The primary mission of the AJA Foundation (AJAF) is to support organizations that help disadvantaged or at-risk people overcome their circumstances and change the course of their lives.
Breaking out of the cycle of poverty requires access to fundamental resources, which unfortunately are not always provided by governments. Access to education is arguably one of the most important factors (if not the most important) in changing the trajectory of a child’s life. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development reported that “people who are neither in employment nor in education or training are at risk of becoming socially excluded – individuals with income below the poverty-line and lacking the skills to improve their economic situation.” Education is a strong indicator of future earning capacity and thus quality of life. The democratization of education is so critical that it is one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals to be met by 2030. This is why the nonprofit sector is so important—because there is no way possible that governments can do this on their own.
Music lessons at Pianos for People
Three Angels Christian Academy graduate
During the past year, I’ve been getting to know the grantees that Andy has been supporting since the inception of his charitable fund in 2006, and I have been introduced to a few new ones as well. I’ve learned a lot about nonprofit organizations that are focused on helping children advance to higher education through mentoring, education, and scholarships, and much of their work is very impressive. Don’t get me wrong — I think all of the work done by the full gamut of nonprofits we support is important and impactful, but there is something thrilling about watching these kids transform the trajectory of their lives after working with these very special nonprofits.
More than a quarter of our funding has been invested (yes, we see education as an investment) in our education program category, which includes mentoring programs as well as scholarships. So far, I haven’t found two programs that are exactly alike, but what they all have in common is a passion for helping disadvantaged youth improve their lives so that they can go on to contribute at the highest levels to society and live their best lives. Some organizations do it through sports, while others connect with kids through the arts or nutrition. There are so many creative programs with amazing teams of people connecting with children to provide mentorship, guidance, love, and a clear picture of an attainable future.
I am very proud of completing the first grantmaking cycle in my new role as executive director of the AJAF and I am gratified that our board funded grants to Trident Swim Foundation, Mr. Holland’s Opus Foundation, Pianos for People, Hopkins Pathfinder Program, and Three Angels Haiti. I look forward to providing updates on how our gifts are impacting these beautiful children, all of whom deserve a fair shake at a future that is full of possibilities.