‘Our Vision for Grassroots Development’ Interview with Hani Masri, President Tomorrow’s Youth Organization
GTF: What is the vision behind TYO?
Hani Masri: TYO is making a strategic investment in the region’s next generation by providing a modern, holistic, and forward-thinking approach to cognitive and emotional development. Our vision is to provide a model for our beneficiaries, stakeholders, and partners that reflect our cost-effective, efficient, and business-minded strategy when it comes to grassroots development. We know that every dollar invested in quality early childhood programs can yield a ten percent return on investment reflected in better education, economic, social, and health outcomes.
GTF: Tell us more about the journey?
HM: The journey started several years ago. I spent a considerable amount of time working in the political realm and realized very quickly that what was needed – critically- was a functional approach on the ground to meet the country’s most pressing needs.
GTF: What challenges have you come across and what successes can you tell us about?
HM: When we first started over five years ago we didn’t know what to expect. We were the first American organization to set up in the north of Palestine, and at the time, Nablus was emerging from a devastating economic and political situation. We went to the refugee camps and the poorer areas of the city; we listened to what the community needed and we reacted accordingly. Five years later, I can say that we have an amazing multi-cultural staff and we are providing the community with the tools they need to become active and healthy member of society.
GTF: What are the plans now for TYO, what new goals have you set?
HM: After solidifying our groundbreaking work in early childhood education and women’s empowerment, we started TYO-Lebanon two years ago with support form our partners the Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and more recently JP Morgan. In 2014, we are looking to expand in Jordan, have a new social enterprise in the form of a boutique hotel in the Old City of Nablus, and a new partnership with the Arab Bank and Colombia University, which will strengthen our educational programs and also target the challenge of youth employability.
GTF: Anything else you would like to mention?
HM: The mission of the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) is to inspire, connect, and empower a community of global leaders to forge solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges. TYO is proud to have participated in the annual meeting for the past several years and is excited to continue its advocacy of youth and women in the Middle East at this prestigious gathering in the future. TYO’s work could not be possible without our illustrious partners especially The Arab Bank, Paltel Group Foundation and the Mohammad S. Farsi Foundation.
A long time advocate for Middle East peace and children’s issues, Mr. Masri founded Tomorrow’s Youth Organization. This non-profit organization provides programs in Technology (IT), Arts, Sports and Health for impoverished children aged 4-8, as well as social and economic development programs for women. TYO is a point of light for under-privileged children and communities in the Middle East. It represents the best aspects of the American people and international goodwill, contributing, managing, and operating essential services and activities for all members of communities afflicted by conflict, isolation, and poverty. TYO is an influence for personal and community development throughout the region. Working in cooperation with the highest quality institutions and organizations, TYO aspires to break ground in non-formal early childhood education and women’s empowerment. TYO pursues this objective through innovative programming as well monitoring and research activities to measure impact in communities where it works. The Nablus flagship opened in March 2008 and additional centers are planned for Egypt, Lebanon and Gaza. In 2009, he co-founded Palestine Note, a blog dedicated to fostering dialogue about all issues related to the Middle East. Mr. Masri is also a board member of the Peres Center in Tel Aviv, a non-partisan organization founded by Shimon Peres in 1997 and dedicated to the promotion of peace in the Middle East. He serves on the Board of Seeds of Peace, a non-profit, non-political organization that helps teenagers from regions of conflict learn the skills of “making peace”. Born in Nablus, Palestine and an American citizen since 1987, Mr. Masri served in the diplomatic service of Jordan as Director of its Foreign Ministry’s United Nations Department and as consul at the Jordanian Embassy in Washington, DC. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Florida in Gainesville, Florida and his graduate degree from the University of Colorado at Boulder. Mr. Hani Masri is Chairman of Capital Investment Management Inc. based in McLean, Virginia and specializing in fund and investment real estate management in the U.S. He also serves as President of M2 Investors Inc. also based in McLean, specializing in private equity fund investments and international consulting throughout the Middle East and Europe, and is President of Capital Corporation specializing in management consulting. He currently resides in Washington, DC.