I have had the pleasure with interning for Asia America Initiative and have been able to see, firsthand, how passionate and dedicated the members are towards the organization’s efforts in the Philippines. From the committed president, Albert Santoli, to his staff and volunteers found throughout the globe, the organization continues to stay true its values of promoting peace in ethnically divided regions of the Southern Philippines, improving education by providing scholastic tools for students, and through helping to ensure improvement of the health of the area by implementing school lunch programs and completing clean water projects. I see Asia America Initiative continuing to move forward with determination in order to empower local communities and to give hope to those throughout the nation one program at a time.
Review from Guidestar
I have been a supporter of Asia America Initiative for several years and watched their ability to promote human dignity through health, education, supplies of seeds and tools for farming making a dire existence hopeful and positive. The determination and persistence to create peace and inter-faith harmony among its peoples, Al Santoli, has made remarkable strides with minimal funding and tremendous sacrifice of his own health. Tireless and ever hopeful I am certain this organization will be one of the models for our ever changing world.
Review from Guidestar
The Asia America Initiative was created in 2002 to serve in areas of high poverty and armed conflict, especially in religious or civil war environments where governmental or military interventions were not succeeding in creating a better life for the local people and causing international terror and instability to grow. The founder of the organization, classified by the Veterans Administration as fully physically disabled from war wounds and a US army veteran of the Vietnam War, believed that building friendship and trust with vulnerable peoples in at-risk communities could overcome the lure of hatred and revenge advocated by violent extremists. This totally civilian effort could also prevent American soldiers from becoming "wounded warriors" by keeping them out of complex cultural and political environments.
The Asia America Initiative utilizes holistic community-based social and economic development centered around education -- especially in elementary schools -- and public health as a means to development and security Almost all field staff are from the host country or local communities, with a basic professional management and administrative staff of not more than 5 persons at the organization's headquarters in the Washington D.C. area. The organization has performed more than $100 million in direct field services through gifts in kind from a variety of corporations in Southeast Asia and Afghanistan. However, the amount of cash raised by the organization averages only around $200,000 annually, with the organization's Executive Director has not taken any more than $15 thousand per year as a basic salary between 2008 and 2014. The Board of Directors are unpaid. While office work in the U.S. is done by undergraduate and graduate student interns and volunteers who have represented almost 30 countries from around the world. IN the Philippines, where many of sia America Initiatives model programs are conducted more than 250,000 survivors of man-made and natural disasters have been provided direct services. On at least three different occasions, AAi has partnered with the Red Cross and international and local non-profit organizations to prevent the outbreak of civil war between Muslims and Christians. As a result, AAi has received two Philippines Presidential Citations in 2003 and in 2013 for Peace Building and Humanitarian Services. And in 2006, AAI received an accomodation from the US Marine Corps for assisting the USMC Command and Staff College with Integrating humanitarian programs into deterring and defeating terrorism.
Marine Corps Command and Staff College
2076 South Street
Quantico, VA 22134-5068
8 December 2006
Asia America Initiative Board
1521 161h NW
Washington DC 20036
Dear Board Members:
My thanks to Al Santoli his professional efforts are helping usher in a new chapter in civil-military cooperation. The US military is experimenting with new operational ·design by setting the security challenges facing the Asia-Pacific. By setting these problems with key actors, like AAI, we can share understanding and commitment to a solution. Al Santoli is the key NGO representative helping pioneer this approach.
Last April, Service executives decided that a new approach to operational art must
include understanding the problems we face writ large prior to developing solutions, Old planning models seek answers 'before setting the problem and exclude key actors that are a greater part of the solution. \Ve must consider methods that address complex real world problems with committed real world actors. The area selected is the Asia Pacific, and for the next two years the USMC is sponsoring a Title X experiment that serves to better inform and plan operations. The results are not just for analysis they will inform and mutually support real-world actors. Than.ks to Al, our current discourse has caught the
attention and involvement of the interagency.
All this requires the timely analysis of security threats, Al Santoli 's expertise here and follow--0u efforts will help provide solutions for greater peace and security. His continued participation is critical to our future success.
