10 THINGS YOU DIDN'T KNOW ABOUT KARAM
1. Karam Foundation was founded in 2007: our original mission was to give whatever was needed to whoever needed it. Our goal was to raise community awareness about giving and charity, and to realize that there are a lot of innovative and effective ways to give. 10 years ago that’s what we were so attracted to – to learn ways to give and inspire others to as well.
2. Our projects were local and based in Chicago: We used to support food drives and clothing drives, distributing food vouchers and grocery vouchers to marginalized communities in Chicago. We also provided assistance to newly resettled Iraqi refugees in Boston.
3. Our first project was a community cookbook: Our first event was hosting an Iftar during Ramadan where we sold copies of our community cookbook. This was a way for us to engage the community and introduce them to Karam. It featured recipes of traditional Ramadan dishes from generations of families in the community.
4. We had 0 staff until 2015: for 8 years we were operating on a volunteer board.
5. Most of our international staff are Syrian refugees: We strongly believe in uplifting the communities that we serve and we are committed to practicing what we preach. When we decided to hire mentors and program coordinators to oversee our programs in Turkey and Syria, we employed members from the local community.
6. Until August 2016, Karam was headquartered in the CEO's basement: For years, we worked out of local coffeeshops, in the kitchen of our CEO's home, and for a couple years worked in the basement of her home which was designed as a home office. As our team grew, we decided it was time to move out.
7. The curriculum taught at Karam House is groundbreaking: Our team is providing advanced STEAM-based learning to one of the most impoverished communities in Turkey. The space is fully equipped with a media lab, 3-D printers, and a laser cutter. We are working with NuVu studios in Cambridge to expand on the curriculum.
8. Most of our US staff are women: Up until 2016, all of our staff in the US were women. We were a fierce female-led powerhouse.
9. Our youngest Karam staff has an ad running in Times Square: Suliman is a self-taught graphic designer who moved to Reyhanli with his family due to the ongoing war. He is only 19 – the youngest member of the entire Karam team, and he designed an ad that is currently running in Times Square.
10. Our Scents of Syria line was featured in Forbes magazine twice: Writer Elizabeth MacBride interviewed the founder of Ghar, the women's collective that we support to learn more about the initiative.