The Challenge

Armed conflict, poverty, and discrimination have displaced millions of youth, especially in the Middle East and North Africa region, denying them the opportunities they need to pursue meaningful education and lift themselves out of difficult circumstances. These youth have had their education interrupted or languish in poor education systems that fail to prepare them for the future. Refugee youth, in particular, face steep challenges.

Only 22% of refugee youth are enrolled in secondary school, compared to the global average of 84%

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Only 49% of youth worldwide complete secondary education 

Only 1% of refugees attend university, compared to the global average of 34%

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The volume of university scholarships funded by aid programs has been stagnant since 2010

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To meet even the most basic educational needs of youth in crises would require educational development aid to increase 10 times over

Many refugee youth experience disrupted development, higher rates of trauma, and social alienation. Educational and psychosocial support can help refugee youth overcome these challenges during displacement. 


Our Response

We believe that education is the equalizer in the fight against inequality. A meaningful education provides youth and their families with opportunities for the future, and perhaps most critically, hope. By focusing on increasing the educational opportunities available to youth and building their resilience through programs that provide social and emotional learning, the Catalyst Foundation is committed to opening doors for marginalized youth, giving them the chance to overcome their disadvantages and build a meaningful future for themselves.

The Catalyst Foundation focuses its funding in two main areas, concentrating primarily on helping youth in the MENA region. We fund programming that provides talented youth with pathways to higher education, and we fund educational enrichment programming outside of formal school that provides opportunities for social and emotional learning.

 Among the programs we fund, our grantees are providing direct scholarships for secondary and higher education, developing innovative online programs to reach thousands of students, and running a range of high-touch programs for refugee youth in sports, arts, music, and other areas.