The Tufenkian Foundation was launched in 1999 to address the most pressing social, economic, cultural and environmental challenges facing Armenia. For almost two decades, the Foundation has worked to meet this need by modeling new approaches to longstanding challenges, while pioneering projects that create changes that can ripple through multiple layers of Armenian society.
To date, we have completed more than 70 projects in Armenia to combat poverty, promote education, protect the natural environment, renew national, civic, cultural and religious values, and foster social justice and respect for human rights.
Since 2002, the Foundation has pursued a combination of hands-on reforestation, community initiatives, and public advocacy campaigns to help Armenians secure a better environment and better environmental policies -- a cause that is still at the heart of our work. Our main focus today is on improved mining legislation via the Mining Legislation Reform Institute (MLRI), a registered Armenian NGO. We seek to ensure that mining in Armenia is practiced responsibly and provides sufficient benefits to the country and local communities.
For nearly 20 years, our social workers have developed a model for combating extreme poverty in Armenia, empowering the most marginalized families by providing the support they need to break their cycles of poverty and neglect. Our model focuses on treating the immediate causes of poverty, rather than simply addressing the symptoms. Rather than giving handouts, we focus on in-depth work with entire families, connecting them to a complete professional support network. The results have been inspiring: each year, dozens of families successfully break the cycle of poverty as most beneficiaries find gainful employment or other ways to reintegrate into society, while many children go on to study in higher educational institutions.
The Foundation focuses on developing communities in vulnerable, strategic border areas -- both through resettlement and economic development activities. Alongside these, we invest in restoration of sites that preserve the immense, centuries-old cultural heritage of Armenia and Nagorno Karabagh. Recent projects include restoration of the 17th century Saint Stepanos church in Hochants village, the 17th century Saint Minas church in Hak village, and sections of the medieval Dadivank monastery complex. As we preserve these cultural treasures, we work with local inhabitants to promote active use through religious services, pilgrimages, and other events that bring these sites back to life.
Resettlement of the liberated territories is one of the core objectives of the Tufenkian Foundation. Alongside with its partners and with the support of various donors, the Foundation conducts housing and economic development projects in the liberated territories. Later this year, the Foundation will conclude a three-year development plan for a cluster of villages in the northern part of the Kashatagh district, around the town of Moshatagh. At the same time, the Tufenkian Foundation will launch a five-year development plan for the four villages in Kashatagh’s south, including Mijnavan community.
Over time, as the challenges facing Armenian society have changed, so have our priorities. While social protection remains an important goal, the Foundation has gradually broadened its focus to include issues of social justice. These include combating domestic violence and gender inequality, strengthening local civil society, fostering free and fair election, promoting human rights including children's rights, protecting Armenia's natural environment, and generally making Armenia more just and livable for all groups in society.
Many of the Foundation's programs began as one-off projects, eventually spinning off to become independent, fully-fledged NGOs in their own right. Two examples are the Women's Support Center and the Family and Community NGO, which have become leading organizations in the areas of domestic violence and children's rights.