President Berge Setrakian
Founded 15 April 1906
Founder Boghos Nubar
Budget 36 million USD (annual)
|Formation April 15, 1906 (1906-04-15)|
Official language Armenian, English, French, Spanish
Headquarters New York City, New York, United States
Type Non-governmental organization
Similar Armenian National Committe, Armenia Tree Project, Armenian National Institute, Children of Armenia Fund, Fund for Armenian Relief
The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU, Armenian: Հայկական Բարեգործական Ընդհանուր Միություն, ՀԲԸՄ, Haykakan Baregortsakan Endhanur Miutyun) is a non-profit Armenian organization established in Cairo, Egypt in 1906. With the onset of World War II, headquarters were moved to New York City, New York.
- Centers chapters and offices
- Youth and culture
- Sayat Nova International Composition Competition
With an annual international budget of over $36 million, AGBU preserves and promotes the Armenian identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs, annually serving some 400,000 Armenians in 35 countries. In 2006, the AGBU celebrated its centenary in its headquarters in New York City. The Armenian General Benevolent Union (AGBU) was founded on April 15, 1906, in Cairo, Egypt, by the initiative of renowned national figure Boghos Nubar and other prominent representatives of the Egyptian-Armenian community to contribute to the spiritual and cultural development of the Armenian people.
The goal was to establish a union that would in every way assist the Armenian people, the future of which, as a minority in the Ottoman Empire, was endangered.
Between 1906 and 1912, the AGBU provided the villagers of the Western Armenia with seeds, agricultural instruments, etc. It established schools and orphanages in Western Armenia, Cilicia and other Armenian-populated regions of the Ottoman Empire. In 1914, AGBU had 142 branches in Western Armenia, Cilicia, USA, Argentina, Europe and Africa with 8,533 members.
The First World War and the Armenian Genocide were turning points for both the Armenian nation and the AGBU. In 1914, Boghos Nubar left Egypt and moved to Paris. Despite the huge losses in different chapters of the union, the AGBU managed to render tangible help to the Genocide survivors. In October 1915, the Sisvan school with 1,222 students, later an orphanage and a camp for women refugees, was established by the AGBU in the desert near Port Said, Egypt. This camp is where survivors of Musa Dagh settled. In the years following the Genocide, the AGBU became mainly involved in taking care of orphans. After the war, the AGBU was reformed and founded new branches in Armenian-populated regions of the Near East, Greece, France and USA.
In 1921, the union’s headquarters was moved from Cairo to Paris. After World War I, the main goal of the AGBU was to preserve and promote Armenian language, identity and heritage through educational, cultural and humanitarian programs. In 1926, AGBU established the Melkonian Educational Institution in Nicosia, Cyprus, Nubarian foundation, which provided scholarships to Armenian youngsters to study in European universities, and the Marie Nubar Dormitory in Paris in 1930.
After the death of Boghos Nubar in 1930, oil magnate and prominent Armenian figure Galust Gyulbenkian took over the presidency of AGBU. After heading the union for two years, the son of the former, Zareh Bey Nubar, replaced him and headed the union until 1940.
During World War II, the AGBU headquarters was moved from Paris to New York as a result of Nazi occupation. In 1942, Arshak Karagyozian became the fourth president of the AGBU.
The AGBU's activities aimed at national preservation became more effective during the post-war period, especially in Alex Manoogian’s tenure between 1953–1989. The AGBU expanded and became the biggest and most influential Diaspora-Armenian organization in the world. In 1954 Alex Manoogian founded the ՚՚"Alex and Marie Manoogian" cultural fund; in 1968 he established the "Alex Manoogian" cultural fund. Through these funds, a number of educational and other establishments were built over the next several years.
Today, the AGBU has chapters in 80 cities in 22 countries around the world, with 22,000 members, 120 branches, 27 cultural centers spread worldwide in the USA, Europe, Near East, South America and Australia. The AGBU has 20 schools (6,600 students) and funds more than 16 educational establishments. The AGBU has two libraries, one in Paris and the other in New York City.
In 1989, Louise Manoogian Simone, the daughter of Alex Manoogian, became the president of the AGBU. It gave a new breath to the strengthening of ties between the Armenians of Armenia and Diaspora. In 1988, immediately following the Spitak earthquake, the AGBU organized the transportation of food, clothes, and medicine to the disaster zone. In 1990, the AGBU opened a representative office in Yerevan. Restarting its activities in Armenia after a 50-year interval, along with humanitarian assistance, the AGBU carries out projects aimed at and contributing to the development of the country.
In 1995, the AGBU founded the first Young Professionals (YP) Group in Los Angeles; today, there are 27 YP Groups and Partners worldwide. For more information, visit www.agbu.org/yp.
Since 2002 Berge Setrakian is the president of AGBU. Having been an active member of AGBU structures since his early youth, he continues this patriotic mission, which started a century ago.
Centers, chapters and offices
AGBU operates 18 day schools and 15 Saturday (one-day) schools. Some of the important schools run by the AGBU include:
The Union has funded a number of benevolent causes, including supporting the Lord Byron School, which was donated by the British government following the earthquake in Armenia in 1988. The school has continued to twin with the Holgate School in Nottingham.
Youth and culture
Through its extensive global network of 75 chapters, young professionals groups, centers and offices, the organization sponsors numerous worthwhile cultural and humanitarian programs, including children's centers, soup kitchens, summer camps, athletics and Scouts, internship and mentoring programs and the performing arts. It claims to be the world's largest non-profit Armenian organization.
Sayat Nova International Composition Competition
One of AGBU's cultural efforts is the Sayat Nova International Composition Competition. Started in 2006, Sayat Nova International Composition Competition introduces the greater music community to Armenian cultural and inspires talented young composers. The competition seeks works written for a mixed ensemble of Armenian and Western instruments and set to the text of an Armenian poet. In 2006, the poetry of Sayat Nova was featured, in 2014 it was Daniel Varoujan, and 2016 will feature Grigor Narekatsi. The competition offers an amazing array of financial awards and opportunities to composers including a premiere performance in Carnegie Hall
With more than a dozen publications in six languages, AGBU has a rich publishing tradition