Bank, was in Turkey last week. During his four-day visit on July 19-22, Zoellick praised Turkey’s economic progress with caution. On top of his agenda was the need to increase female participation in the Turkish workforce. It wasn't a coincidence that Zoellick commended Turkey's remarkable economic performance and spoke of the growing gender-gap in Turkey concurrently. The Turkish case presents a dilemma: Despite Turkey's successes in macroeconomic stability and poverty-reduction; the participation of women in economic life is abysmal. Turkey was among the lowest scoring countries in the 2010 World Economic Forum Gender Equality Gap Report and scored 126th out of 134th in the UNDP Gender Inequality Index. What is more worrisome is that women's economic participation rates have been declining in the last decade. The latest figures stand at 25 percent, significantly lower than the OECD average.

Female workforce Participation Rates- Turkey vs. Organizations for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD)

Source: "Turkey's Greatest Untapped Potential: Women": Turkish State Planning Organization and World Bank Presentation, 2009.

Why is women's labor force participation so low and declining? Two recent studies supported by the World Bank, “Turkey's Greatest Untapped Potential: Women” (2009) and the Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey (TÜBİTAK)’s “Women Employment in Turkey" (2010), give us helpful clues.

According to these studies, urbanization is a key contributor. Women, many of whom are unpaid agricultural laborers in rural areas stay home when they move into urban areas, citing reasons such as family pressures, security reasons, harsh working conditions, and low-wages. This is particularly the case for those with little or no education. While young men, even in the rural areas, are transitioning from agricultural jobs into better-paid jobs in the manufacturing and services sectors, women are staying home. A top reason cited by women is the lack of affordable childcare. According to the TUBITAK study women in Istanbul have to pay “between 500 and 600 Turkish Lira per month (about $350-400) just for childcare if they decided to work and more for other extra costs of additional household help."

Among other contributing reasons to staying home, women list "harassment" and "gossiping." In the interviews, they said "men often make sexual gestures towards women employees and that women do not know how to protect themselves against sexual harassment." Rumors are also considered a concern even for educated women. TUBITAK study quotes a female engineer who, despite being extremely qualified for a particular job, was not hired. Apparently, the employer said: "I am looking for someone who can have business trips with me. But how could I go with a female worker? It can lead to rumors."

The new initiative, Women Gender Equality Certificate, that Zoellick announced jointly with Turkey's prominent women's organization, KAGIDER, is a highly encouraging step to overcome some of these challenges. The initiative attempts to bring new rules and regulations to fight against gender discrimination on promotion, training, and working conditions. There are other notable initiatives such as subsidizing employers’ social security contributions for newly hired women for up to five years. Yet, women's stories indicate that focusing solely on employers and structural reforms is only half of the problem. Their voices point to deeper socio-cultural issues of a society that is still struggling to balance conservative values with realities of a global era and internalize men-women co-existence in the workforce.

Whatever one's beliefs and values may be when it comes to equality in the workforce, Turkey cannot afford excluding the women. The reason is simple. As Diego Angel-Urdinola, the lead author of the World Bank study so succinctly explains: In the same way that you wouldn’t play football without a full team, countries can’t compete globally if they don’t use the full potential of all their citizens.”

Asli Gurkan is a Social Development Specialist at the World Bank based in Washington-DC.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Turkish Athletes’ Special Revolution through the Sports

By Pelin Cebi

Don’t we all want to live in a society where equal opportunities are based on tolerance, social inclusion and acceptance regardless of ethnicity, gender, religion, and abilities? I know that I do. I want to live in a community where each person’s uniqueness is appreciated and nurtured. That’s why I paid attention to the 13th Special Olympics World Summer Games which took place between June 25-July 4 in Athens. World Games are one the most influential events that promote social inclusion and acceptance for people with intellectual disabilities.

This year’s games celebrated the lives of more than 7,000 special athletes from nearly 180 countries. Turkey was one of the 180 countries and participated with 105 athletes. Team Turkey competed in seven different disciplines. The enthusiasm of these brave athletes captured the hearts and minds of the many and sent a powerful message to the world, “everybody can win”. There are just over 14,000 athletes in Special Olympics in Turkey receiving training on Alpine Skiing, Aquatics, Basketball, Football, Gymnastics, Powerlifting, Table Tennis and Volleyball.

