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When was Abaarso founded?

Abaarso was founded in 2009 by Jonathan Starr, who came to Somaliland after a successful finance career in the U.S. with the vision of starting a great school that could one day transform the nation.

Where is Abaarso located?

Abaarso is located in Somaliland, a self-declared independent state in what was formerly northwest Somalia. Abaarso is located just outside of Hargeisa, the capital of Somaliland.

What does Abaarso mean?

Abaarso is the name of the small village near the school.

No. Abaarso is not affiliated with any education or other institutions using the Abaarso name.

Does Abaarso provide scholarships for its students?

We do! Abaarso’s average scholarship package covers 67% of the total tuition for 36% of our students, including several students each year from the local Abaarso village school and Hargeisa Orphanage. In addition to direct donations on our site, we fund raise specifically for scholarships through our partner The School Fund. You can help contribute to student scholarships by donating at their site.

Are there plans to expand Abaarso?

We are currently building a women’s university in Hargeisa, Somaliland called Barwaaqo University, which will build on all the sames values and strategies that have made Abaarso so successful. We will also eventually be rolling out a “network” of primary schools to educate tens of thousands of other students with a quality early educational foundation.

Student Information
How many students does Abaarso have?

Abaarso is a 7th through 12th grade co-ed boarding school with approximately 50 students per grade. Reflecting our commitment to girls’ education and empowerment, our classes are roughly equally divided between girls and boys.

How are Abaarso students selected?

Abaarso students typically come from all across Somaliland as well as parts of Somalia. Each year we hold an entrance examination for entry into 7th grade and select the most promising students, including several from the local orphanage and village primary school each year. In 2016, over 1,100 students competed for 50 spots.

What types of colleges are Abaarso students gaining scholarships to?

Abaarso students have been accepted to many of the best universities in the world, including Harvard, Yale, Brown, Columbia and MIT. Our students need fully funded scholarships as well as supplementary travel/living stipends, so we can only work with universities willing to make the investment.

How can I make a donation?

The easiest way to donate to Abaarso is through an online donation. Click here to securely donate now.

How much of my contribution goes directly to benefit students?

The Abaarso School is exceptionally proud of the efficiency of its programs and the direct impact of donations/funding. In the past 2 years, we estimate that 95% of our funds have directly supported the school and its students with only 5% going to overhead expenses such as audit and legal work.

Is my donation secure?

The security and confidentiality of your information is our highest priority. We use industry standard SSL (secure socket layer) technology to protect your information. We also will not sell, trade or share your personal information with anyone else.

Is my gift tax deductible?

Online donations are made to the US-based non profit entity, Horn of Africa Education Development (HED) Fund, which is a 501(c)3 charitable organization. Gifts to HED are fully tax-deductible, and we affirm that no goods or services were provided in return for any contribution. HED’s federal tax ID number (EIN) is 20-7245709.

Can I pay by check?

Absolutely. Please make checks out to “Horn of Africa Education Development Fund,” Abaarso’s US-based non profit entity. Checks can be mailed to:
Horn of Africa Education Development Fund
P.O. Box 60722
Worcester, MA 01606

How will I get a receipt?

For online donations, a donation receipt will be sent to you at the email address provided on our donation form shortly after submitting your donation.
For donations by check, you will receive a receipt by mail or email (if email provided along with your check).

Are there other ways for me to directly contribute to Abaarso?

Yes. There are many different ways to get directly involved with Abaarso.  You can:

Host a Fundraising campaign

Directly Sponsor a Student

Explore teaching opportunities at Abaarso

If you have other ideas about how you would like to support Abaarso, please contact us at