Mona Foundation supports grassroots educational initiatives that provide education to all children, increase opportunities for women and girls, and emphasize service to the community. Our goal is to eliminate global poverty and support community led transformation such that no child ever goes to bed hungry, or is lost to preventable diseases, or is deprived of gift of education for lack of resources. We believe that the keys to alleviating poverty are universal education, gender equality, and community building.
Mona was founded in 1999 by a small group of people who drew their inspiration from the Baha’i principles of justice and equality, universal education and indiscriminate service to all. We seek to work with like-minded people or organizations, locally, nationally and internationally, to demonstrate in action that people of all backgrounds can come together in the service of our common good.
The foundation is named after a 16-year old girl who was executed in Iran in 1983 for her beliefs as a Baha’i and for teaching children’s classes. Mona loved children and had volunteered in an orphanage since the age of thirteen. Her youth and courage, and her dedication to justice and service to others inspired us to name the foundation after her.
Since 1999, Mona has awarded more than $10 million to 35 educational initiatives in 18 countries, providing access to quality education and training for more than 245,000 students, teachers and families.
We select our long-term partners after a thorough process that includes site visits. Our board of directors selects each initiative which meets our project selection criteria. For more details please refer to our Reports and Documents page.
Global poverty is not going to be solved by economics alone. A new inclusive model for sustainable development must be created if there is any hope of lifting people out of poverty. In addition to the experiences we have observed over time with our partners, Mona Foundation’s approach to development is informed and guided by over 100 years of cumulative learning gleaned from the experience of various international development organizations including the Baha’i International Community, the United Nations, the World Bank and other NGOs active in the field. Best practices that govern our work include:
Development is a long-term process. Any development effort must originate at the grassroots level by members of the local community. Over time, through a process of consultation, action and reflection, the community builds its own capacity to implement projects of increased complexity.
Capacity building is directly related to learning how to work towards goals in a disciplined way, how to foster openness in decision-making by engaging in community consultation, how to build relationships based on collaboration and service to others, and how to develop the skills and commitment necessary to generate and apply lessons learned to build even more capacity.
Local ownership, local solutions
Every community has their own set of unique challenges and solutions. For every community and every country development needs to be responsive to local aspirations and initiatives. Of course, development ideas and projects should not be imposed from outside the local community. National or international knowledge about proven and well-conceived development approaches can be shared as long as the local community remains owner and creator of their own solutions.
As with any new skill, engaging in learning through a systematic and ongoing process of consultation, action and reflection designed to bring about consistent patterns of change, is essential to develop the capacity and skills we need to build a better world together.
Development is sustained and sustainable when service to others is the core value that drives our everyday action as individuals and as community members. Service to others helps us be the best we can be and exponentially increases our impact in whatever step we take for the betterment of ourselves, our communities and our nations.
Values and ethics
Those who demonstrate ethical behavior powerfully influence the actions of others. How values shape human progress is increasingly a topic of consideration among development practitioners and a learning opportunity for us all.
Mona Foundation believes that social and economic development activities are therefore an expression of faith in action underpinned by the belief that every culture and segment of humanity represents a distinct heritage that must be encouraged to flourish and contribute to an emerging global civilization.
“Why is it crucial to ensure that nearly 4 billion girls and women around the world have the same chances to receive an education as boys and men? First, education is a human right, enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child. Second, girls’ education is a strategic development investment – evidence shows that girls’ education brings a wide range of benefits not only for the girls themselves but also for their children and their communities, as well as society at large in terms of economic growth.
There is also a multiplier effect to educating girls and women. More educated women tend to be healthier, participate more in the formal labor market, earn more income, have fewer children, and provide better health care and education to their children, all of which eventually improve the well-being of all individuals and can lift households out of poverty. These benefits also transmit across generations, as well as to communities at large.” - World Bank report on education of girls, 2016.
All races, religions, and social classes deserve the opportunity to receive a quality education. Mona Foundation finds locally operated programs that educate people of all backgrounds and raise the status of girls and women. We believe that sustainable development is a process of individuals, communities, and institutions building capacity—where local people lead the process of their own development. Educated communities are healthier, more sustainable, and less vulnerable to economic volatility.
“If you educate a woman, you educate the whole family. If you educate a man, you educate just one person.” – Yogesh Jadhav, Barli Institute
Providing equal educational opportunities to girls and women yields a higher rate of return than any other investment that can be made in the developing world. Equality not only guarantees basic rights, it enables girls and women to chart the course of their own lives in their society. It is also vital to promoting the robust, shared growth needed to end extreme poverty. World Bank data demonstrates that gender equality and economic development are inextricably linked. Studies show that increasing education specifically for girls and women has a direct effect on a nation’s economic development.
“Girls’ education is a strategic development investment – evidence shows that girls’ education brings a wide range of benefits not only for the girls themselves but also for their children and their communities, as well as society at large in terms of economic growth.” – World Bank report of education of girls.
All people have the innate capacity to lead themselves and their communities. The individuals most affected are the ones most ready to affect change. Supporting communities in their own self-advocacy promotes empowerment, rather than dependency. Many students we support work with their communities to establish literacy programs, women health centers, parental trainings, cleanliness drives, tree plantations, and many other programs that stimulate harmony and community building in their communities.
“The girls become beacons of light for their rural communities, bringing gender equality and sustainable community development practices.” – Tahera Jadhav, Barli Institute.
Mona Foundation sends 85% of all contributions it receives to the projects we support.
The Mona Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt, non-profit organization in accordance with the Internal Revenue Service codes of the United States of America. All donations made from donors within US are tax deductible. Donors from other countries should consult a certified public accountant registered within their country of residence.
Mona Foundation is officially certified every year by the State of Washington. We embrace nonprofit accountability and transparency. We are a registered member of the Better Business Bureau (BBB) and enjoy the Platnium status granted by GuideStar (www.guidestar.org) given only to organizations which meet their very strict accountability and transparency requirements.
Mona Foundation does not accept unsolicited proposals. Letters of Inquiry should be submitted to firstname.lastname@example.org by September 1st of each year. Due to the large number of inquiries we receive, we do our very best to respond in a timely manner. If your inquiry is coming from outside of the United States, please be sure to include an email address.