Central Asia Institute

Rating: 3.08 stars   50 reviews


PO Box 7209 Bozeman MT 59771 USA


We empower communities of Central Asia through literacy and education, especially for girls; to promote peace through education; and to convey the importance of these activities globally.


Central Asia Institute was started in 1996. Since then we have built 189 schools, supported 120 schools, 65 vocational & literacy programs, 14 community programs, 37 public health programs, 11 scholarship programs, and 14 teacher support programs. This past year we positively impacted over 100,000 people through CAI supported programs.

Target demographics:

empowering girls and women in Central Asia

Geographic areas served:

Afghanistan, Pakistan, & Tajikistan


We build schools, provide ongoing support to schools and children, women's vocational centers & literacy programs, public health programs, community programs, teacher training programs and scholarship programs.

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Reviews for Central Asia Institute

Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 1 stars  

8 people found this review helpful

I've spent many years in Afghanistan. I donated good money to the CAI nearly a decade ago. Greg Mortenson has been proven a thief. Believe me when I say this: putting up schools in these countries cost's nearly nothing out of pocket, but costs nearly everything out of heart and passion. When I was in the Marines, we built three schools in 1 DAY! You know what took 6 months? Getting students there, getting teachers to stay, getting girls there and getting supplies. Mr. Mortenson, you may think one day that people will see your overall effort as positive. Don't, for a second, think that I will. Spending $1.5 million on domestic travel for yourself. What you've done is beyond forgivable - not because we can't forgive, because we must forgive - but because a man of your malicious moral fiber can never be upstanding. There's a reason you spent your twenties living in a car - if that was even true - because you can only steal your wealth.

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A lot

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Review from CharityNavigator
Role: Professional with expertise in this field
Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

Regardless of whether or not CAI has exaggerated its reports, one should pay particular attention to the impact that CAI has had at the grassroots levels - on the "local" populations. It appears to me that those higher up the bureaucratic chain are quick to join the bandwagon in pointing out how CAI could have been sounder in its decisions, or conducted better work. However, at the end of the day, let us be realistic. We are dealing with areas of the world where the government, NATO, or US security forces had a minimal presence and most definitely did not address the education needs of the marginalized. CAI has been performing and continues to perform great feats under great challenges.

Thank you

A helpful article to put what I have said into perspective:

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

My conversations with a few individuals from Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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

With better transparency and less pay for Mr. Mortenson, CAI should be supported in its work. I think his personal salary in comparison to CAI’s revenues is too high, especially when your compare his salary to those leading international organizations such as the American Red Cross. I suppose further investigations over time will provide CAI the opportunity to restore is image.

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What is unique about this organization?

The area where it functions. The scope of its work.

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Review from CharityNavigator
Rating: 1 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

If you are considering donating money to CAI, please understand that this organization has effectively been committing fraud. I have spent years in the development field and this is not an uncommon result when an individual sets up a program without a good management team, board of directors and other forms of proper oversight. Until the management team admit their mistakes and make the necessary changes you should consider giving your hard earned money to more effective organizations.

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

No need for firsthand experience; the research has been done by many other respected individuals and institutions that confirm the serious deficiencies with CAI.

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

New board, hire a staff accountant (!), admit mistakes, change policy concerning financial support for Mr. Mortenson's activities, replace Mr. Mortenson with a professional NGO manager who has solid experience in both management and international development.

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Review from Guidestar