Central Asia Institute

Rating: 3.08 stars   50 reviews

Issues: International

Location: PO Box 7209 Bozeman MT 59771 USA

Mission: Central Asia Institute (CAI) works with communities in remote areas of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, to promote education, especially for girls. At home and abroad, CAI is committed to sharing its expert knowledge with the public. Together we can cultivate peace, nurture hope, and change the world, one child at a time.
Results: Central Asia Institute has: - Built and or supported just under 300 schools - Constructed or sponsored 48 women’s vocational and literacy centers - Created 34 public health programs - Established 9 scholarship programs - Undertaken 16 community programs
Programs: Since its founding in 1996, Central Asia Institute has:
  • Built and or supported just under 300 schools
  • Constructed or sponsored 48 women’s vocational and literacy centers
  • Created 34 public health programs
  • Established 9 scholarship programs
  • Undertaken 16 community programs
  • CAI’s service-learning program, Pennies for Peace (P4P), was started in 1994 to teach children that a little goes a long way. By raising pennies to donate to impoverished schoolchildren in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan, kids discover their potential as humanitarians and philanthropists. While a penny is virtually worthless in many societies, it can open the door to literacy for a child in Central Asia.
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    EIN 51-0376237
    406.585.7841
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    Community Reviews

    Rating: 1 stars  

    2 people found this review helpful

    I have no idea why people would want you to take down your "Donor Advisory"; I, for one, appreciate it and it's one of the reasons I use Charity Navigator! No, simply reading the reviews and other info doesn't speak for itself - the advisory is helpful. As a co-founder of a non-profit that works with war-injured children, I'm appalled at the "salary" and perks that Greg Mortenson was taking from his "charity". I think what the CAI does is wonderful, but without removing Mortenson from the Board, I can't have much faith that the money is going where it should.

    Will you volunteer or donate to this organization?

    Unlikely

    How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

    Some

    When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

    2011

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    4 people found this review helpful

    I agree with the other reviewers. Please just present the facts and treat them like any other charity. Information about their financials would be very useful. Links to outside web articles and a blinking red advisory seems excessive.

    Was your donation impactful?

    Likely

    How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

    Likely

    How likely are you to donate to this group again?

    Likely

    When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

    2011

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    7 people found this review helpful

    I agree with other reviewers who have asked you to simply post the charity's information and financials as you do for other charities so potential donors can make their decisions based on data. I believe you lose some credibility when you allow news magazines and authors trying to sell their inflammatory books to make your evaluations.

    Was your donation impactful?

    Likely

    How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

    Definitely

    How likely are you to donate to this group again?

    Definitely

    When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

    2011

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    9 people found this review helpful

    Charity Navigator, please take down the Donor Advisory. Just post their financial information and let it speak for itself. On their website, CAI says they have averaged spending 83% of their revenues on programs. Maybe recently they've been saving up, because of all the added revenue from the books. It would be wasteful to spend money that fast, just to say that their spending percentage met a certain requirement. They obviously have a larger revenue stream than ever before, and they want to be careful how they spend it. It takes a lot of time to lay the social and political groundwork for a new school. They can't just say, "let's build 100 schools this month, because we have the money for it." I've been a loyal donar to CAI for about a year, and all this controversy honestly scared my wife and I enough that we've stopped our monthly contributions to them. Reading the reviews of others on this site, and looking at CAI's site has reminded me how awesome they are. We'll be giving monthly to them again soon.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    My home reading the books.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    keep up the good work.

