Mayyada Abu-Jaber, Shahinaz Ahmed Reda, Nawfal Fassi-Fihri and Mohammad Naja, the chief executives and representative of EFE foundations in Jordan, Egypt, Morocco and Gaza/West Bank, led an exceptional roundtable on the challenge of youth unemployment in the Middle East hosted by the Carnegie Corporation of New York on September 10, 2007.
The talk, which highlighted the crucial role of education and jobs in promoting regional peace and security, was the first opportunity for members of the Foundation Working Group on Islam – composed of U.S. foundations making grants related to the Islamic world – to hear from organizations working on the ground in Muslim countries.
Over forty participants attended this event, including foundation officers, private sector representatives, diplomats, philanthropists and others. Among them were representatives of Carnegie Corporation, Rockefeller Brothers Fund, the Albert Kunstadter Family Foundation, the H.F. Guggenheim Foundation, The Synergos Institute, Consolidated Contractors International Co. (CCC) and the Olayan Group, along with the Consul General of Sweden, the Consul General of Egypt, and others.
Mayyada, Shahinaz, Nawfal and Mohammad described the two-pronged challenge of underemployment in their countries: young people, ill-prepared for the workplace by educational institutions, are increasingly frustrated by their inability to find jobs; local businesses are paradoxically unable to expand and compete in the global economy due to a lack of skilled labor. They explained how EFE's innovative model of career training is tackling these problems through public-private sector partnerships that train and place unemployed youth in jobs.
In a dynamic and extended question and answer period, participants discussed how to create sustainable models for philanthropy in the area of youth employment. These included: attracting private sector partners by appealing to the growth potential for their businesses, rather than pure social responsibility; promoting philanthropy that bridges the U.S. and Muslim worlds; and encouraging local educational systems to create more practical curricula that lead to jobs.
The Carnegie Corporation was created by Andrew Carnegie in 1911 to promote “the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” For over 95 years the Corporation has carried out Carnegie's vision of philanthropy by building on his two major concerns: international peace and advancing education and knowledge. For further information on the Carnegie Corporation, see www.carnegie.org.