360Plus Foundation students and their families in Afghanistan seek a life free of persecution, oppression, and violence. Donations are MATCHED up to $25,000. Below is a letter from one of those students.
In 2020, the 360Plus Leadership Collective was excited to invite students from Afghanistan to our program for the first time. Once the application opened, we were flooded with wonderful submissions from across the country, with young Afghanis sharing with us their stories and dreams. The ambition for a brighter future was remarkable. We were only able to take three aspirants, but their leadership qualities were quickly apparent. Our three Afghan students: Sima, Sharifa, and Hamid, brought charisma that anchored our 2020 online course focusing on the climate crisis. Their dedication to working internationally on problem-solving was exceptional, even among a group of peers selected for their leadership qualities from twelve different countries.
These students, their families, and the Afghan teachers that have mentored them have stood for the values of gender and ethnic equality, free speech, international cooperation, and peace. Now they face a reality in which standing for those values puts their lives at risk. In order to pursue freedom from violence and oppression, they have been forced to make the heartbreaking decision of seeking a future outside of the country they have always called home.
The 360Plus Foundation stands with our students in their quest for a better future. It will be a long, challenging, and expensive journey. We are not a foundation that focuses on refugee work, nor has our expertise ever been the navigation of asylum processes. However, we cannot turn our back on this situation, and we have already begun to leverage our donors and our robust network of development-focused professionals that volunteer their time. We will have to learn along the way, but we are confident in our supporters and unwavering in our intention to help our students as they seek new beginnings.
As we fundraise and explore unchartered territory for 360Plus Foundation, we will have to maintain flexibility in our plan, perhaps changing priorities and strategies and we learn or as circumstances change. For now, we foresee the following set of priorities depending upon different levels of possible funding success:
Up to $20,000 USD (immediate) (already reached)
We will apply for Humanitarian Parole to the United States for all of our students, their families, and the family of a teacher that has mentored 360Plus students. Their application fees will be covered, and many hours of volunteer work will be done in order to assure their applications are successfully submitted.
We will cover some emergency costs for our students on a case by case basis. Priority will be given to financial needs that pertain to safety and basic needs such as housing, or to costs that present an increased possibility of their successful escape from Afghanistan.
This will help cover some of our basic administrative costs to help position ourselves for further fundraising efforts (such as website development and campaigning).
$20,000 to $40,000 (expensed over the course of 4 months)
Getting our three students, one teacher, and their families enrolled in a refugee acceptance program will remain the number one priority. With more funding, we will increase their chance of acceptance by applying for more programs in various countries, or even by exploring other visa options such as student visas.
An increase in funding may allow us to give money directly to our students if we feel that having more money increases their possibilities for safe and successful travel outside of Afghanistan.
If there are travel and documentation costs, these will be a high priority.
At this level, if there are funds that do not greatly increase the possibility of a successful exit of Afghanistan, or are not for emergency/ safety/ essential needs, they will be kept as savings for the future costs that our students will incur when they successfully relocate to another country.
$40,000 to $80,000 (expensed over the course of 6 months)
We will increase the number of hours 360plus Foundation can focus on this by providing a stipend to a few of our core volunteers. This will allow them to increase the depth of our work and raise more money.
The priority remains that our three students, one teacher, and their families are able to successfully relocate to safety. Until each of them is successfully enrolled in a promising asylum program, we will continue to expand their possibilities by applying for new programs, covering application fees and administrative hours.
We will increase the amount of money saved for future relocation costs for each family based on our balance and predicted cost per family.
We will invest some of the funds into the promotion of the 360Plus Foundation so that we can raise more money, preparing us to sponsor our students as they resettle.
At this level, if other cases are referred to us by our network, we may consider expanding beyond the needs of our students and helping others with the costs of escaping or applying for asylum programs. This will be determined by the 360Plus Foundation core team and advisory board.
$80,000 to $200,000 (expensed over the course of 12 months)
If our students, teachers, and their families have been enrolled in programs that will allow them to resettle in a new country, each case will be allotted the minimum amount of money to be legally and financially sponsored for a year in the new country.
These funds will help cover the administrative costs of supporting their resettlement and seeking enrollment in a credible refugee resettlement program in their new country.
At this point, 360Plus Foundation will need more than the core volunteer team (with stipends), and we will contract with expert(s) in refugee resettlement. This extra professional support will either serve as a vigorous push in the event that some of our people have not made it out of Afghanistan or as a necessary addition of expertise in navigating the resettlement process. If at this level, resettlement is able to be prioritized (because safety and exit have been achieved), we will consider geographical expertise depending on where they have been invited to resettlement.
At this level, our efforts must be staffed full-time with one or two employees, part-timers with stipends, and consultants. This will assure that we are meeting our original intention of helping these young people be safely resettled in the hopes of returning them back on the path towards becoming impactful global leaders.
If the safety and exit needs are met, each family will be fully financially sponsored for their first year in resettlement.
360Plus may also consider expanding the network of families or students it is helping, including distant family members of the students, NGO workers, past applicants to the 360Plus Leadership Collective, or Afghan students at higher institutions in Central Asia and elsewhere suddenly finding themselves practically stateless.
Students may request the use of funds for professional and educational development in their new countries, such as support for enrollment in school or extracurricular activities. 360Plus will consider such requests based on the criteria that we have developed to determine if the money is being used to help support their growth towards leadership in a way that has a positive impact on the world.
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