The Central Asia Institute, or CAI, is a non-profit organization established to help young girls, primarily in Afghanistan and Pakistan, to receive educations from schools. Generally, these girls would go to schools outside, and would not have many of the essential materials necessary for learning, if they went to school at all.
The institute was founded by Greg Mortenson and Jean Hoerni in 1996, after Greg realized how girls in the village of Korphe, in Pakistan, desperately wanted and needed a school of their own. He decided to build one, but first he needed to find someone to fund him. He wrote to Jean Hoerni, who gave him the money. When they began to build the school, which was situated in the Kakoram Mountains of Pakistan, they learned the lesson that they should entrust the building of the school with the locals of the town, rather than leaving the decisions to outsiders, a work ethic the institute still keeps today. Though the program was initially started to only build one or two schools, Greg and Jean saw the success of the first school, and decided that they should create more. Today, they have created over eighty schools in rural areas across Pakistan and Afghanistan. These schools focus on the literacy and education of young girls, though many of the schools also teach boys. Schools are built under the basis that the better the education of the young people in Pakistan, the less crime and terrorist organizations there will be. The institute also hires and supports six hundred seven teachers, and has created programs to train the teachers for a classroom environment. Their work has stretched to Mongolia and Kyrgyzstan, and for the future, they aspire to reach out to even more countries in central and southern Asia.