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 alleviate 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. 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 246,000 students, teachers and parents,
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 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 courage to stand for what she believed, her youth, and her dedication to justice and service inspired us to name the foundation after her.
We believe that the key to alleviating poverty and achieving positive community transformation lies in universal education and gender equality. Mona Foundation integrates the following values in all aspects of its operation:
Since 1999, Mona has granted $10 million to 35 projects in 18 countries, supporting the education of 246,000 students, teachers and parents each year. For 2016 we supported partner organizations in US, Haiti, Panama, Brazil, Vietnam, China, Mongolia, and India.
Universal education, gender equality and community transformation remain the focus of all Mona Foundation activities.
Universal education: Learning is intrinsic to human reality, and everyone deserves 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 in which individuals, communities and institutions build capacity and own and lead their own development plans. Educated communities are healthier, more sustainable, and less vulnerable to economic volatility.
Gender equality: Providing equal educational opportunities to girls and women yield a higher rate of return than any other investment that can be made in our communities. Equality not only guarantees basic rights, 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 and increasing education specifically for girls and women has a direct effect on a nation’s economic development.
Community building: All people have the right and the responsibility to lead their own lives and to contribute to the betterment of their own 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.
We partner with community-led organizations that educate and serve everyone, empower women and girls, improve economic opportunity for all, and catalyze individual and community transformation.
Our approach and framework to development act as a guide and influences the way we think of social action and change. At the heart of this framework lie our beliefs about the nature of human beings. These beliefs are Baha’i inspired and universal in their nature and include:
Oneness of the world of humanity – that each person, regardless of economic status, has the right, the capacity and the responsibility to be the protagonist of the process of their own development, and contribute to the betterment of their communities. This view of human beings does not permit us to regard people as helpless victims nor as passive recipients of aid. Rather, development work based on this view tries to tap into the vast pool of capabilities of local people and to empower them to become the protagonists of their own development.
Coherence of material and moral dimensions of human reality– that development should not only be defined by materials goals, e.g. the building of the infrastructure or academic achievement, rather, and perhaps more importantly, by the degree to which the participants in the process have the moral capabilities (integrity, trustworthiness, commitment to service and justice and alike) needed to serve their own interests and also contribute to the betterment of their communities.
Equality of men and women – that community development can only happen when men and women have and enjoy equal rights and opportunities and equally participate in this process.
At Mona Foundation, development is viewed as a process, the main protagonists of which are the people themselves, irrespective of the degree of their material prosperity. We believe that development activity emerges from within a community and belongs to the people and institutions that are implementing the effort. While social action is directed towards visible improvements of some aspect of life, the main function of the project is to develop people’s capacity to make decisions about their development and then to implement them.
At the level of practice, this framework translates into the following essential requirements for sustained development:
Our relationship with the development projects we support is naturally governed by the core values that inspire us, and the principles that guide our work. As such, we believe that the responsibility for managing all aspects of implementing the project being funded rests with the project. We see our role as the representative and voice of the project, and act as its advocate before our donors. We do so while honoring and meeting our full fiduciary responsibilities to our donors and provide full transparency and accountability for all our actions and decisions.
Our project selection criteria ensures that Mona Foundation only supports local educational institutions who have a proven capacity to utilize funds effectively, and the ability to interact well with outside donors.
We rely on the Office of Social and Economic Development (OSED) when we select projects founded by the Baha'is*. This Agency was established in 1983 by the Baha'i International Community to facilitate learning about social and economic development. The agency helps to strengthen institutional capacity in countries where Baha'i inspired development efforts exists by fostering and supporting the learning process through community consultation, action, study and reflection, and through systematization of experience and training.
OSED has been our trusted partner for many years. They are in touch with local grass-roots NGOs implementing the development projects and monitoring their activities and progress and know when these NGOs have the experience and the institutional capacity to receive and manage funds from external sources. Thus, we have the advantage of working together with local partners who have a positive track record, have demonstrated trustworthiness and reliability and have the capacity to collaborate with external funding agencies.
* Baha'i activity in the field of social and economic development seeks to promote the well-being of people of all walks of life, whatever their beliefs or background. It represents the efforts of the Baha'i community to effect constructive social change. Its purpose is not to teach the Faith nor convert, rather, as an expression of a deeply held set of beliefs, to engage in indiscriminate service to the world of humanity for the betterment of our collective world.
We measure the effectiveness of our efforts when:
The Foundation is currently undertaking a joint effort with the projects we support to capture their learnings on indicators of sustained development in their specific regions and will provide a full report when this work is complete.
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.)
The administrative cost of Mona Foundation is among the lowest among the non-profits at 15%. We are therefore able to send 85% of all contributions we eceive to the partner 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 extensive 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.