The Open Hands Initiative (OHI) is a US-based 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to improving people-to-people understanding and international friendship through cultural and educational exchanges and other projects that focus on our shared values and common humanity.
Our mission is to promote greater understanding and goodwill between the United States and its global neighbors. We aim to build bridges among people of all nations and dispel misconceptions and misunderstandings. OHI was created in November 2009 by Tracy and Jay T. Snyder. Inspired by U.S. President Barack Obama's pledge to extend an open hand to all to those willing to unclench their fists, Tracy and Jay pledged to create a platform where ordinary citizens could do the same. In particular, they wanted to enhance international cooperation and dialogue between the United States and the Middle East. Since then, OHI has worked in Syria, Egypt, and Jordan, and has extended programming to countries outside the region, such as Myanmar (Burma) and Colombia.
We believe that an open hand of friendship, coupled with meaningful dialogue, is a critical step in establishing trust and goodwill between the people of the world. Our mission is to extend an open hand wherever we go by providing the platforms through which we can engage in open communication and develop mutual understanding. Although based in the United States, we draw our support from the citizens of countries from around the world, and we are committed to enlisting the support and involvement of organizations and individuals who share our vision.
We create innovative platforms of exchange for ordinary people that encourage active listening, open dialogue, and collaboration, and focus on issues that touch on the spheres of our everyday lives: health, social inclusion, freedom of expression, and economic opportunity. We invite curious Americans and local nationals where we work to participate in projects that allow them to learn from one another and work collaboratively together towards a common goal. In doing so, we hope to take what's best about our societies and share it with others to enrich our human experiences and promote international cooperation.
We are proud to be a part of Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), a global network comprised of NGOs, foundations, philanthropists, heads of state, the media, and leaders in the private sector. Through CGI, OHI has pledged two Commitments to Action, first with our "Youth Ability Summit" in Syria and second with our "Fellowship for Young Women Entrepreneurs" in Jordan.
In August 2010, we hosted a Youth Ability Summit in Syria to raise the voices of youths with disabilities and develop strategies to promote their rights. The program consisted of 26 American and Syrian youths with disabilities who worked collaboratively together to develop a guidebook for implementing the U.N. Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and a comic book, the Silver Scorpion, whose protagonist is a cross-cultural superhero with a disability.
In October 2015, we helped amplify the impact of 20 young female entrepreneurs from the United States and Jordan through our Fellowship for Young Women Entrepreneurs. The two week program encompassed entrepreneurial training, mentoring, and a pitch competition with more than $150,000 in grant prizes. Our Commitments can be found on the CGI website.
We actively seek partners — individuals and organizations — from around the world in order to advance our common goals. Please contact us by mail, phone or email to find out more about getting involved.
555 Madison Ave, Ste 1302
New York, NY 10022