Photo: Ellen Jaskol

 Central Asia Institute Releases 2013 Annual Report 


Photo by Erik Petersen.

Dear Friends of CAI,

I write as the new Executive Director of Central Asia Institute (CAI) with a

positive report and message to accompany our 2013 financial statements.


In April 2011, CAI suffered a nationally televised assertion of widespread wrongdoing by a powerful reporting source. Within months, the Office of the Attorney General of Montana (OAG) had launched an investigation that resulted in a voluntary settlement that required CAI make specific improvements to its governance, management, and operations systems. These changes have all been made. A civil suit also resulted from this report; but in October 2013 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit upheld a lower federal court judge's ruling that the lawsuit stemming from the media accusations contained "imprecise, in part flimsy, and speculative" claims and theories and permanently dismissed the claims.


But, CAI was far from vindicated. Grave damage had been done. These allegations directly led to a devastating 80% drop in CAI donations and CAI's reputation was significantly harmed. Yet, in spite of this onslaught of adversity, CAI learned from its mistakes and has survived and is living up to its promises to be an improved, more transparent, and efficient organization.


CAI grew rapidly from 2007 through early 2011. With an extremely lean management team and a rapid pace of growth, the organization's management made some noteworthy mistakes in judgment during this period. Yet it is worth remembering that in the 18 years since its inception,

CAI has provided funds to build 191 new schools and pioneered another 208 education and community-service programs. This is an accomplishment nearly everyone, including CAI's critics, regard as nearly miraculous. Today, contrary to accusations in the press, CAI remains committed to the hundreds of schools, projects, and programs it built and/or currently supports. And most importantly, that ongoing commitment means that even now, tens of thousands of students, mostly girls, are enrolled in school.


CAI learned some important lessons from this experience. In addition to addressing all of the actions required in its agreement with the Montana Attorney General, the Board of Directors and employees have gone far beyond these to verify that every penny donated is accounted for, making numerous improvements in financial and operating systems. CAI goes through an annual, rigorous audit and has recruited well-schooled and experienced additions to its domestic team. Finally, CAI has developed a new respect for the necessity of conforming to and complying with regulations and reporting requirements in the United States and each of the countries and provinces it serves.

Photo by Erik Petersen.


As you will see in the pages that follow, CAI made substantial improvements in every facet of operations in FY 2012/2013, with one vitally important exception: Donations remained depressed. The favorable federal court ruling came too late in the year for CAI to reverse the tide of negative donor perceptions in 2013.

But time is a healer and CAI has proven its resiliency. Armed with the decision of the courts, in FY 2013/2014 CAI expects to halt the downward trend in donations while simultaneously consolidating its gains in international operations.

It is an honor and a privilege to be part of the resilient team at Central Asia Institute. We love our mission and the people we live to serve. CAI does frontline work in regions where the need for literacy and education is desperate and where few others dare to tread. Many times this work is difficult and dangerous, and the difficulties and dangers increase daily. I am filled with personal admiration for each and every member of the CAI team. Every day, I see them working with energy, enthusiasm, and a deep sense of commitment to the worthwhile cause of promoting peace by enabling literacy and education.

CAI is on the move again. We hope you will join us, or re-join us, on this marvelous Journey of Hope.*  We look forward to walking this path with you and the good people of the mountainous regions of Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Tajikistan.



Jim Thaden

Executive Director

Central Asia Institute.

CAI's Annual Report, the full audited financial statements, and Tax Form 990 are also provided on our Financials Page

 * Journey of Hope is CAI's annual magazine. Visit to register for a free subscription.


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 Early Childhood Development (ECD) Reaps Rewards for Girls in Pakistan: 


There's no disputing it: Children

Photo: Erik Petersen.

who learn to count and recognize letters of the alphabet before they start first-grade get the best start in life - academically, socially, physically, and intellectually.


And these benefits to the individual child are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the merits of investing in early childhood development (ECD).


"We know ECD helps prepare children for better success in school and in life," said Dilshad Begum, a CAI-supported program director with Central Asia Institute (CAI) - Gilgit in northern Paksitan. "And we know it helps build better society in the long term."


When CAI first began its work in the mid-1990s, its focus was on primary education, with an increasing emphasis on girls. As those students climbed the academic ladder, communities began to ask that the CAI-supported primary schools be expanded to include middle, then high school classes. In some communities, CAI has even built and supported higher-secondary or college-level schools.

But at the same time, there has been a growing awareness in regions where CAI works of the value of ECD, or preschool, classes.


Read the full story on the CAI Communiqué, our blog.

Watch video footage of a CAI - supported ECD Center on CAI's Vimeo



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It's Almost Time for Back to School! 

Photo: Erik Petersen.


The back to school season is upon us! And at Central Asia Institute (CAI), we are busy gearing up our Pennies for Peace program for the new school year. 


Pennies for Peace is a service - learning program of CAI, which encourages students from around the world to unite together to promote international education. Based on the idea that every penny counts, Pennies for Peace equips students of all ages with the tools to become entrepreneurs. 


With our free toolkit, the Pennies for Peace curriculum is easy to implement in any classroom, k-12. The curriculum is fun, and unites students over the common goal of education. And, all of the proceeds from our Pennies for Peace campaigns go directly to overseas programs! Register a campaign today, or visit for more information. 



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