Flowering Tree Inc.

Flowering Tree is an international grant-making foundation, based in New York.

Mission
To support women’s development and children’s education in Asia.

Vision
To create sustainable social transformation.

History

Sumita Ambasta and Christopher McLeod founded Flowering Tree in 2006.
The early days of Flowering Tree were spent listening to others in the field, visiting their work, and learning about their goals, achievements, and experiences. We met with over 60 leaders and staff of organizations who shared their journeys, insights, and challenges. We asked about their future plans and their needs. Though we did not bring a preconceived view to these meetings, we were surprised that often the first expressed need for field organizations was not funding, but manpower development and organizational capacity building. This confirmed our view that the quality and capacity of people doing the work was as much as a priority as the available funding. We continue to maintain this understanding.



Philosophy behind Grantmaking and Partnerships.

The history and practice of Philanthropy and Grant making has roots in the idea of charity. Flowering Tree does not ascribe to the charity model of service, even though we do make grants to our partners after careful due diligence. We believe our counterparts are in every way our equals in potential. In the grant-making and charitable model of work, there may be unsaid dynamics of power that influence the process. Funders may sometimes approach the work through the power of material resources, assuming a directive role. Grantees sometimes take the role of moral superiority by virtue of being closer to the field. These errors of mutual recognition affect the ability to listen.

Hence we spent a lot of time studying and formulating the values ( link here) that drive our grant-making process.

Flowering Tree, supported projects both through grants and collaborative design, following a sustainable process ( link here).

Projects and Partners were selected organically, after long term review, as well as in response to the immediate needs of the population served. As needs change, the shape of the project does too.

The first grant was made in 2007. (Link here to Our projects page) In 2011, an Asia office opened in Singapore to offer education programs to international students looking to understand development. The office was closed in 2014 for strategic reasons.

Values

Flowering Tree approaches social and personal situations as inherently organic and interdependent. Therefore, the Flowering Tree Human Development model integrates external institutions and structures with the inner processes and aspirations of each person in a way that nurtures integrated and fulfilled lives.

Listening

Flowering Tree believes in Listening, rather than directing.

Relationships

Listening builds a Relationship of trust that drives effective work.

Transformation

The foundation of the work of Flowering Tree is Transformation of the person, leading to transformation in the community.

Inner and outer Development.

The basis of transformation is Inner and outer Development. Inner development involves invisible, personal understandings and aspirations. Outer development is demonstrated through evidence of achievement and recognition.

Reconciling the Dualities

Flowering Tree is motivated by the challenge of Reconciling the Dualities of Local/Global, Public/Private, Tradition/Modernity, and Female/Male. These polarities form the rich tapestry of our shared contemporary life and have special bearing on human development.

Collaborative Approach

Flowering Tree fosters a Collaborative Approach, embracing partners from all sectors of human enterprise in the shared goals of creating Sustainable Development through helping our partners thrive beyond our support.

Multicultural Participation

Flowering Tree encourages Multicultural Participation where all are welcome to contribute their unique perspectives, voices, and talents.

Sustainable Communities

Flowering Tree supports sustainable communities, whether of indigenous knowledge, ecological practices, and culturally responsive education.

Process

Women and children make up nearly two thirds of any given population. Successful community building cannot take place without their education and development. Flowering Tree seeds and nurtures programs and projects that help women and children discover the path from mere survival to a fulfilled human life.

All Flowering Tree projects are created through grant-making and collaborative design and conceptualization of sustainable change.
Flowering Tree Projects are all created in collaboration with local partners, who are selected through a long term process of review.
Every Flowering Tree project is named after a local Flowering Tree, selected by the local partner. The name of the project is a recognition of local ecology. Our work recognizes the several coexisting worldviews that stand in tension in contemporary life. It seeks practical ways to build bridges that harmoniously connect them. Flowering Tree takes a facilitator’s role - creating projects which are imaginative. Therefore, Flowering Tree process is an organic process of development, built in consultation and collaboration with the people who constitute the community where the project takes place.

About Us

People
Founders and Board members
Sumita Ambasta : Executive Director
Christopher McLeod: Director Operations.

Past Board Members
(Late) Nancy Starr
Lucy Chuah.

Current Board Members
Alice Fricke
Aditi Goswami.

Name and Logo
The name Flowering Tree and the logo came from A 2000 year old oral folktale from South India.

A Flowering Tree: A brief retelling…
In a certain town, the king had two daughters and a son. The older daughter was married.
In the same town, there lived a poor old woman with her two daughters. One day, the younger sister said, “Sister, I want to help mother. I will turn myself into a flowering tree. You can take the flowers and sell them.” Amazed, the older sister nevertheless followed her younger sister’s directions. She brought two pitchers of water without touching them with her fingernails to a tall tree in front of the house.
Read more...

Projects

Flowering tree makes grants towards women’s development and children’s education. Each Flowering Tree project is in collaboration with a local partner, the grantee. It is named after a local flower representing the spirit of the work.



Ongoing Projects

Partner: Light of Life Trust

Location: Mumbai, India
Grants: 2008 to Present


Anant
Children’s education through the arts.

Partner: Light of Life Trust

Location: Mumbai, India
Grants: 2008 to Present

Partner: Manav Sadhna

Location: Ahmedabad, India
Grants: 2009 to Present


Manav Gulzar
Children’s education and women’s development

Partner: Manav Sadhna

Location: Ahmedabad, India
Grants: 2009 to Present

Partner: I-India

Location: Jaipur, India
Grants: 2010 to Present


Shwetaark
Children’s Education and Women’s development

Partner: I-India

Location: Jaipur, India
Grants: 2010 to Present

Partner : Biosphere Foundation

Location: Bali, Indonesia.
Grants: 2015 to present.


Kemboja
Children’s Education.

Partner : Biosphere Foundation

Location: Bali, Indonesia.
Grants: 2015 to present.

Partner: I-India

Location: Jaipur, India
Grants: 2018 to Present


Rohida
Children’s Education.

Partner: I-India

Location: Jaipur, India
Grants: 2018 to Present

Partner: Multiple Action Research Group (MARG)

Location: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, India.
Grants: 2020-


Parijat
Women’s development through legal, financial and health literacies.

Partner: Multiple Action Research Group (MARG)

Location: Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan, Delhi, Gujarat, Maharashtra, India.
Grants: 2020-

Completed Projects

Partner: Multiple Action Research Group (MARG)

Location: Haryana, Delhi, India
Grants: 2007 to 2020.


Harshingar
Women’s development through legal literacy

Partner: Multiple Action Research Group

Location: Haryana, Delhi, India
Grants: 2007 to 2020.

Partner: Sparrow

Location: Mumbai, India
Grants: 2010 – 2012


Coral Jasmine
Women’s development through oral histories.

Partner: Sparrow

Location: Mumbai, India
Grants: 2010 – 2012

Partner: St. Josephs Convent

Location: Chandannagar, India
Grants made: 2011-2012


Flame of Love

Partner: St. Josephs Convent

Location: Chandannagar, India
Grants made: 2011-2012