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 1 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    People have to start looking into more and more charities. The public is just taking for granted that when the word charity is involved, that the money u give is being used in the charities best interest. What I am finding, is that alot of charities are benefiting contractors or members of these charities or services provided to these charities are profiting greatly and only a small % of funds are going to help the charities mission...please investigate the %of money made vs. money given to charity grants (not salaries, not expenses, not questionable payments to 3rd parties...one on my radar is Susan B Coleman that spends over 70 % for salaries and other questionable expenses...hundreds of millions collected for the AWARENESS OF BREAST CANCER...Im aware, how spending hundreds of millions on cure, research, care, and prevention

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    60 minutes yea

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    kind of a wasteful charity in my opinion

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    Rating: 5 stars  

    6 people found this review helpful

    I want C.N. to remove their "warning" as I belive CAI has satisfactorily answered all the allegations. It's over. I have confidence in their belief that education is the only way. Hey, all that killing and all that bombing have not changed a thing. Education both in the US and Pakistan and Afghanistan is our only hope in getting them out of the stone age, giving women the freedom of choices they deserve.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    Saw Greg speak in person and can see/feel his passion for these people.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    None that I am aware of.

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    1 previous review
    Rating: 5 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    I beleive all the allegations have been answered by Greg Mortonsen and CAI. I believe this "warning" of these unproven accusations should be removed from Charity Navigator. I believe that the money is being used appropriately and I suspect some of you critics may not know a lot about his work...he is the attraction, he is the one that must travel, and sometimes to places where commercial planes, etc. would not be practical. He recently spoke at a small town in Michigan and spent hours signing autographs adn speaking to people personally. How many of us would kill our selves for a cause we fully believe in? I will continue to support this man. His approach, I beleive, is the only way to change things in the Middle East. And it's a lot cheaper than war.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    no

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    None known.

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    1 previous review
    Rating: 5 stars  

    1 person found this review helpful

    I'd like to know what the ulterior motive behind this is. And if it's on TV we should all believe it right? If you check their website you will see that questions about Greg's "use" of funds has already legal been reviewed and found to be alright. I'm sure the CEOs of other charities do not fly around the country and pay from their own pocket. I saw him speak here in Michigan last year...he is obviously passionate about helping these kids, he stayed and signed autographs personally for well over an hour, speaking with each of us personally and seemed tired, but never rushed anyone that wanted to talk. His schedule is day after day after day of travel and you sure can't depend upon commerical flights for dependability. Reference the salaries of a few other charities who are having less of an impact on the world and our future and compare salaries. The only way to stop the hatred of the US by these countries who are uneducated and secluded from the real world is education. I couldn't care less if he "condensed" his Korphe experience, so what. What matters is what is accomplished now. He spent a lot of years of his own effort to get this going. Please tell me what the hidden agenda of this Krakauer guy is???

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    n/a

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Be more forthcomign about expenses to avoid garbage like this in the future.

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    9 people found this review helpful

    My husband, a Peace Corps volunteer teacher in Afghanistan during the 1970's, and I have been steady supporters of CAI since we initially learned of its activities several years ago. The building and schools and the training of teachers, focusing on female students, is of prime importance to the future of Afghanistan in our experience. All the information from CAI rings true to us. We follow their website, meet with their personnel, and attend their meetings on the West Coast.

    The "60 minutes" program appeared to be based primary on a disgruntled employee. CAI has mounted all its financials on its website. We continue to support the group fully and gratefully.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    Learning from other Peace Corps volunteers of the positive impact of CAI schools and teachers on Afghan students.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Urge them to continue their work in Afghanistan and Pakistan, working with their expanded Board and other advisors.

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    Review from Guidestar
    Rating: 4 stars  

    5 people found this review helpful

    NAME ONE ORGANIZATION THAT HAS BUILT ANY SCHOOLS IN THESE CONTRIES???? HAS 60 MINUTES BEEN INVOLVED IN ANYTHING HUMANITARIAN IN THE US OR THE WORLD??? DOES DESTROYING AIS HELP ANYONE??? WHY DID 60 MINUTES DO THIS INSTEAD OF USING A HELPING APPROACH???

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    BELIEVING THAT PEOPLE ARE GOOD AND WANT TO HELP OTHERS

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    SATISFY THE PUBLICS DESIRE FOR RECORD KEEPING AND TRANSPARRENCY.