“Special Olympics Turkey relies mostly on private philanthropic funding” explains Maureen Rabbitt, the Director of Communications at Special Olympics who is responsible for the Europe and Eurasia regions. Since its inception, Dilek Sabanci, an outspoken supporter and an inspiration to people with intellectual disabilities in Turkey, has been at the heart of the movement. 30 percent of Special Olympics Turkey’s funding comes from commercial sponsors.

Melih Gurel, the National Director of Special Olympics in Turkey, describes the most prevailing challenge in Turkey to be the lack of awareness and understanding from parents on the potential of training for their children. “Special Olympics Turkey finds it difficult to encourage athletes to leave their homes or schools to train due to resistance by their parents. This is an educational and public awareness matter that Special Olympics Turkey is working to address.”

Wilfried Lemke, the United Nations Special Advisor on Sport for Development and Peace, spoke at this year’s opening ceremonies and also made a point on

awareness. “Special Olympics transforms communities from closed to open ones, from intolerant to accepting ones and by using sport to accomplish this, has come to represent the good, the power and the true spirit of sport.” True, the challenge is due to the indifference and prejudiced attitude towards the intellectually disabled. Living standards of people with disabilities and quality of services offered are also important indicators of a country’s health, education and economic development.

In recent years, Turkey has made progress in acceptance and inclusion of people with intellectual disabilities thanks to a few organizations like Special Olympics Turkey, the Human Rights in Mental Health Initiative (RUSIHAK), and one of TPF’s grantees, Tohum Autism Foundation and many more. Efforts of such organizations reflect a growing movement towards the inclusion of the intellectually disabled into society. There are many ways in which you can help to promote the advancement of people with intellectual disabilities. You can volunteer as a coach or run events, and write and share stories of your experiences.

"The Key is Opportunity," as Special Olympics so simply puts it. These and other organizations provide the keys for change to athletes and supporters alike. Will you take the opportunity to make a difference?

Pelin Cebi is a former Associate Director for Development for the New York City Region of Special Olympics. Ms. Cebi currently lives in San Francisco and works as a training program specialist in a leading financial institution.

From Top:
Turkish Athletes during the opening ceremony;
Muhtar Kent, Chairman of The Coca-Cola Company, marched with Special Olympics Turkey in the Parade of Athletes
Credit: Will Schermerhorn

Thursday, July 7, 2011

UN Report Praises Turkey’s Women Movement

Posted by Ayca Ariyoruk

Despite remarkable legal advances women made around the world in their quest to attain equal opportunities – there is a wide gap in implementation and delivery of justice matters. This is the message of Progress of the World’s Women 2011-2011; In Pursuit of Justice, the first global report on women released yesterday by UN Women. The new supra-departmental agency UN Women was founded in 2010 with the merger of four separate UN entities working on the advancement of women.

“Justice is the foundation of gender equality” said Michelle Bachelet, the undersecretary-general of UN Women and formerly Chile’s first female president, at a press conference yesterday. That why the UN Women has chosen legal rights as the theme for the inaugural report.

According to the report, 125 countries have outlawed domestic violence. Turkey is one of them. Turkey changed penal and civil codes in 2004 and 2005 to increase sentences for honor killers. The problem remains in implementation and the delivery of justice. “Two thirds of countries have laws against domestic violence but legislation is only the first step…In Muslim countries, you have the laws but there is a gap in implementation” argues Bachelet.

The report puts forward proven and achievable recommendations that work. For instance, placing women in front line of law enforcement helps. The study observed increased reporting on sexual violence in countries where more women serve in the police.

Bachelet praises women activists who made it clear that “culture and religion cannot be used as an excuse to justify gender discrimination and injustice. Injustice is not inevitable or natural. It is not a basis for any culture or religion and we have the power to change it.”

