The PARSA Community Foundation

A few weeks ago, I found the PARSA Community Foundation’s website as I was scoping out the Iranian non-profit world online. Intrigued by the big names that started the foundation, and by its even bigger goals, I emailed them for more information and was pleasantly surprised when a Pars Arts contributor, Mariam Hosseini, responded. Mariam recently wrote the Pars Arts story Adventures in Online Iranian Food Shopping, and she answered my questions for this piece.

What is PARSA’s mission?
PARSA Community Foundation’s mission is to become the leading institution practicing strategic philanthropy and promoting social entrepreneurship towards a strong global Persian presence. PARSA invests in these common causes:
Preservation and advancement of Iranian arts and culture;
Development of leaders through education and awards systems; and
Encouragement of civic participation and non-profit capacity building.

Who’s behind PARSA? Why did they start the organization?
Inspired by the work of passionate social entrepreneurs and the impact of strategic philanthropy, The H.A.N.D. Foundation organized a summit in Fall 2005 and invited generous members of the Persian community to share their philanthropic experiences and brainstorm on how successful efforts of the community could be taken to the next level. The participants, facing similar opportunities and constraints, and believing that the social impact of collaborative work can be just as important as producing the public good itself, agreed to pool their resources to create a platform to facilitate large-scale philanthropy for Persians worldwide. This infrastructure would enable the free flow of information, training and funds necessary to address the needs of the community. To create an enduring institution, the founders committed to hands-on involvement, professional management and the establishment of an endowment fund.

PARSA’s board consists of the following members:
Anousheh Ansari: Treasurer, PARSA Community Foundation; Co-founder and Chairman, Prodea Systems, Inc.

Noosheen Hashemi: Chairman, PARSA Community Foundation; Co-founder and President, The H.A.N.D. Foundation

Salar Kamangar: Secretary, PARSA Community Foundation; Vice President, Product Management, Google, Inc.

Omid Kordestani: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; Senior Vice President, Global Sales and Business Development, Google, Inc.

Hamid Moghadam: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; Chairman and CEO, AMB Property Corporation

Camran Nezhat: Co-Founder, PARSA Community Foundation; M.D., F.A.C.O.G., F.A.C.S., Stanford University Medical Center

You can read more about the board here: http://parsacf.org/about/board.

What are some beneficiary projects of PARSA’s efforts? What kinds of organizations or projects should know about PARSA’s work?
In 2006, PARSA made its inaugural grant of up to $210,000 to Ashoka: Innovators for the Public as part of the Ashoka PARSA Initiative to support an Ashoka fellow of Iranian origin from anywhere in the world where Ashoka operates.

Currently, we are processing grant applications from our first grant cycle, which just ended on February 15, and are excited to be announcing grantees around the Norouz timeframe. In addition to our semi-annual grant cycles where we encourage non-profits that fit our guiding principles to apply, PARSA also supports strategic grantmaking in projects such as the Cyrus Cylinder North American Tour, initiating a census campaign, and supporting voter registration. PARSA also reaches out to Persian diaspora philanthropy through its philanthropy workshops and planned NGO summits, aimed at promoting networking and collaboration among nonprofits.

How can young Iranians, like Pars Arts readers, get involved either as volunteers or as young philanthropists?
There are many ways for young Iranians to get involved, such as: Hosting a philanthropy work shop at your home, school, or any other appropriate place; facilitating a philanthropy workshop; writing articles for our newsletter; and volunteering pro bono professional services such as legal, financial, accounting services to support NGOs that don’t have the resources to purchase them.

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