Maya Ajmera founded Global Fund for Children in 1993, when she was just 25 years old, after experiencing a “moment of obligation” on a train platform in India. Under Maya’s 17 years of leadership (1993-2011), GFC grew from a seedling vision into one of the largest networks of community-based organizations working on behalf of children and youth worldwide.
Maya’s radical vision to support small, local organizations with flexible funds – thereby improving the lives of children and youth in marginalized communities around the world – continues to drive GFC’s work today.
Under Maya’s leadership, GFC first pioneered the Sustainability Awards in 2005, providing a special infusion of funds to outstanding partners at a critical stage of their development. This award was renamed the Maya Ajmera Sustainability Award in 2011, honoring Maya’s years of service to GFC.
More than 150 organizations have received the award since its establishment in 2005. Our programs team determines a pool of nominees each year; winners are then chosen through a participatory selection process involving alumni winners and GFC’s Youth Leadership Council.
Some Sustainability Award winners have achieved exceptional success in organizational development; many have attained regional and national influence and recognition in the field of children’s rights; others have demonstrated a deep commitment to learning and leadership throughout their GFC partnership.
With guidance and support from GFC, each winner determines how to apply the award funds toward its sustainability – whether that means establishing a reserve fund, investing in human resources, or purchasing new equipment or office space.
In a 2018 impact assessment of the award, which surveyed alumni winners, 98% of respondents found the award very or extremely helpful to their development.
In the midst of the global coronavirus pandemic, the 2020 awards recognize two outstanding organizations that have persevered despite unprecedented challenges. Ashanti Perú in Peru and Institute for Rural Initiatives (IRI) in Moldova are working to meet the most pressing needs of young people and their communities, while thinking strategically about how to build more equal futures for children and youth beyond the pandemic.
In a period when the recent events in the United States have spurred a deeper examination of racial justice and the legacy of slavery, Ashanti Perú’s work with Afro-descendant youth in Peru is a critical reminder that this effort goes well beyond the borders of the United States. The organization’s powerful vision for change involves strengthening networks of Afro-descendant youth in the region. In Moldova, Institute for Rural Initiatives has shown through its response to COVID-19, and much of the organization’s history, that true sustainability requires deep listening and building ownership with young people and communities.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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