Posted on February. 17. 2020

After over 25 years of humanitarian activities, JNF continues to receive many accolades and expressions of appreciation and gratitude.

Several years ago, Archpriest Father Vertanes Kalayjian, Pastor Emeritus of St. Mary Armenian Church in Washington, DC, wrote an article entitled “Another Point of Light.” The light that Der Hayr was referring to was the Other Point of Light that had been shining over the darkest horizons of Armenia.  Der Hayr wrote, “Simply put, there are those among us, who are very few, who have been undeterred in their commitment to continue to light a candle instead of cursing the darkness. I’m referring to the quietly and steadily functioning JNF, the foundation named after its primary and sole benefactor, Jirair Nishanian of Vienna, VA.”

Recently Dr. Takvor Nishanian, Vice President and Treasurer of JNF, reported to a packed audience gathered to honor Dr. Taner Akçam about the origins of the Foundation.

Dr. Nishanian said, “My father established this Foundation because of a strong sense of duty to his homeland, instilled in him by his parents’ past. Both were survivors of the Armenian Genocide. His father died when he was a child, so his mother raised him and four older siblings by herself. Her love of the Armenian culture- her Armenian identity- was passed down to all of her children; and it is through her, that my father ultimately decided to establish his foundation.”

“The overall mission of JNF is very simple: to facilitate an opportunity for underprivileged, talented Armenian students to attain higher education in various disciplines, and achieve their inherent potentials and, in turn, contribute to the welfare of their motherland and future generations. By doing so, they preserve their Armenian heritage and build a strong generation of Armenians, armed with higher education.”

“Through a collaboration with FAR (Fund for Armenian Relief), our Foundation provides college scholarships for approximately 60 students annually. We have focused on one of the more needy regions of Armenia, Gavar – providing scholarships for students attending Gavar State University. More recently, we have expanded our program to include graduate students at the National University of Architecture and Construction of Armenia in Yerevan.” 

“In addition, the Foundation has renovated portions of Gavar State University. Finally, our Foundation is committed to supporting the translation and publication of literary projects towards the advancement of Armenian education and cultural issues, including those written about the Armenian Genocide. Many of these written documents about the Armenian Genocide originated with Dr. Taner Akçam.”

Previously we have reported success stories of our graduates.  FAR’s Executive Director, Garnik Nanagoulian proudly proclaims, “Scholarships Can Change Lives.”  The following is FAR’s report about one very accomplished JFN Scholarship recipient whose life has truly been changed.:

Silva Karapetyan, 24, earned her bachelor’s degree in design from the Armenian National University of Architecture and Construction in 2018. Her studies were made possible through FAR’s Jerair Nishanian Scholarship Program.

“Jerair Nishanian is a unique person in my heart and in my memory. I won’t ever forget him,” said Silva. “My university life began thanks to Jerair Nishanian’s generous support. It was filled with many happy moments.”

Silva is pleased with her achievements, as well as with the knowledge and skills she acquired over the course of four years at college. During her senior year, she decided to design the interior of an apartment for physically disabled people consisting of nonstandard elements like convertible tables, beds and sofas. “I passed all my exams in May, then defended my thesis and got an excellent score. With high aspirations, I entered the next phase,” she recollected.

In 2017, Silva landed her first job as interior architect and designer at Unicus NTS. ‘The company provides clients with an opportunity to experience their future apartments in 3D; they can ‘walk in’ and enjoy future comfort. They can even open and close the doors of their rooms,’ Silva said.

A few months later, Silva, who was searching for a higher salary, decided to also plunge herself into graphic design and marketing. Since March 2018, she has been working as a constructor-designer at GAT cutting which is specialized in internal graphic design, construction and installation, large format printing, laser and fraser cuts, and 3D engraving. Silva has engrossed herself in this business and does her best to enrich her skills and develop new projects.

Silva tries to absorb everything around her; she likes reading, music and dance, which are all built into her daily routine. “Recently, I realized that I am good at writing poems. Now, I’m thinking about writing a series of poems,” she said.

Like many of our scholars, Silva is full of dreams and motivation, which will undoubtedly lead her to future success.” 


Jerair Nishanian and his wife Anahid have committed to make a difference in the lives of underprivileged children and their families. Indeed, they have touched hundreds of families over the years: giving them power to grow; giving them hope and inspiration; and creating a lifeline for their future.

Here is a letter from a scholarship recipient in appreciation for the aid she received from JNF’s Scholarship Program.

“Dear Mr. Nishanian, It was in a great awe that I read your biography! At the end each and every paragraph, I made important discoveries about the paths of your life, and gleaned life-lessons for myself. I realized what it means to have willpower and overcome challenges. I also realized the importance of hard work in achieving great goals. You teach many of us lessons of kindness and care, and thereby prove that education is the most important priority for the Armenian nation. By means of your care, you provide us with keys that will enable us to open many doors and fulfill our dreams.

I promise to be one of the best students by my tireless learning and thus justify your hopes. Your support is quite decisive for my family and myself. Not everyone gets to receive such a material aid and, therefore, I express my gratefulness for your trust, and confidently say that, in my studies, I will be purpose-driven and make the efforts to learn all it takes to be professional and contribute to the development of the Armenian architecture.” – by Lucine, first-year scholarship student at National University of Architecture and Construction, Yerevan, Armenia

Jerair Nishanian, the philanthropist, in addition to the far-reaching educational programs centered in Armenia, has extended his generosity to many other worthy causes. He was one of 6 people who, in 2015, donated $100,000 each to organize the commemoration in Washington, DC of the 100th Anniversary of the Armenian Genocide.  He also helped renovate the Central Altar of St. Mary’s Armenian Church in Washington, DC.  JNF supports and sponsors churches, various organizations, and Armenian cultural and historical events. One proposed project that JNF’s Board of Trustees is considering, following the strong recommendation of Mr. Nishanian, is to institute seminars, lectures/course in Gavar University on Ethics.  We strongly feel this is important to help strengthen the character of our graduates as they enter the business world.

A BIG SHOW OF GRATITUDE: Below is a letter by Rector of Gavar State University (GSU).



On behalf of the professors, administrative staff, students and their parents of the Gavor State University, patriotic son of the Armenian nation, great philanthropist  Mr. Jirayr Nishanian and to the Nishanian family for providing students of the University with much needed material and moral support and access to higher professional education.

In addition to their tuitions and scholarship awards, we thank Mr. and Mrs. Jerair and Anahit Nishanian for providing the students of the GSU also with financial awards before the New Year.

We warmly congratulate the honorable philanthropists on the occasions of New Year and Christmas, wish you good health, success, unimpeded implementation of all programs and goals, and all the best.

Thrice are blessed Jerair, Anahid, Takvor Nishanian and all members of the Nishanian family, who are guided by the Tekeyan formula: “What is left for me from life? Only that, what I gave to others…” – Ruzanna Hakobyan, GSU Rector

In conclusion, we pray for Mr. and Mrs. Jerair Nishanian and their longevity and good health.

Diramayr Anahid,

JNF Board Member

Washington, DC

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