Our Purpose & Vision
Our purpose is to invest in Iraq's most valuable resource: its people.
We are a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, founded and operated by a group of Iraqi-American volunteers and their friends. Our goal is to offer opportunities that will help educate the youth of Iraq so that they have the skills to contribute to the reconstruction of their homeland. To accomplish this goal, we have established the Rally for Iraq Scholarship Endowment that funds higher-level educational opportunities for Iraqis to study in U.S. colleges, graduate schools, and recertification programs. We envision RFI Scholars returning to Iraq to help in the restoration and development of their country using their educational and cultural experiences abroad.
Iraq, once seen as a model of education in the Arab world, boasted some of the region's highest literacy rates. However, as a result of two decades of wars, economic sanctions, and political instability, Iraq's educational system has suffered dramatically. Promoting an educated population is imperative to Iraq's future success and the stability of the Middle East. American institutions of higher education have much to offer to and much to gain from this type of educational exchange.
Applicants are chosen first and foremost based on their demonstration of financial need. Other criteria we will closely consider in the student applications include: prior scholastic performance, demonstrations of leadership, and future plans. Scholarship recipients shall use the scholarship funds to pay for tuition, application fees, books, and living expenses. RFI team members and allies will also serve as a support network of mentors for Iraqi students upon arrival to facilitate their transition. Upon graduation, students will serve as ambassadors for the scholarship program as well as ambassadors in a cross-cultural dialogue. To learn more, please explore our Scholarships and Grants page.
Rally for Iraq, Inc., was founded by three Iraqi-American recent college graduates -- Tamara Jafar, Hussein Al Baya, and Zahraa Zalzala. Their goal was to offer a grass-roots opportunity for people concerned with the humanitarian hardships facing Iraqis to contribute to the education and development of Iraq's youth. In its early stages, RFI established a presence on college campuses, at educational, film and cultural festivals, and on the torsos of hundreds of Americans, Arabs and other world citizens. It did so by selling vintage Iraq-themed shirts to those who wanted to do their part to contribute to the reconstruction of the Cradle of Civilization. Though we continue to sell our (incredibly soft and flattering) Iraq-themed shirts, we have set our sights higher and are now focused on building our endowment through your generous donations.
RFI is currently guided by an accomplished advisory board that consists of Feisal Istrabadi, Iraq's former Ambassador to the United Nations; Haider Hamoudi, a senior adviser to the Iraqi government through the United Nations-Iraq Mission and a Professor at the University of Pittsburgh Law School; and, Zaid Alsikafi, a Director at Madison Dearborn Partners, one of the most experienced and successful private equity firms in the United States. Our experienced team is dynamically pursuing avenues to build our scholarship endowment to serve as a resource for now and for posterity. The endowment is managed and led by the officers and board of the organization.
In addition, many incredible legal, marketing, and accounting professionals have volunteered their time and expertise to the operation of our organization on a pro bono basis. Compassionate donors have also taken the RFI founding ideals to heart; namely, that each of us has the ability to contribute to the humanitarian reconstruction and development of Iraq.
In founding Rally for Iraq and the scholarship endowment, we realized that individuals have the ability to invest in Iraq's future and its youth. With your support, our fund represents the tangible role civilians can play in reconstruction efforts. Please consider making a donation to benefit our scholarship endowment and together we will be able to contribute to the remaking of a nation in need, one student at a time. Thank you for your support!