Many young Lebanese have been severely affected by the economic crisis in which the country has been mired since 2019, leaving them unable to pursue their university studies. It is often in the middle of their education journey that financial circumstances force them to drop out.
To support these disadvantaged students and prevent them from giving up on their studies, and because universities also need help to support students, Impact Lebanon Charity (ILC) in June launched its first fundraising initiative for higher education in Lebanon, called Jeel Fund [Jeel is Arabic for generation].
From the start of the academic year in October 2023, the NGO — founded in November 2020 in London by Lebanese expatriates and recognized by the British Charity Commission — will cover the tuition fees of hundreds of Lebanese students enrolled in the three top private universities in Lebanon: Saint-Joseph University (USJ), the American University of Beirut (AUB) and the Lebanese American University (LAU).
The beneficiaries, selected directly by their respective universities, will have to meet certain criteria, such as being in need of financial aid, having eligible grades and demonstrating civic commitment or leadership.
Improving families’ quality of life
ILC’s objective goes beyond these three institutions. In the long term, the NGO intends to offer scholarships to 300 beneficiaries, support school and vocational education, develop the skills of Lebanon-based young people who can be paid in foreign currency, and subsequently enable families to build a better future, by financing high-employability fields such as computer coding and design.
In this vein, the NGO appealed to Lebanese expatriates for donations, calling on them to pledge to regularly finance higher education of Lebanese students.
“We collect donations by various means, including fundraising door-to-door, on the internet and lobbying companies,” Gerard Zouein, a director with the NGO, told L’Orient-Le Jour via video call.
“In order to ensure Jeel Fund’s sustainability, we plan to use half of these funds in the provision of direct support to students, and the other half in an investment fund [the benefits of which will be used] to finance aid,” he added.
“This is common practice in the United States. It ensures the aid’s sustainability and independence. Thus, students can be supported throughout their studies,” added Zouein.
It took a group of Lebanese expats, assisted by a network of experts on finance, banking, investment, justice, marketing, public relations and other sectors, two years to update their support model for education in Lebanon.
“The fact that the NGO is recognized by the British Charity Commission is a sign of confidence, as the status is very demanding,” said Layal Nabhan, a specialist focusing on the financial institutions’ sustainable development and a member of the NGO’s fundraising team.
This group of ILC founders and volunteers includes Dania al-Kadi, Farid Habib, Lemy Gresh, Hanaa Gemayel Jabbour, Georges al-Khoury, Maya Hodroj, Sahar Soueid, Moustapha Hammoud and Tatiana Mecattaf, and our two interviewees.
A good part of this group are members of the Impact Lebanon initiative, which L’Orient-Le Jour joined. The initiative raised $9 million dollars following the Beirut port explosion, which was distributed to associations in Lebanon, including Arcenciel, the Lebanese Red Cross and Offre-Joie.
For more information, please visit https://impactlebanoncharity.org
This article was originally published in French in L’Orient-Le Jour. Translation by Joelle El Khoury.