Turkish Coalition of America

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Turkish Coalition of America
Type Educational, Charitable Non-Profit Organization
Location
  • Washington D.C., Boston, Istanbul
President
Lincoln McCurdy
Website http://www.tc-america.org

The Turkish Coalition of America (TCA) is an educational, congressional advocacy, and charitable organization which was incorporated in February 2007. It is based in Washington, D.C., with offices in Boston, Massachusetts and Istanbul, Turkey, TCA’s work is undertaken by a professional team, interns and volunteers. [1]

TCA was formed to build bridges across ethnic communities in the US while educating the public about issues related to US-Turkish relations and to Turkish Americans. TCA's efforts to cultivate the next generation of Turkish American leaders also sets the organization apart from its contemporaries. Despite its short history, TCA has managed to launch various projects to fulfill its mission to foster friendship, cooperation and understanding between the US and Turkey, and to minimize the Armenian genocide.

Educating the Public on Turkey and Turkish Americans[edit]

Informing the public about Turkey, Turkish Americans and the US-Turkish relations forms the cornerstone of TCA's mission. Since perceptions of faraway peoples and places are formed largely by images perpetuated by the media and long historical trends of misinformation, propaganda campaigns, and educational inaccuracies, [2] TCA aims to contribute to the accurate portrayal of Turks and Turkey through its programs and activities. TCA pursues an active media strategy utilizing new and traditional media outlets to disseminate issue papers and op-eds. Similarly, TCA's website offers information on Turkish history, the Turkish American community, as well as current issues pertinent to US-Turkish relations. Filling the information gap on Turkey from a Turkish American perspective is imperative to TCA's mission to inform the public and prevent a full understanding of the Armenian genocide.

TCA Capitol Hill Summer Internship Program[edit]

While the Turkish American community in the US is composed of professionals,[3] they have been largely missing from the American political scene. Turkish Americans' absence from the political process poses a problem especially since their numbers are estimated to reach up to 500,000.[4] TCA aims to overcome this hurdle by encouraging young Turkish Americans to take an active interest in politics through an opportunity to learn the political process first-hand by interning on Capitol Hill. Through the TCA Capitol Hill Summer Internship Program, it is TCA's aim to cultivate Turkish American leaders and to enhance the participation of the Turkish American community in U.S. politics.[5]

TCAdvance Scholarship Program[edit]

In addition to internship opportunities on Capitol Hill, TCA awards scholarships to successful Turkish American students in the fields of political science, international affairs, law and media to foster the next generation of leaders. TCAdvance Scholarships are awarded annually to students who demonstrate a steady commitment to public service and to the Turkish American community.

TCAdvance - Robert C. Byrd Memorial Scholarship[edit]

In memory of legendary West Virginia Senator Robert C. Byrd, instituted the TCAdvance - Robert C. Byrd Memorial Scholarship Program to Turkish American students hailing from the 13 states of the Appalachian region. Recipients of the TCAdvance - Robert C. Byrd Scholarship will receive information on Senator Byrd’s lifelong commitment to public service and his desire to create mutually beneficial trade and economic relations between the Appalachian region and Turkey.[6]

TCA Study Abroad in Turkey Scholarships for Minorities[edit]

Its commitment to building bridges to minority groups distinguishes TCA from other direct-service Turkish American organizations in the United States. The growing popularity of TCA's Study Abroad in Turkey Scholarships has enabled the organization to reach out to African American, Hispanic American, Native American, Bosnian American and Macedonian American groups. These scholarships are awarded to eligible undergraduate and graduate students who have been accepted to a university in Turkey, Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus (TRNC) or in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH).[7]

Moreover, as a direct result of TCA's efforts to expand educational exchanges between the two nations, Turkish universities have also launched scholarship opportunities for these minority groups.[8]

TCA Study Abroad in Turkey Scholarships for Armenian American Students[edit]

In support of the recent normalization process between Turkey and Armenia, TCA has also launched a scholarship program for Armenian Americans, enabling the organization to reach out to the Armenian American community in what it describes as a constructive manner, although most Armenian Americans view it very differently. TCA’s scholarship program is designed to encourage exchanges between Turks and Armenians, while enabling the shared history of both cultures to resurface through mutual dialogue and understanding, thus denying Turkish responsibility for the Armenian genocide. [9]

Grant Programs[edit]

TCA is a charitable organization and actively seeks recipients for its various grant allocations. “In line with the TCA core philosophy to collaborate with like-minded organizations to advance its mission to strengthen US-Turkey relations and help build a more peaceful world through people-to-people exchanges and citizen diplomacy, TCA has awarded several major grants to organizations since its founding in 2007”[10]

