2019 Impact Report

Jul 9, 2020


Download the full 2019 Impact Report

Since 1915, NEF has worked to build more sustainable, prosperous, and inclusive communities through education, community organizing, and economic development initiatives.

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 A Message from our President

Each year, I look forward to the opportunity to reflect on the past year and take stock of the progress the Near East Foundation has made with the support of our partners and donors. While challenges undoubtedly persist as conflict, displacement, inequity, and climate shocks continue to shape the communities where we work, so too do perseverance, progress, and community-led action. Even when turmoil and civil strife strike, as it did in the past year, NEF’s commitment to community ownership and local capacity makes it possible to quickly adapt and respond. I am proud to report that NEF’s impact in 2019 once again affirmed that tailored, locally supported action translates into meaningful change for vulnerable communities and results in tangible solutions to persistent development challenges.

NEF shooting by Création 9

This past year in Mali and Senegal, NEF worked with local authorities to strengthen climate finance systems and to fund community-prioritized investments that improve the resilience of natural resource-dependent communities. In Jordan and Lebanon, we continued to help people earn an income safely through our community-based livelihood support hubs (Siraj Centers). We have now broadened these services to offer access to finance and advanced business development training to support business growth and sustainability. We expanded our network of Siraj Centers to Syria and Iraq to accelerate community-led economic and agricultural recovery, helping people who were displaced from their homes by conflict to find ways to sustainably rebuild. And in Palestine, NEF facilitated collaboration between a private Israeli irrigation company, local financial institutions, and Palestinian farming cooperatives to improve irrigation technology, crop yields, and incomes for farmers. 

Our greatest assets continue to be our local staff and partners, whose deep understanding of their communities allows NEF to deliver responsive and effective programs that combat the root causes of poverty and support upward mobility for those who need it most. While the frequency and scale of humanitarian crises are daunting, I remain confident in the potential to achieve lasting impact. I am uplifted by the resolve, determination, and ingenuity of our team, partners, and the individuals we serve. I hope you too find promise in these pages for what our collective action can achieve. 

I am deeply grateful for your support. It makes all of the impact reflected in this report possible. Thank you for your continued commitment to building a more equitable and prosperous world.

With sincere gratitude,

Charles Benjamin

Where We Work 

NEF Global Map v6_Digital

Our Approach

NEF approach-01





2019 Milestones

1,460,000 people

directly benefited across nine countries 

NEF Iraq

established to support post-conflict economic recovery


2 pilots 

launched to strengthen NEF business support services 


2 new offices 

opened in Washington DC and Brussels, Belgium

 noun_Four-star rank_537692

4-star rating 

from Charity Navigator for the fifth consecutive year


Commitment to climate resilience 

made at the 2019 UN Secretary-General meeting

Inclusive Economic Development

In partnership with local community associations, we promote economic independence and social resilience through entrepreneurship, access to finance, and peer networks. Understanding that transformative, systemic change requires investments at the individual, community, and institutional levels, we focus on building the capacity of individual entrepreneurs and their communities. Our programs prioritize underserved and hard-to-reach entrepreneurs and build the local capacity of institutions to be more inclusive of these populations.





people with increased income through business expansion


people trained in financial literacy and business management



youth gained life skills and positive coping strategies


In Arabic, siraj means “lamp” or “light”. NEF’s Siraj Centers are community-based livelihood support hubs that help vulnerable people safely find employment, start businesses, and improve their incomes. Through tailored training, access to resources, peer networking, and market access facilitation, Siraj Centers help people gain transferable skills, create sustainable livelihoods, improve economic resilience, and provide a sense of community to cope with the challenges they face. Siraj Centers provide a beacon of hope, lighting the way forward.

Siraj Centers are community-run. They share standardized training curricula, educational materials, operating procedures, and quality standards. NEF’s micro-franchise model for these hubs helps ensure high-quality programming to support economic recovery that is tailored to each community’s needs. The NEF Siraj Center network currently includes 15 centers in underserved communities in Lebanon, Jordan, Syria, and Iraq.


