The Niagara Foundation was founded in 2004 by a group of Turkish-American businessmen and educators in order to realize the vision of their spiritual leader, Fethullah Gulen, himself a Turkish Muslim scholar and poet, as well as an educational and humanitarian activist. Today the Niagara Foundation is active in nine Midwestern states with 22 branches.
The founders of the Niagara Foundation envisioned an institution that could bring together people from all walks of life in order to celebrate diversity in a shared society. They named the organization after Niagara Falls, where two great lakes become more magnificent together than they could be separately.
The Niagara Foundation employs the Niagara Falls as a metaphor to underline the importance of the cooperation and understanding among diverse groups of people. We may be separated by ethnicity, religion, race and color, but we all experience both happiness and sorrow, as we are all human beings. As a part of the diverse, global Hizmet or “Gulen” movement, the Niagara Foundation’s mission is to foster civic conversations and sustained relationships between people of different cultures and faiths.
The Niagara Foundation organizes forums, dinners, conferences, lectures, community service, and intercultural trips to fulfill its core values of hospitality, enrichment, and leadership.
What was, in 2004, a very small organization dedicated solely to the pursuit of educational enrichment, has flourished under the dedicated staff, from CEO and President down to the volunteers of the Niagara Foundation. In 2012, The Niagara Foundation in Chicago created three distinct centers that exemplify all the ways in which the organization reaches out to unique communities.
The Center for Public and Global Affairs reaches out to public officials, as well as civic and business leaders active in the community. The Center for Cultural Exchange and Interfaith Collaboration hosts interfaith gatherings and intercultural trips to Turkey. The Center for Academic Affairs works in collaboration with universities to involve the academic community in the conversations Niagara facilitates.
The three centers combine to make up the whole of the Niagara Foundation, which has grown into an organization known for its hospitality, educational enrichment, and recognition of its network of local and global leaders.