The outpouring of support in the wake of slain U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens' death has prompted his family in the San Francisco Bay Area, and elsewhere, to establish a fund to support innovative "people-to-people" ideas that further peace in the Middle East.
Stevens' brother, Tom Stevens, 46, an assistant U.S. Attorney in San Francisco, told NBC Bay Area on Friday that his family has established the J. Christopher Stevens Fund to award individuals and organizations who have good ideas on how to promote tolerance and peace in the Middle East.
"We just had this overwhelming response," Tom Stevens said. "We have received emails, texts, letters, flowers, you name it. And then Chris' Facebook page, it just went worldwide. We just wanted to put all these wishes to good use and see them carried out."
His mother, Mary Commanday, who lives in Oakland, added that the family has been "innundated" with well wishes, and the family was thrilled to be doing something positive in her son's name.
Chris Stevens, 52, was killed, along with three other embassy workers on Sept. 11 in Benghazi, Libya, a country where he was the United States ambassador. The White House has deemed the killing a terrorist attack, although the specific perpetrators and motives have not clearly been spelled out. Stevens, who spent his high school years in Piedmont, Calif., and who attended the University of California at Berkeley, and UC Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco, was the first U.S. Ambassador to be killed since 1979.
The fund named after Christopher Stevens is officially a partner of the New Venture Fund, a nonprofit public charity in Washington, D.C., and should soon have an advisory board of members who will determine how future donations will be spent, Tom Stevens said.
Tom Stevens encouraged anyone who wants to donate, and anyone who wants to submit an idea for a project, to contact the family on the www.rememberingchrisstevens.com homepage. At this point of its early inception, Tom Stevens said the family is considering a number of proposals, but no grants have been distributed yet.
In general, Tom Stevens said that the board is likely to grant money to established groups whose mission is to help "build bridges" between Americans and people in the Middle East - spots where his older brother had worked including Libya, Tunisia, Israel, Syria and Egypt.
Tom Stevens said projects that will be considered for funding depending on the amount of money raised will "promote religious tolerance, cultural understanding, educational youth exchanges, and other people-to-people programs."
Plans to memorialize Chris Stevens have still to be finalized.
To post a remembrance or photo, or to make a tax-deductible donation to the J. Christopher Stevens Fund, click here. To send a private message or funding proposal idea, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.