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    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 4 stars  

    4 people found this review helpful

    The CBS News / Jon Krakauer allegations of 4/17 and thereafter PLUS the ongoing investigations by the Montana AG and Penguin / Viking Books cause me to enter a 4 rating rather than a 5. In other words, I continue to support the organization fully as I have for 3+ years, but I recognize that there are questions to be answered.

    I subscribe heartily to CAI's philosophy and success in gaining village agreement, resource support, and sweat equity for every bridge, school, women's center, and medical center they fund. Also their financial support for teacher training and stipends without any attempt to say what the subject matter and curriculum should be. Lastly, I believe in the engagement of students throughout the US (and beyond?) in funding school supplies and uniforms for village children who will attend those or other schools, taught by those or other teachers.

    I expect CN to drop the Donor Advisory as SOON as the investigations are published, unless those results cause CN instead to reduce its own valuation of CAI's worth and viability.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    Watching as friends and family members are inspired by Mr. Mortenson's work described in the 2 books. Listening as a friend involved with The Virtues Project out of Vancouver, B.C. described the hour she spent with him in a hotel coffee shop, exchanging educational ideas, examples, and experiences.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Add'l directors to balance Mr Mortenson's powerful enthusiasm / personality, preferably people from the areas served or with experience working there. [Ex: I know an Egyptian civil engineer who's been building earthquake-proof schools & clinics in mountainous Pakistan for 4 years who will retire ca. 2015.] Add'l staff with appropriate skills & understanding of the mission, to spread the workload such that EVERY staffer could expect to work a 40-hr week (like real people!!) most of the time.

    Was your donation impactful?

    Likely

    How likely is it that you would recommend that a friend donate to this group?

    Definitely

    How likely are you to donate to this group again?

    Definitely

    What specific problem, purpose, priority, or project prompted your gift?

    My stepson, recognizing my interest in community development generally, chose CAI for a donation in my name as his Christmas gift to me one year. His thoughtfulness pleased me greatly, and his choice of charity excited me, as I already knew of Greg Mortenson and "3CofT". That donation has now become a tradition between us.

    What would you tell others about this organization?

    That the director's knowledge & skill base for working effectively at The Roof of the World is possibly unrivaled. That the staff is legendary in their commitment & work ethic. That BOTH the staff AND the people they serve benefit in practical, emotional, cultural, and spiritual ways by their work together.

    When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

    2011

    Was this review helpful? 
    Review from CharityNavigator
    Rating: 5 stars  

    4 people found this review helpful

    Yes, I saw the 60 minutes report -- but did anyone actually take the time to read his responses (and the CAI's board of directors) to the 60 minutes report? You know, his side of the story? The fact that perhaps the reporters who questioned folks in Pakistan and Afghanistan might have talked to the wrong people? 60 minutes raised some good questions, but they gave him less than ONE WEEK and were in his FACE demanding an answer. Anyone take a look at the CAI tax returns on the CAI website? Mr. Mortensen was making $28k in 1996. In 1997, it was $31k. In 2003, something like $50k. TO LEAD AN ENTIRE ORGANIZATION AND BUST HIS TAIL DOING SOMETHING NOONE ELSE WAS WILLING TO DO! You can start criticizing the day you go over to Afghanistan and build a school. Give the guy a break. His compensation now takes that into account (again, read the response from the CAI board on the 60 minutes website, at the end of the article). Perhaps he needs to hire a PR person or a business manager to handle the reporting better, or hire someone to track exactly how many schools are built and visit them each once a year to check on their progress, but Krakauer himself said that Mortensen's a good guy with a good heart. Don't believe everything you read, but don't believe everything 60 minutes reports. Everything is ALWAYS slanted, on both ends of it. I'm giving it 5 stars to compensate for the ignorance of some of the other reviewers.

    I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

    None.

    If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

    Hire a better PR person to help field the demands of a demanding American public.

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