About us

About CLI

Community Learning International (CLI) is a small INGO (INGO stands for International Non-Governmental Organization, the common term for an international “non-profit”). In addition to being non-governmental, we do not promote any religion or ideology.

Having been involved in Laos since 1997 CLI is registered in the USA having 501 (c) (3) charitable organisation status. Maintaining no US office or staff, all funds are allocated to Laos operations, indeed we are a very lean, low overhead organisation.

Book boat visitWe strongly believe that education, formal and non-formal is key to providing a long term solution to development, including poverty reduction, and this is where most of our resources are directed.

We work to improve the limited formal system in Laos (by building village schools, for example) and to supplement it (via our Lao Children’s Library Boats and our Learning Centers).

We also address near-term family income improvement through projects supporting local activities such as women’s weaving groups and village coffee growing.

Please see our approach as to how we go about delivering aid which contrasts to the traditional but often inappropriate project model for development.

We are rural/remote in our orientation, because that is where most Lao live, and that is where the needs are greatest. We have 37 staff, 35 of them Lao (including from ethnic minorities), 28 of them women.

Almost all CLI staff work in their home rural districts, and the only non-Lao staff are CLI’s founder and international director Bob Anderson who has lived in Laos for 15 years; and CLI’s development director Alexander Robb-Millar who has gained extensive experience in Laos over the past 10 years.

The CLI mission statement is:

Community Learning International creates opportunities for disadvantaged communities, families and individuals to work to improve their lives.

The mission statement is purposely broad, to give CLI flexibility to respond effectively to local needs and conditions. Those local needs and conditions, combined with our awareness of options from outside, are the mix that defines our response, not a narrow mandate drawn in advance.

We use a couple of slogans to illustrate what we are aiming to accomplish in applying the mission statement, through educating young people especially, but in all our work we are:

Water for a village

  • Forming futures
  • Opening minds to a world of opportunity

Much of our work is done with partner organizations, which leverages their resources and ours to do more than could be done separately.

CLI is governed by an international volunteer Board of Directors, with board members currently from the USA, England, Thailand and Laos.

Please use this site to learn more about CLI. We welcome your questions and comments.

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Latest news

New dormitory for Lao girls at Keng Khene

Thursday 8 May 2014

CLI has just completed another dormitory for girls from remote villages, so they can continue their education beyond village primary school. This dorm is at the Lower Secondary School at Keng Khene village. We hope to find funds to build two more dorms in the next 12 months. To find out more about our dormitories [...]


New library boat for Lao children!

Thursday 1 May 2014

This month CLI is launching our third Lao Children’s Library Boat. Bigger and faster, it will carry more books and reach villages further upstream on the Mekong River. It will be big enough to also contain tables, and will include solar panels to allow children to read and learn into the evening. We are urgently [...]