Somaliland:The American People supporting Facilities Modernization at the Abaarso School

rooms in the girls dorm facing west
rooms in the girls dorm facing west
rooms in the girls dorm facing west
rooms in the girls dorm facing west

(New York, NY December 9, 2015) The Abaarso School, a non-profit boarding school in Somaliland, announced today that USAID’s Office of American Schools and Hospitals Abroad (ASHA) has given Abaarso a grant of $879,225 to modernize its facilities. This follows a $291,000 grant a year earlier for the purpose of expanding Abaarso School from secondary school only, to an intermediate and secondary school.

The grant was awarded to Horn of Africa Education Development Fund (HED), the US 501(c)(3) that will oversee the grant. ASHA is funding infrastructure improvements at Abaarso, including a modern well-equipped science building, auditorium renovation, enhancements to Abaarso’s physical fitness and athletic facilities, improvements to the staff quarters, and the continued “greening” of campus through solar power, water capture, and anaerobic digesters.

Founded in 2009 by Jonathan Starr, a one-time financial executive, the school has sent 60 of its students to universities and preparatory schools globally, the majority in the US.  Among other prestigious institutions, Abaarso students are now studying at Harvard, MIT, Georgetown, Amherst, and Carnegie Melon.

Jonathan Starr, who also serves as Abaarso’s Headmaster, said: “Our students and faculty’s exceptional results have occurred despite operating at a clear facilities disadvantage as compared to our peers. This ASHA grant will significantly close that gap while also improving the quality of life for our teachers.”

“The Abaarso School has matured from a privately funded non-profit to gaining support from perhaps the most rigorous vetting donor in the world.  With ASHA supporting the facilities side, HED can now focus its efforts on funding financial aid so Abaarso can accept and support the most gifted Somali students. We want to express our gratitude to ASHA for continuing to believe in our mission,” said Anand Desai, Chairman of HED.

According to ASHA Director Katherine Crawford, “The USAID/ASHA office is proud to contribute for the second year running to the Abaarso School.  The Abaarso School is an outstanding example of a private initiative bringing world-class secondary education to the developing world.  The ASHA grant follows years of amazing effort by private citizens, both American and Somali, to rebuild the country’s education sector and offer extraordinary possibilities to smart and motivated Somali students.  The USAID/ASHA office is funding Abaarso’s facilities to a quality on par with private American schools.”

Dr. Saad Shire, Somaliland Foreign Minister said, “Abaarso School has been a wonderful asset to the Somali people through its extremely high quality education. Somaliland is grateful for this initiative, and we hope that Abaarso School can continue to expand its reach so that even more Somalis can benefit from the opportunities it provides.”

The Abaarso School is a non-profit intermediate and secondary school nurturing the academic, intellectual, and character development of promising Somali boys and girls, so they can effectively and ethically advance their society.

Mary Frances Duffy

The Dilenschneider Group


Cell: 917-854-6580

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