At Karam, we invest in young Syrian refugees to help shape a new generation of kind, courageous future Leaders.

aka Karam Foundation   |   Chicago, IL   |


Karam Foundation is a nonprofit organization investing in the education and wellbeing of Syrian refugees in Turkey, Jordan, and the United States so they can build a better future for themselves and their communities. The Syrian conflict has resulted in the largest refugee and displacement crisis of our lifetime. Karam seeks to restore a sense of hope for Syrian mothers, fathers, and children, and we do so with authenticity, bravery, expertise, and generosity (or Karam, in Arabic). It is by giving everything to those who lost everything that we hope to guide 10,000 Syrians on their individual pathways to leadership, so that they can be proactive, hopeful, and give back to those around them, with extreme Karam.

Ruling year info



Lina Sergie Attar

Main address

2045 W Grand Ave Ste B PMB 88293

Chicago, IL 60612 USA

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NTEE code info

International Development, Relief Services (Q30)

Ethnic/Immigrant Services (P84)

Public, Society Benefit - Multipurpose and Other N.E.C. (W99)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

There are officially more than 5.5 million Syrian refugees, and over 6.3 million Syrians who have been internally displaced. Millions of Syrian refugees have experienced trauma, violence, and waves of displacement. Their livelihoods have been disrupted by this conflict and families have been uprooted with little knowledge of when they will ever return home. Once displaced, refugees are forced to face major obstacles in accessing basic services or employment opportunities. We aim to address the barriers and obstacles that Syrian refugees face to accessing education and employment opportunities, and do this by providing access to tools and resources empowering them to realize their own potential. These refugees still have the agency, dignity, and an unbreakable will to succeed. They deserve all the opportunities and tools to forge new futures in their host communities.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

10,000 Leaders

Karam Foundation's programs intersect to provide pathways to leadership for Syrian refugee youth and families. With the goal of building 10,000 Leaders by 2028, Karam's programs meet individuals where they are at so that they may build better futures for themselves and their communities. Through the following three programs, individuals are empowered into leadership:

Karam Families: The Karam Families program provides families in both Istanbul and Reyhanli with a monthly financial stipend with the contingency that their children remain in school and not be forced into child labor. In addition to financial aid, parents also take part in awareness sessions to learn the best ways to support their families, whether it be by prioritizing education, eradicating child marriages, or providing psychosocial support.

Innovative Education: The Innovative Education program offered at Karam House provides resettled refugee youth with the skills, security, and social outlet needed to overcome the trauma of war and realize their potential as bright, proactive leaders of today and tomorrow. Through intensive design studios and curated workshops offered by passionate and knowledgeable field experts, students develop new skills, think critically, work collaboratively, and recognize their personal strengths to become productive and socially-healthy leaders actively contributing and giving back to the communities around them.

Karam Scholars: The Karam Scholars program supports Syrian students in Turkey and Jordan on their journey to leadership through higher education with gap funding and mentorship. We work to ensure these students are empowered with the knowledge, tools, and resources they need to make informed decisions about their futures. Providing basic information and financial aid is simply not enough. Our support is hands-on, personalized, and rooted in encouragement, on-going guidance, and practicality.

Population(s) Served
Children and youth
Immigrants and migrants
Refugees and displaced people

Where we work

Our Sustainable Development Goals

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn more about Sustainable Development Goals.

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

Our goal is to build 10,000 Leaders for the Future of Syria by 2028. A Karam leader is every Syrian who we empower to build a better future for themselves and their communities. We build leaders by providing innovative education programs, access to higher education, and training for competitive job skills and careers. Future leaders compound their impact by influencing, inspiring, and mentoring more leaders.

Our leaders are defined as problem-solvers, change-makers, and innovators who are driven to serve. They understand technology is a tool not a solution. They know they must build ideas together and be positive contributors in their host communities. They are not passive bystanders but have the agency, skills, and courage to make social change.

We build leaders by providing Syrian refugees with opportunities to learn in both formal and non-formal education environments to develop their critical thinking and problem solving skills. These leaders are refugees who have faced trauma and despair, but when provided with opportunities to overcome these barriers, they become agents of change within their own lives and the global community. By accessing our programs, Syrian children and youth enter a world that introduces them to innovation, problem-solving, and opportunity.

Our programs interlock into many possible pathways to success that are unique to each refugee and their needs. Refugees who participate in one program have the chance to (and often do) participate in others. The programs provide all-encompassing support through formal and non-formal education programs, and job employment skills - a response to several barriers that Syrian refugees face by relieving burdens now, as well as creating opportunities for the future.

Karam has built a dedicated team of donors, volunteers and staff since our founding in 2007. Most members of this team, especially those in-region, are themselves Syrian refugees with professional experience across a spectrum of fields. The Karam team understands the nuanced situation on the ground, the needs of the people affected, and the best way to help people help themselves. With their intimate understanding of the country and context, the team develops programs based on tested models that we know work. We have long invested in Syrian refugee youth through innovative education programs. With these robistic and holistic education and work programs, we have built accessible pathways to success, and believe these pathways are the most effective way to make a sustainable and scalable impact.

Karam Foundation is proud to be fulfilling our goals. One indicator of our success in this is the scaling of our one of our key program areas, Innovative Education. In October 2018 we opened our second Karam House, the first of which has been operating in Reyhanli, Turkey, near the Syrian border since March 2017. We have also scaled Karam Scholars, now reaching over 100 students in Turkey and Jordan to help them access higher education. Through monthly tracking of key indicators, we are able to ensure that we are fulfilling our targets across all of our programs. Not only have we been able to scale, but the quality of our program delivery has greatly improved as well, as we have invested resources into building the capacity of our teams, particularly at Karam House and Sponsor A Syrian Refugee Family.

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We demonstrated a willingness to learn more by reviewing resources about feedback practice.
done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify and remedy poor client service experiences, To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve, To understand people's needs and how we can help them achieve their goals

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We collect feedback from the people we serve at least annually, We take steps to get feedback from marginalized or under-represented people, We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We take steps to ensure people feel comfortable being honest with us, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We act on the feedback we receive

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time, It is hard to come up with good questions to ask people



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

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Board of directors
as of 02/01/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Rasha Mansouri Elmasry

Aya Samman

Lina Sergie Attar

Razan Maasarani-Wafai

Anna Nolan

Mamak Shahbazi

John O'Farrell

Sana Mustafa

Sharad Samy

Omar Salem

Sarah Rahman

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No