8,200 vulnerable entrepreneurs have received support services from Siraj Center staff in Lebanon and Jordan since 2015.


Climate Resilient Development

Working hand-in-hand with local communities, we help smallholder farmers and other natural resource-dependent groups protect their livelihoods, maintain their food security, and adapt their incomes in the face of climate shocks and stresses. We work to build local capacities that ensure communities have tools and resources to invest in climate-resilient strategies, to sustainably and peacefully manage shared agricultural and natural resources, and to adapt and diversify resource-dependent livelihoods.



individuals with improved food security



infrastructure repairs and upgrades



community-led climate investments



partner organizations with built capacity



International sources of funding to combat climate change are increasingly available, but how does this money reach those on the frontlines of the climate crisis? Often, funds are channeled to multilateral actors, centralized national authorities or to non-governmental organizations rather than the local governments that hold primary authority over natural resource management and adaptation. Decentralized climate funds, however, use existing governance systems to make funds available to local communities, activating local planning committees to identify and prioritize investments in consultation with community stakeholders.

Through the DFID-funded BRACED program, NEF and its partners worked with communities and governments to pilot decentralized climate funds in Mali and Senegal. Working within existing governance frameworks, the project built local capacities to manage climate adaptation funds and to invest in locally prioritized resilience projects in a transparent and accountable manner.

In 2019, we joined the Global Resilience Partnership, a consortium of public and private organizations working towards a resilient, sustainable, and prosperous future for vulnerable people and places.


Peacebuilding and Stability

We are building and enhancing economic relationships across lines of division to help promote stability through improved trust and cooperation. We promote sustainable economic development in conflict and post-conflict areas alongside conflict prevention and management training to mitigate the drivers of fragility. We further support the integration of disenfranchised populations, including young people in peri-urban slums, people internally displaced by conflict, and refugees.



individuals participated in cross-border training and activities




cross-border infrastructure repairs and upgrades made



businesses launched or expanded in the West Bank



Cross-border economic cooperation offers a structured, depoliticized process for building trust, understanding, and capacity for collective action in pursuit of shared interests. Working with groups in conflict to foster an environment conducive to exchange, cooperation, and mutually beneficial partnerships lays the groundwork for improved collaboration, conflict management, and economic prosperity for individuals and communities. This takes different forms depending on the root causes and consequences of conflict.

The olive sector in Israel and Palestine, for instance, offers a unique opportunity to cultivate peace given its deeply rooted cultural significance and economic potential. This was the driving force behind NEF’s groundbreaking USAID-funded Olive Oil Without Borders program from 2011 to 2019, which facilitated productive partnerships between Israelis and Palestinians in the olive sector and led to the first-ever joint policy commission — allowing for the export of 4,500 metric tons of Palestinian olive oil to Israel and generating $30 million USD in new income.

Syrian food processors are using improved techniques to dramatically increase their incomes, with NEF’s support.


Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene

Through cross-sector partnerships, we build the capacity of local organizations to improve access to clean sources of water, adequate sanitation, and good hygiene for highly vulnerable individuals. Our approach combines water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programming with civic engagement and private sector development to minimize the risk of disease and enable conflict-affected populations to improve their well-being in a safe and dignified way.


people with improved access to potable water



water infrastructure repairs and upgrades

 noun_wash hands_3090061-2  


hygiene and sanitation kits distributed 



partner organizations with built capacity



Market-based WASH introduces a livelihoods approach to water, sanitation and hygiene through skills building and income generation. For NEF, mainstreaming this emerging development approach includes developing and promoting collaborative or individual WASH entrepreneurship activities; coordinating and investing in market-based WASH interventions through private-public partnerships; and developing the capacity of local civil society organizations to lead, catalyze, and sustain local WASH programs. In 2019, we piloted market-based WASH programming in conflict-affected
communities in Sudan and Lebanon and published a learning paper detailing the challenges and results.


More than 254,000 people have benefitted from NEF’s WASH work in Sudan.