In a case study on Turkey, UN Women recognizes Turkey’s women movement that launched “a bold campaign” and “culminated in a new penal code in 2004, which included the criminalization of marital rape and sexual harassment in the workplace, the revision of all articles discriminating between single and married women and the strengthening of provisions on sexual abuse of children.”

Monday, June 20, 2011

Yes She Can! TPF Joins Public-Private Partnership

By Ayca Ariyoruk

Can you imagine, at the age of 17, packing a back-pack for your wedding instead of your math class? That is not too far from reality for hundreds and thousands of girls, who are out of school in Turkey. Despite joining the Group of 20, the exclusive club of most powerful economies, Turkey ranks at 126, out of 134 on gender gap according to the World Economic Forum Report. Turkey is behind Iran (123) and Bangladesh (82). The vast majority of the worst-scoring countries are Muslim.

In order to help change this little-known unfortunate reality, Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) joined forces with a group of public and private partners that have answered a call from President Obama for a new beginning between the United States and Muslim communities. Following President Obama’s call famous Cairo Speech on June of 2009, notable organizations and companies such as Morgan Stanley, Cisco, Exxon Mobile, Intel, The Coca-Cola Company, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, Case Foundation and Brown University have volunteered resources of money and talent to spearhead a new initiative properly entitled Partners for a New Beginning. So did TPF.

TPF’ s “Yes She Can!” will work with two local partners, Turkcell, the Turkish telecommunications giant and Cagdas Yasami Destekleme Dernegi (Association for the Support of the Contemporary Living), a not-for-profit dedicated to increasing the schooling of girls in Turkey. Together they will launch a mentorship program that will connect Turkish girls between the ages of 12-21 to professional women in the United States. The immediate purpose is to increase college enrollment that will in the long-term result with more women in the workforce, gradually improving gender equality in Turkey. Turkcell and TPF will also fund scholarships.

Yes She Can will engage at least 100 girls in its first year, and increase that number by 10 percent in the each following year, eventually reducing the number of girls not attending primary school down to half million by 2020, and to 300,000 by 2025.

Yes She Can is not the only public and private partnership in Turkey. For instance, Cisco’s SPARK for Women will provide economic opportunities to women In Turkey through information technology education and training. 120 women in six cities will become trainers and will each train additional 20 women, impacting 2,400 women in total. IBM will invest in $1.2 million and send its highest performer business and IT consultants to provide free consulting to local clients in Istanbul, Jakarta and Cairo.

Such public and private ventures are gaining popularity over traditional forms of foreign-aid. Simply increasing aid to the poor can do more harm than good, by creating dependency, feeding corruption and poor governance. The poor do not need charity but sound investments that spur economic growth and opportunities, create jobs and raise standard of living. That’s why the US is increasingly turning towards strategic partnerships with the private and public sector.

If you are one of the many Americans wondering why you should be concerned about the poor elsewhere in face of such economic hardship at home, think about the countless benefits to the increasingly connected global-economy. The women who will benefit from PNB’s education and training programs will in the long run help improve economic standards in Turkey. So by participating, you are not only being a do-gooder, but also making an investment for your own future in some little way.

Share with us your thoughts on public-private partnerships at Would you like to mentor a girl in Turkey? For more information on how you can participate in Yes She Can, contact us at


Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Hillary’s Smart Power and a "Golden Age for Philanthropy in Turkey"

By Ayca Ariyoruk

Hillary Clinton wants to put diversity into work. That’s why in May, she brought together hundreds of first, second-generation Americans or Americans-to-be at the Secretary’s Global Diaspora Forum in Washington DC. If you are, like me, thinking, “We don’t want anything to do with the place we come from. They will never resolve their differences, and it is a waste of our time. We can’t possibly make any contribution,” as Clinton put in her own words, read on because Madame Secretary respectfully disagrees with you. She may convince you otherwise. She convinced me.

