Who We Are

Timeline: Highlights

1915: Cleveland H. Dodge leads the creation of the American Committee for Armenian and Syrian Relief (ACASR) after Henry Morgenthau, American Ambassador to the Ottoman Empire, sent a plea to help Armenians, Greeks and other minorities in the Near East who were forced from their homes following violent upheavals in the Ottoman Empire at the outbreak of World War I. 

1919: ACASR officially becomes the Near East Relief after an act of Congress.

1915-1930: Near East Relief raised $110 million to help refugees from the Ottoman Empire. This is equivalent to $1.25 billion today. Nearly one thousand men and women served overseas from 1915 to 1930. Thousands more volunteered throughout the country. Near East Relief efforts led to the building of scores of orphanages, vocational schools and food distributions centers and saved the lives of over a million Armenian, Greek and Syrian refugees, including 132,000 orphans.

1930: NER shifts its focus from humanitarian relief to development and becomes the Near East Foundation.

1946: The government of Iran invites NEF to create a rural improvement program based on its successful model in Greece. The program runs until 1979.

1950: President Truman creates the Point Four Program and cites NEF as a model. The United Nations Development Program, the United Nations Relief and Works Agency, and several other newly formed international assistance agencies acknowledge a debt to NEF as they embarked on development programs. 

1964: In partnership with the recently created United States Agency for International Development (USAID), NEF begins to work in Africa–providing agricultural specialists for technical assistance projects. 

1970s: NEF becomes a granting agency to international development agencies such as the International Center for Research in Desert Agriculture in Syria and the Desert Development Center in Cairo, Egypt. Technical assistance to USAID continues. 

1980s: NEF begins to implement programs once again under its own name and expands to fifteen countries on an annual budget of $7 million. For most of the eighties, NEF’s program consists of three parts: standard technical assistance, grant giving to agricultural research centers, and rural/community level projects developed and managed by NEF specialists in cooperation with local organizations.

1990s: The Center for Development Services in Cairo, Egypt, is established in 1990. Through CDS, NEF mobilizes local technical experts to provide training and technical assistance throughout the Middle East. NEF’s work is organized through country program offices in Egypt, Jordan, Lesotho, Mali, Morocco, the occupied Palestinian Territories, Sudan, and Swaziland.

2004: NEF returns to work in Armenia after being forced out in 1927 by the Soviet Union.

2010: NEF headquarters makes a historic move to the campus of Syracuse University after NEF enters into a groundbreaking strategic affiliation with the University.


In donating to the Near East Foundation, you support education, enterprise, and community empowerment in some of the Middle East and North Africa's most impoverished areas.

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