A Trusted Steward of your Philanthropy for over 100 Years


Cost-Effective Programs 

NEF delivers high-impact programs while keeping overhead costs low, making the most of your donation. This year, 95% of donations went directly to our programs.  


Charity Navigator

For the fifth consecutive year, NEF earned the highest possible rating from America’s largest independent charity evaluator. Only 13% of charities achieve this top rating.


Global Giving

NEF is consistently recognized as a vetted member of the Global Giving community for being a trusted partner and global change-maker. 


Better Business Bureau

NEF is an accredited member of the Better Business Bureau, meeting the highest standards for ethics and accountability to ensure confident charitable giving.  




Financial Summary

Near East Foundation is committed to providing the highest levels of transparency and efficiency.

Statement of Financial Position as of June 30, 2019


2018 Revenue
2017 Revenue


2019 Expenses
2018 Expenses
2017 Expenses



88% Government 5% Foundations 4% Individuals 3% Other



95% Program Services 4% Management and General 1% Fundraising


BEGINNING $6,168,926
ENDING $6,754,351


View the full NEF Audited Financial Statement, Fiscal Year 2018-2019


NEF Board of Directors


  • Haig Mardikian, Chair
  • Johnson Garrett, Vice Chair/Secretary
  • Charles Bird, Treasurer
  • Charles Benjamin, Ph.D., President
  • Carol B. Aslanian
  • Myrna A. Barakat
  • Nina Bogosian Quigley
  • Randa El-Sayed Haffar
  • Mona Eraiba
  • Rana Gillmon
  • Elias Habayeb
  • Jeff Habib
  • Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.
  • Osamah Khahlil
  • Shant Mardirossian
  • Robert J. Solomon


  • Anthony R. Williams, Chair
  • Robert Brown
  • Johnson Garrett
  • Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D.
  • Linda Layne, Ph.D.
  • Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D.


  • Linda K. Jacobs, Ph.D., Chair
  • Robert Brown, Ph.D.
  • Johnson Garrett
  • Amr Nosseir
  • Anthony G. Williams, Ph.D.


  • John Kerr, Ph.D.
  • John McPeak, Ph.D.
  • Thomas Mullins
  • Juliet Sorensen, J.D.
  • Michaela Walsh


  • Shahnaz Batmanghelidj
  • Amir Farman-Farma
  • John Goelet
  • John Grammer
  • Ronald Miller
  • Anthony Williams
  • Tarek Younes


  • H.E. Andre Azoulay
  • Ian Bremmer
  • Ambassador Edward P. Djerejian
  • Vartan Gregorian, Ph.D.
  • Ambassador Richard W. Murphy
  • Her Majesty Queen Noor of Jordan
  • James B. Steinberg
  • Ambassador Frank G. Wisner

Funding Partners

  • Asfari Foundation
  • Armenian Genearl Benevolent Union
  • Bogosian Quigley Foundation
  • City and Guilds Group
  • Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation
  • Comic Relief
  • Elmer and Mamdouha Bobst Foundation
  • European Union
  • Flora Family Foundation
  • Global Affairs Canada
  • Global Giving
  • Government of the Netherlands
  • International Organization for Migration
  • The Elsa and Peter Soderberg Charitable Foundation
  • The Fulgraff Foundation
  • UK Department for International Development
  • UN Population Fund
  • The U.S.-Middle East Partnership Initiative
  • U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
  • USAID Office of Food for Peace
  • USAID Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance
  • U.S. Department of State Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration
  • Vitol Foundation
  • World Food Programme

