The John D Gerhart Center

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The John D. Gerhart Center For Philanthropy and Civic Engagement was officially opened in 2006 by Dr. Barbara Ibrahim, and was mainly dedicated to conducting research in the MENA region and promoting civic engagement through various different projects within that region. It initially began as the brainchild of the late Dr. John D. Gerhart, former president of AUC, who sadly passed away before he could see the realization of his project. However, Dr. Barbara Ibrahim chose to continue with Dr. Gerhart's legacy, and took the project proposal forward and gave breath to his idea.
The Gerhart Center is currently involved it various different projects all of which focus, in one way or another, on conducting research in the region, promoting civic engagement, and mapping philanthropic initiatives and civic engagement groups or civil societies. The Gerhart Center is also involved with capacity building, specifically in relation to grant-making foundations as well as grant-receiving organizations. In addition, there is also a focus on university-based civic engagement, wherein there are several programs dedicated to community-based learning, through which students work with professors in partnership with communities and/or groups through a process of reciprocal learning, whereby the students can share their expertise/experience with the community, and in turn they can build on their experience in the field.
One such program is the Ma'an program, which consists of an alliance between several universities in the Arab world which promote civic engagement through the Regional Program as well as the Student Leaders for Service program. The Regional Program is involved in training different universities on service and community learning as well as promoting civic engagement. The Student Leaders for Service Program grants scholarships to 4 or 5 students annually who receive training in leadership and service, and work at the Gerhart Center on development Programs.
Another program which the Gerhart Center hosts is the Moataz Al Alfi Award for social entrepreneurship. Its goals are to strengthen the corporate sectors social responsibility, and it achieves this through its Corporate Sustainability Program, which focuses on capacity building for corporate groups and enhances social responsibility, as well as mapping case studies for companies working to build communities.
The Gerhart Center also works on enhancing youth civic engagement in different countries in the region, and through it's LEAD On Program, 3 scholarship students from the AUC LEAD Program are sponsord to works in a non-profit organisation within the governorates from which they originate.
On a different note, online and digital media plays a very large role for the Gerhart Center, although perhaps not as big a role as many people would like it to play. The Gerhart Center has a website which contains some information about the center. However, as much information as it provides, there is also a lot of information missing, and a lot of discrepancy between the online coverage of the various different projects and aspects in the Gerhart Center. Nonetheless, digital media has a very high priority for the center's interactions with other organisations, and the website provides a very large degree of the exposure which the center gets outside the bounds of the university. Yet, while most of the organisations which the Gerhart Center interacts with are aware of their web presence, most of the information obtained about them comes from elsewhere; which is not to say that online presence is not a priority for them. Rather, there seems to be a consensus on the importance of the role that web presence plays for the Gerhart Center, and hence for the need to build up this web presence.
Moreover, much of the communication which occurs between the groups with which the center interacts occurs on a digital basis. At the present moment, the center is working on building their webpage more comprehensively, as they feel that this would alleviate from the pressure of having to answer questions personally by allowing easily accessible information to anyone who is interested in the Gerhart Center's work. Hence it is the case that the center is in the process of catching up with the fast-developing world of digital media due to their recognition of the important role it plays in today's society. Moreover, the Gerhart Center's events are frequently announced and advertised on Facebook, and more importantly, online media facilitates the entire research and contacting process which plays such a large role in the center's mission, a phenomenon which one can only predict will be amplified in the near future.

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