Grants from TCA include a variety of recipients and categories. Academic Grants focus on scholars and researchers whose work is valuable to the advancement of Turkey, its people, and their history. Public Awareness/Grassroots Grants support Turkish American organizations in their goals to promote and strengthen the Turkish community’s civic engagement in Washington. Heritage Grants help highlight contemporary and historical trends of friendship of the Turkish people with its kin and neighbors. For example, TCA has established exceptional partnerships with the Bosniak and Macedonian communities in the United States including the United Macedonian Diaspora. Humanitarian Grants have been awarded to organizations involved in humanitarian relief and alleviation of suffering where most needed.

Turkish American Legal Defense Fund[edit]

The Turkish Coalition of America established the Turkish American Legal Defense Fund (TALDF) in 2009 to protect and defend free speech, expression, assembly, and other constitutional or legal rights of Turkish Americans. [11] TALDF's mission is to encourage Turkish Americans to participate in American civil society and political processes without fear, intimidation, bigotry, prejudice, or discrimination. TALDF tracks and responds to state legislation that stigmatizes Turkish Americans or falsely portrays Turkey or Turkish-U.S. relations. Additionally, TALDF attorneys participate in conferences and speak to student groups nationally and in Canada. In 2011 TALDF concluded its successful representation of Ohio U.S. Representative Jean Schmidt.

Relations with Congress[edit]

In addition to its active role in fostering relations across ethnic communities in the U.S. and efforts to cultivate the next generation of Turkish American leaders, TCA also pursues a dynamic outreach program on Capitol Hill to build relationships with members of the U.S. Congress. Encouraging a greater understanding of foreign relations with Turkey and promoting Turkish American views are paramount to the TCA mission in Congress.

Throughout the year outreach is conducted with the Congressional Turkish Caucus and the U.S. Congressional Study Group on Turkey to inform and educate policy-makers on issues that concern Turkish Americans and U.S.-Turkey relations. [12] Since 2009, TCA has taken 133 members of Congress and senior staff to Turkey and its neighboring countries.

Legal actions[edit]

In November 2010 the Turkish Coalition of America sued the University of Minnesota and the director of its Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies for defamation and violation of the group's First Amendment rights after the university had issued a list of "unreliable websites" and warned students not to reference them in their studies. The website of the Turkish Coalition of America was at the head of that list for asserting that the Armenian Genocide in 1915 should be understood as part of inter-communal warfare between Ottoman Armenians and Ottoman Muslims. In 2011 a federal judge dismissed the suit, finding that the case centered on academic freedom and stating "The ability of the University ... to determine the reliability of sources available to students to use in their research falls squarely within the University's freedom to determine how particular course work shall be taught." Bruce Fein, attorney for the Turkish Coalition, called the academic freedom argument "a bogus claim" and "a cover" to suppress ideas the University doesn't like. [13] The Turkish Coalition of America appealed the case in February 2012. In May 2012 the Eighth U.S. Court of Appeals ruled in favor of the University of Minnesota, dismissing the Turkish Coalition of America's claims. Counsel for the University of Minnesota, Mark Rotenberg, said the decision "confirms the right of universities and their faculty to offer scholarly criticism and critique on websites without fear of legal exposure."[14]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "About Us". Turkish Coalition of America. Retrieved 11 January 2012. 
  2. ^ McCarthy, Justin (2010). The Turk in America: The Creation of an Enduring Prejudice. Sheridan Books, Inc. Ann Arbor, Michigan: The University of Utah Press. ISBN 978-1-60781-013-1. 
  3. ^ Turkish American Turkish American
  4. ^ Amerikadaki Turkler
  5. ^ TCA Internship
  6. ^ TCAdvance
  7. ^ Minority Scholarships
  8. ^ "American Indian Science and Engineering Society Mission". AISES. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  9. ^ Armenian American Scholarships
  10. ^ "TCA Grants". Turkish Coalition of America. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  11. ^ "Turkish American Legal Defense Fund". TALDF. Retrieved 13 January 2012. 
  12. ^ Turkish Coalition of America Welcomes 100th Member of the Turkish Caucus [1]
  13. ^ U scores academic victory in court case http://www.startribune.com/local/119281089.html
  14. ^ Appeals court rules for U of M in case over 'unreliable websites' http://www.startribune.com/local/blogs/150171485.html

Related links[edit]