Implementing Partners

  • Abna Al-Sudan Development Organization
  • Al-Farooq Charitable Society for Orphans
  • Al Hadatha Association
  • Arcenciel
  • Azraq Women Productive Cooperative Association
  • Cluster Menara
  • CowaterSogema International Inc.
  • Emerging Business Factory
  • Friends of Peace and Development Organization
  • International Development and Peace Organization
  • International Institute for Environment and Development
  • Innovation, Environnement, Developpement Afrique
  • Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development
  • Maison des Associations (Safi)
  • Majales Alkhair for Peace and Development Organization
  • Marrakech Generations
  • Middle East Investment Initiative
  • Netafim
  • Org. for Voluntary Humanitarian Assistance Program
  • Palestinian Center for Agriculture Research and Development
  • Qawafel Al Khair
  • Sahab Society for Social Development
  • Sanabel El Nour
  • Sudanese Red Crescent Society
  • Syracuse University
  • UNICEF Water, Environment, and Sanitation Programme
  • Women’s Development Resource Centre Foundation
  • Youth Society for Self-Development

A community of generous donors makes our work possible. We are grateful for every donation we receive and we hope that you will continue to support NEF long into the future.

Thank You to Our Donors

$50,000 and above

Linda K. Jacobs

Mrs. Nina Bogosian Quigley and Mr. Matthew Quigley


Charles J. Bird and Tracy L. Bird

Cleveland H. Dodge Foundation

Mona Araiba

Flora Family Foundation

Rana Gillmon

Naseem and Randa Haffar

Jeff and Jessica Lowrey

Bryan N. Ison and JoEllen Ison

Haig Mardikian and Connie Mardikian

Shant Mardirossian and Christine Mardirossian

Robert J. Solomon and Nancy Solomon


Carol B. Aslanian

Johnson Garrett and Jennifer Garrett

Wesley Hayden and Susan Hayden

Dee Robarts


Anita Anserian

John Ashby and Christine Ashby

Ara Bagdasarian

Pauline Barooshian and Armen Barooshian

Raphael Barsamian

Shahnaz Batmanghelidj

Karen Bedrosian-Richardson

Charles E. Benjamin and Jennifer Abdella

Peter Currie and Elizabeth Currie

Sona I. Degann

Melissa Dodge and Mark Rutherford


Cornelia Dodge

Stephen Ferrari

Herbert Floyd and Claire Floyd

Vartan Gregorian

Raffi Hovanessian and Vicki Hovanessian

Souren A. Israelyan

John M. Kerr and Kimberly Rae Chung

Ann Zwicker Kerr

David Kohler
Richard C. Boyajian Lacy and

Barbara Boyajian Lacy

Dennis Leuer and Laura Leuer

Richard and Leora Linhart

Peter Maeck and Jessie Maeck

Hratch Manoukian and Arshalous S. Manoukian

Michael and Agnese Meehan

Stephen Mekenian and Lily Mekenian

Ronald Miller and Susan Miller

Andrew Milstein and Melissa Hyman

Karim Mostafa

Phillip Newmark and Sonia Newmark

Susan Penn

Holly Pittman and Gary Hatfield

Samuel S. Rea

Alexander R. Robarts and Miran Yoon-Robarts

Frances K. Ross

Joan Rothermel

David Russell

Sarah Selverian

Jeanette Wagner

Eric Widmer and Meera Viswanathan

The Honorable Frank G. Wisner

Up to $499

Constantinos Agouridis

Deana Arsenian and Mark Malkasian

Natalie Allen

Kim Anthony

Edward Aslanian and Eleonore Aslanian

Gennaro Avolio and Marilyn Avolio

Sara Helen Ayanian

Arthur Aznavorian and Susan Aznavorian

Susan P. Bachelder

Anny P. Bakalian

Emily Bass

Nurhan Becidyan

 Mary Benjamin

Corolina Berg

Lucy Berkowitz

James Bjork

Lezlie Blaski

Stephen Bogosian

Matt Bonham

Mehrzad Boroujerdi and Maryam Khodaei

