The development of the McConnell International Programs:

Humanity United produced this 15-minute interview on The McConnell Foundation’s international programs in 2016.  Learn about our development and philosophy with this interview of former CEO and President, Lee Salter, and Vice President of Operations, Shannon Phillips.

Study Abroad!

The McConnell Foundation Study Abroad in Laos Fellowship: 2017.

The McConnell Foundation is sponsoring a delegation from Shasta County to participate in the 2017 Summer Study Abroad in Laos (SAIL) program, a five-week cultural emersion study program hosted by the Lao-American College in Vientiane, Lao PDR.

The SAIL program is offered annually by the Center for Lao Studies, a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco.  The McConnell Foundation is offering sponsorship for a select number of youth applicants from Shasta County in order to:

  • Increase our local community’s awareness of the diverse cultures of peoples from Laos;
  • Provide a mechanism for descendants of refugees from Laos to learn their heritage and the stories of their elders;
  • And to help preserve the language and culture of the Lao diaspora and minority ethnic groups of Laos.

Selected Fellows will receive full scholarship for the SAIL program tuition and a stipend for travel expenses.

This Fellowship is targeting heritage students – descendants of refugees from Laos – but anyone with passion and commitment to learn Lao language, history, and culture, is encouraged to apply.

Qualifying applicants must:

  • Be of or between the ages of 16 – 22
  • Be a resident of Shasta County (those living elsewhere but whose parents live in Shasta County are eligible)
  • Submit your application before the deadline of February 27th

Embark in the life changing experience of cultural immersion in Laos!


Visit the Center for Lao Studies SAIL program site for more details on the 5-week cultural immersion program HERE.

Visit Laos Vicariously…

Through the interviews, videos, and personal blogs of The McConnell Foundation Study Abroad in Laos (SAIL) Fellows who participated in the 2016 Center for Lao Studies program.

Enjoy these videos and scroll down to the Blog section to see the participant’s writings about their experience
Redding citizens interviewed on their experience as refugees of the Secret War in Laos
Veterans of the Secret War in Laos receive official recognition and thanks for their service at the Redding 2017 Memorial Day service
News in Laos Parody Video Produced by 2016 SAIL Students
 Enjoy Radio KLXR 1230 AM Radio Interview produced by Lynn Fritz


The Foundation’s international grantmaking program began in Nepal in 1999.  During the initial years, the Foundation invested in projects related to rural development, community schools, and countering domestic violence.

As an internal insurgency gained strength across Nepal in 2003, the Foundation’s focus shifted to supporting peace and conflict transformation efforts. The Foundation funded a decade-long peacebuilding initiative guided by a volunteer steering committee of Nepali citizens. Those projects continue, run by Nepali organizations. The projects support community-level justice mechanisms, build leadership capacity of marginalized people and local civil organizations, and foster inclusivity.

The long-term accompaniment funding model allows our grant partners to perfect the project over years, fine-tuning the implementation into successful place-based initiatives that are enduring and empower the participants at all levels of the work.

A Decade of Peacebuilding

MJohn Paul Lederach’s new book chronicles a decade of peacebuilding work with The McConnell Foundation in Nepal.


Reflections from a seasoned peacebuilder on a decade engagement with nonviolent social change in Nepal as the country navigated war and peace. Lederach, well known for his practical and theoretical contributions to the fields of peace studies and conflict transformation, opens up toward a personal exploration of his accompaniment of philanthropy and system’s change with local Nepali communities focused on natural resource conflicts, rural women’s empowerment, and community mediation. Written as a memoir, the book follows the story of The McConnell Foundation’s decade pledge to peacebuilding in Nepal that began in the midst of a civil war.


Mar. 18, 2013; Prof. John Paul Lederach teaching Kroc Institute graduate students...Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre DameThe author walks through key decision points faced by emergent philanthropy and provides an overview of the insights into a system’s approach to social change using primarily methods of sustained participatory action research. Among the few international theorists and practitioners with access to deep community processes and national political dialogue, Lederach provides insight into the dilemmas and lessons from sustained peacebuilding engagement. The Memoir comes to life with photography, biographical profiles and stories of local colleagues addressing the deep and pressing issues of social conflict.

This book is available in a beautiful hardcover, paperback, or e-reader format.  Follow this link to preview the book and purchase a copy of your own.  It is powerful inspiration for the peacebuilder, traveler, and humanitarian in every person.


Natural Resource Conflict Transformation Project
Rural Women’s Leadership Development Project
Building the Network of Women Journalists in Nepal
Community Mediation Project

“The McConnell peacebuilding program in Nepal promotes a peace culture built on respect for diversity, rights, and nonviolent response to conflict. The Foundation supports innovative and inclusive peacebuilding activities that increase dialogue and participation at all levels of Nepali society.”


In 2006 the Foundation’s board of directors decided to expand the international program to an additional country.  After in-depth exploration of several nations in Africa, Central and South America, and Southeast Asia, the decision was made to fund in the Lao People’s Democratic Republic.

As 80% of Lao citizens depend directly on natural surface water sources for their livelihood and sustenance, the Foundation supports community-based water quality projects that assist communities to identify and reduce local pollutants, increase and manage fish stock, and create healthy stream habitat.

The Foundation’s access to justice work in Laos supports the Lao Ministry of Justice and the Lao Bar Association in improving justice systems for all citizens via legal aid clinics, Village Mediation Units, and law dissemination in rural communities.


Access to Justice Project
Community-Based Water Resource Management Project

Note to Colleagues and Grantseekers

The McConnell Foundation does not accept applications for international grants. However, we appreciate collegial exchanges of knowledge, lessons learned, and being appraised of the work others are doing in our fields of interest. If you are working in Nepal or Laos and have an interest in communicating with us, please contact Jesica Rhone at (530) 226-6223 or by using the email contact form.


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