The Tibet Fund’s primary mission is to preserve the distinct cultural and national identity of the Tibetan people. Our aim is to promote self-reliance and help sustain the cohesiveness of the exile Tibetan community.
As the primary funding organization, we have worked closely with the Central Tibetan Administration in advancing education, refugee rehabilitation, religious and cultural preservation, and community development for more than 140,000 Tibetan refugees living in India, Nepal and Bhutan.
In Tibet, our support is directed to orphanages, eye care and other health programs and educational projects that aid impoverished and marginalized Tibetans.
Please visit publications section for more information on our annual reports.
The Tibet Fund was founded in 1981 at a time when the international community had seemingly forgotten the plight of the Tibetan people. In the early years of exile since 1959, survival of Tibetan refugees depended on the generosity of the governments of India, Nepal, Bhutan, the UN High Commission for Refugees, foreign donor agencies, and the faith and resilience of the refugees themselves.
In the 1970s, humanitarian assistance began to decline. It was during such a critical time in exile Tibetan history that a small group of US citizens and Tibetan immigrants living in the United States established The Tibet Fund. When His Holiness the Dalai Lama won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1989, the plight of the Tibetan people gained worldwide attention. The Tibet Fund thereafter grew rapidly, building institutional relationships with foundations, government agencies and individual donors to help the Tibetan community.
The most significant support came from the US State Department when they began to fund Tibetan Scholarship Program in 1988 bringing more than 460 Tibetans to the United States for graduate-level studies; congressionally mandated Humanitarian Assistance Grant in 1991 rehabilitating nearly 100,000 Tibetan refugees and supporting their healthcare, education programs and refugee reception centers in Kathmandu, Delhi and Dharamsala; Ngawang Choephel Fellowship Program in 1998 bringing 96 Tibetan students from Tibet to study in the US; Internet Freedom Project to enhance CTA’s cyber security; Tibetan Education Program in 2012 to strengthen exile Tibetan education; Tibetan Health System Capacity Strengthening Project in 2014 to achieve universal health coverage and health services for Tibetans; Nepal Earthquake Relief Program in 2015 to rebuild earthquake affected Tibetan community in Nepal; and USAID program for Tibetan Self-Reliance and Resilience in 2016.
Over the past 40 years, The Tibet Fund has administered the US federal grants and worked closely with the CTA to address the overall needs of a refugee Tibetan community in India, Nepal, and Bhutan. In addition to the federal grants, The Tibet Fund has been able to raise several million dollars from family foundations and individual donors to support various projects including infrastructure development, cultural preservation, sponsorship and blue book project through which non-Tibetans could support the Tibetan people.
In 1994, The Tibet Fund initiated a program to address the unmet medical, educational and economic needs of Tibetans in Tibet. In 1998, the US State Department’s Office of Citizen Exchanges began funding the Ngawang Choephel Fellowship Program, which enabled The Tibet Fund to bring scholars and professionals from Tibet for educational and cultural exchange, and to develop educational programs in Tibet. We support eye-care programs and several orphanages in Tibet and also established a Higher Education Scholarship for deserving students.
The arrival of thousands of refugees each year is placing a severe strain on the existing settlement system. The Tibet Fund will continue to focus its efforts on strengthening the exile community, for it is here that Tibetan culture and national identity are being sustained.
The story of The Tibet Fund is the story of the Tibetan people’s perseverance and resourcefulness through decades of upheaval and exile. It is the story of survival and the preservation of culture and national identity. It is also a story that many of our generous donors have helped to create.
Since 1959, more than 140,000 Tibetans have fled their homeland to take refuge in India, Nepal and around the world. Under the leadership of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration, Tibetans have forged new democratic institutions and built settlements where Tibet’s religious and cultural traditions are kept alive and Tibetans are sustained as a people until our goal of returning to Tibet is achieved.
For more than 40 years, The Tibet Fund has played a vital role in sustaining and strengthening the refugee community. By supporting a wide range of vitally important programs and services, the Tibet Fund has had a tremendous impact on the well-being of individual Tibetans, from newly arrived children suffering frostbite from their passage through the mountains to elderly refugees contending with illness and homelessness.
The two-headed bird is a traditional motif in Tibetan thankas (religious paintings), symbolizing the Great Scholar Translators of Tibet’s early history. These scholar/translators, adept in two languages, laid the foundation for Tibetan Buddhism by translating religious texts from Sanskrit and other languages into Tibetan. We have chosen this motif as a symbol for The Tibet Fund’s mission of preserving Tibet’s unique culture and religion. The color green is the auspicious birth color of His Holiness the Dalai Lama who is our Honorary Patron and who has guided our efforts. The design was created by Mr. Losang Gyatso.