Currently, more than 60 million Americans are first or second generation Diasporas in America. America ranks first among countries with the largest number of international migrants, not a surprising fact given almost all Americans have immigrant roots further back. 60 million is a lot of people, makes up a population comparable to that of a mid-size country. A “potential” as Secretary Clinton calls it and a key tool in America’s national strategy of employing smart-power. Harvard Professor Joseph Nye defines smart power as the strategic use and choice of hard power –military, economic means or soft power –culture, values, policies and institutions, for a winning strategy. In other words knowing which power to employ and when.

“Using people-to-people exchange is the core of smart power” Clinton says, the Peace Corps, US Agency for International Development, Overseas Private Investment Corporation and the State Department “all rolled into one.”

She is not kidding. $46 billion is the amount of remittances sent by US Diaspora in 2010, according to the State Department, almost twice the $28.7 billion US Official Development Assistant in 2009. The term ‘remittances’ generally refers to transfers in cash or kind from a migrant to household resident, in the country of origin, such as a worker’s remittance.

Yet it is not just about money and how much Diaspora sends back. The hearts and minds engaged for the good of the people in the homeland, also known as the Diaspora Philanthropy, counts more. Let’s not forget, philanthropy is different from charity. Philanthropy refers to seeking out the root causes of problems and solving them. It is transformational giving aimed at bringing about social change and influencing policy. Now-a-days, you can’t win wars only through military means, nor can you build peace-loving democracies with healthy economies solely on foreign aid. That’s where Philantrophy, or smart-charity as I would like to call it, comes in.

For instance, Turkish Philanthropy Funds (TPF) offers leadership, skills and networks to increase access to education in Turkey and to empower women in exercising economic control over their lives. TPF does that by connecting members of the Turkish-American Diaspora community to innovative causes in Turkey. More than your money (simple in-cash donations are always welcome), TPF needs your ideas and your skills. As the only speaker from the Turkish-American community at Secretary’s Diaspora forum, Ozlenen Eser Kalav, TPF’s president explains TPF’s unique model on giving: “TPF does not approach Diaspora philanthropy as a matter of quantity. We pay special attention to donors’ involvement…”

The Turkish-American community is a predominantly immigrant community. Only 25 percent of the Turkish-Americans living in the United States are US-born. Bonds to Turkey still fresh, we are conscious of our ethnic ties. Most of us came to the US from middle-income families to advance in our educations, not out of desperation. We reached a point where we can think about giving back to larger communities in Turkey, having an impact beyond the small family unit. That’s why since its inception in 2007, TPF was able to grant over $10.4 million to Turkish and US non-profits. Over 1,200 students, women, children and their families have benefited from TPF funded programs.

Turkey’s growing economy makes it a perfect place to invest in new ideas and networks, the bread and butter of philanthropy. The economy is ripe and can produce wealth and nurture entrepreneurship, innovation, paving a path for which Michael Green describes as the “golden age of philanthropy” in Turkey. He has a point. A decade of robust growth placed Turkey among the top 20 economies of the world. Yet, like many other countries, Turkey is unevenly affected by the forces of globalization which is for the most part responsible for this notable growth. While some populations in the society are moving ahead and are placed above the curve, some are falling behind considerably.

If you are now a new convert, like me, who thinks making a difference in Turkey is possible, write to us, about your ideas, your passion, and together we will find ways to be smart about it.

Ayca Ariyoruk joined Turkish Philanthropy Funds as Director of Communications and Outreach in May of 2011. She will be a regular contributor to TPFundBlog bringing you stories on philanthropy and global development.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

TPF Founders Receive Global Citizenship Award from Turkish American Business Forum

Turkish Philanthropy Funds Founding CEO and President Ozlenen Eser Kalav and Founding Chairman Haldun Tashman were honored with the Global Citizenship Award at the 9th Annual Turkish American Business Forum Gala on May 19, 2011.

The Global Citizenship Award recognizes individuals for their global perspective, commitment and contributions to education and philanthropy. Haldun Tashman and Ozlenen Kalav were the first recipients of this special award and hope to set an example for future generation of Turkish-Americans to give back to their community.

Hamdi Ulukaya, Jan Nahum, Lawrence M. Kaye, and Cenk Uygur were also honored by the Turkish American Business Forum at the Gala this year.