Sebastian Bozlee

Lefty Lou , Frank, and Woody Bramble-Duffy

Michael Brody

George Browning and Catherine Browning

Marilyn Brunger

Joanna and Mike Buboltz

Lucy Bucknell

Jeremy Butler

Bruce Butler

Michelle Carlin

Julie Carlin

Stefano Giannini and Ms. Simona Ceci

Will Chilcutt

Allison Coburn

Tim Coburn

Michael Collins

Jeff Congdon and Mrs. Kathy Congdon

Mary Ellen Connell

Kevin Connelly

Jonathan Cosby and Ms. Kathleen Gwynn

Stephen Craxton

Richard Crowley and Barbara Crowley

Andrea Crowley and Brian Crowley

Sarah B. Cutler

Christopher Danowski

Ken Darian

Douglas Davis

Peter DiCola

David Dorian

Heratch O. Doumanian

AnneMarie Doyle

Anthony Draye

Kate Elsaharty

Richard Fancher

Keith M. Ferguson and Mrs. Margaret S. Ferguson

Carol Foley

John B. Fox, Jr. and Julia G. Fox

Donna A. Friedman

Carmen Gaddini

Stephanie Gamble

Rita R. Gehrenbeck and Nancy M. Gehrenbeck-Miller

Alison A. Geist

Hampartsum and Mrs. Marie Ghazarossian

Ahimsa Govender

John Gram

Susan Green

Sallie L. Greenfield

Seth Greenky

Collin Gulczynski

Patricia Guy

Mazen Haddad

Andrea Healy

Elisabeth Heradstveit

Paige Herrling

Eric Hicks

Pamela Hilliar

Charles Hinkaty and Mrs. Kathleen Hinkaty

Richard Holt

Michael Humphrey

Kerry A. Ikone

Tim Izant and Mrs. Lisa Izant

Bob Johns

Diana Jones

Stephen Judge

Velma Kahn

Lynne A. Kassabian

Dicran Kassouny

Adrine Katchadurian

Richard Kazanjian

Catherine Keating

Diane Kelesh

Terri Koehler

Prof. Louis Kriesberg

Melissa Kuberka


Joseph Kunes

Carmen Garcia and Carmen E. Lanz-Garcia

Sandra S. Leitner

Robert Maksudian

Stephen Malott and Leslie Malott

Gregory Mamassian and Annette Mamassian

hil Martello

Harry Mazadoorian and Janice Mazadoorian

Merze Mazmanian

Dikran Meguerditchian

Barbara Merguerian

Eric and Mary Miller

Keith Miller and Ashley Miller

Brian and Nuria Miller

Anoush Miridjanian

Tania Mittleider

William J. Mostler

Kimberley Murray

Christine Nagorski

Mark Nappi

Sarkis Nercessian and Adriana Nercessian

Jennifer Nersesian

Michael Nevius

Alexandra M. Nichols

Rosalind Ocampo

Nada Odeh

Bedros Ohanian

Alex Olbrych

Arsine Oshagan and Vahe Oshagan

Dennis Papazian and Mary Papazian

Victor Peters and Pearlmarie Peters

Don Pike

Lillian M. Pillay

Cindi Porter

Pamela Pratt

Mark Procopio

Emily Rosenberg

Judy and Robert Rudolph
Robert C. Ruth and Linda Ruth

Margaret Salvage

Richard Sarajian and Nora Sarajian

Varsenne Sarkissian

Michael Schneider

Victoria Selian

Aram Serverian and Hasma Serverian

Armen Shahinian and Brenda Shahinian

Kristin Sheehan and Brendan Sheehan

Ana Silfer

M.K. Smith

Rita Soovajian

Juliet Sorensen and Benjamin Jones

Blake Stilwell

Harold Takooshian

David Tookmanian and Ascensina Tookmanian

Kevork S. Toroyan and Pamela Toroyan

Judy M. Torrison

Stacia VanDyne

Kune Vanommeslaeghe

Quinn Warner

Mark Weatherup, Jr.

Robin Weil

Tammy Weinman

Roger Whitaker and Susan Whitaker

Doris T. White

Ryan Williams

Kenneth S. Winer

Jessica Woodruff

Jim Wright

Janice Wyrick

Hrag Yacoubian

Anjel Yessayan

Migirdic Yigitkurt and Susan Yigitkurt

Helene Zindarsian



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Syracuse, NY 13202
United States

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London SE1 0EH
United Kingdom

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Brussels-Forest, 1190


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