Please feel free to call me and I will be happy to explain further Al Santoli's fine support.
Col Roger Morin
Review from Guidestar
Asia America Initiative (AAI) works in regions of the Philippines to establish and support educational programs, and supply cancer and genetic therapy medications to patients living in poverty. These efforts have great benefit to the recipients, and are also designed to promote stability in regions that could be susceptible to violence and infiltration from terrorist organizations. AAI believes that if a community has access to proper education and sustainable means to support itself, its members are much more likely to resist recruitment from terrorists and other criminal organizations. Many nonprofits supply relief to those in need, which is admirable, but few have a long term vision that includes promoting security in a region.
The founder of AAI believes that donors generally prefer their gifts to be used directly on the programs that his organization supports. For this reason, he ensures that the vast majority of the donations received are used within the Philippines, not on company overhead or salaries. AAI has been a true labor of love, and all donations whether monetary or gifts in kind are strategically used to ensure that they will have the greatest impact. Anyone that decides to donate to this organization can know that they are making a direct impact on the lives of others.
Some of the most remarkable work that AAI does is in sending donated medications to Filipino children with rare genetic diseases. These medications are expensive even by Western standards, but they can be prohibitively expensive to an impoverished family. Without receiving these medications, the children would likely die of their conditions; instead, they will go on to lead longer lives and perhaps make valuable contributions to their own community.
I believe AAI is a good steward of its donors’ contributions, and is a beneficial influence within the Philippines and beyond.
Review from Guidestar
AAI is a unique charitable institution in both its administration and mission. The founder is a disabled veteran, the programs support community resiliency, health, and education in areas which the UN had declared at the bottom of the Human Development Index, and the entire organization operates on a minuscule budget; the majority of donations are gifts-in-kind.
Most important, the Executive Director receives an annual salary of less than $10,000 - compared with many NGO's/non-profits whose directors make hundreds of thousands a year. This is a conscious decision by the founder to ensure the vast majority of funds are distributed to the various field programs. These programs focus primarily on strengthening the schools of communities which face conflict, poverty, extremism, corruption, malnutrition, disease, and more. In so doing, AAI supports school health clinics, clean water, remedial education, community gardens, and throughout this requires regular reporting and local family participation. AAI also supports livelihood training, disaster relief, and children's cancer/rare genetic disease treatments. All with minimal domestic overhead and in-country volunteers.
Through more than 12 years of hard work and careful spending, AAI has managed to give these children and their families and sense of community; a vested interest in maintaining programs designed to prevent corruption, establish accountability, and give people a chance to survive on their own. Most important, these programs are not simple charity - continuous giving with limited oversight, follow through, or recipient responsibility - but they are designed to give people the skills and community stability to stand on their own.
Review from Guidestar
Through a bosom friend of mine who has worked so closely with the Founder-President of Asia America Initiative, I have come to know the ins and outs of this nonprofit organization. It is a scam and its president a phony. This NGO is nothing more than its president’s bread and butter.
Since this nonprofit’s inception, its main beneficiary has been its founder-president himself. He decides his own compensation, benefits and perks. All checks payable to him are approved, written, and signed by one person – its president! The LION’S SHARE of any leftover funds and in-kind donations (mostly medicines) goes to the Muslim-dominated areas of southern Philippines that don’t need much assistance anyway since the people there are lavishly supported by Al Queda and other terrorist groups.
The website of the organization is pretty impressive but totally deceptive. No one on its board is aware of the inner workings of AAI. And, the entire organization is run out of its president’s bedroom in a Northern Virginia luxury apartment.
I can go on and on…. In a nutshell, Asia America Initiative is not a real charity; it is nothing but a cash cow for its Founder-President. No one should support it without fully investigating its president’s misuse of donor funds. If you have ever supported it, you should ask for a refund.
I worked with AAI in the summer of 2011. The president, Mr. Santoli, is energetic, passionate, and wonderful to work with. The organization does not operate on a very large budget, but it manages to accomplish a great deal across a host of issues. One can only imagine how effective they could be with just a little more money.