The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation invests in leaders who are changing the world. Our mission is to support the grassroots efforts of emerging leaders as they work to remove the barriers and eliminate inequities created by poverty. We empower communities one leader at a time. 

MNSF Values

  • Social Justice & Equality
    Everyone is entitled to have their basic human needs met and their civil rights protected
  • Power of Education
    Access to a quality education is a basic human right and the one proven way for both individuals and communities to flourish
  • Leadership
    We support resilient tested leaders, willing to take risks, who remain true to their values and are determined to improve the quality of life for the people they serve

Our Approach

The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation enters into multi-year grant partnerships with a select group of leaders both locally and around the globe. These leaders are social entrepreneurs who have demonstrated both resilience and commitment in addressing problems of poverty and inequality in their own community or a community they have ties with. They have the support and buy-in from their community, and work with their members to produce mutually desired and sustainable change.  They are self-starters who are not willing to take "no" for an answer, and they are often working to address a problem which no one else is addressing in their community. 

Our objective is to work with each leader and their organization for a number of years and through the provision of both financial and non-financial assistance, help each leader establish their work for long-term success. The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation does this in a number of ways, including but not limited to: Providing financial grants and seed funding; Convening organizations to share best practices; Increasing exposure and providing a network for new organizations; Disseminating new ideas and research; Leveraging other resources and expertise, Fundraising; and Advocating on behalf of our leaders and their work.  By committing to partner with our leaders for a number of years, we hope to help them realize their vision for their community and increase the scope of their impact.

We work to empower communities, one leader at a time.

About The Founders

Writer/director M. Night Shyamalan and his wife Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan co-founded the M. Night Shyamalan Foundation (MNS Foundation) in October of 2001. It had long been an interest of the Shyamalans to give "back," and as they understood the privilege of their own lives and witnessed their own children thrive, it was hard to ignore the simple advantage of birth. Since then, the vision for the Foundation has become less about "charity" and more about equity and justice. It is no longer about just "giving back" but about a responsibility to ensure others have the same opportunities to realize their dreams. We believe every human being has an unknown potential and the right to fulfill that potential.

Having grown up just outside Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Night envisioned a city where each individual has a true opportunity to thrive. The Foundation initially focused its work on improving the lives of the disadvantaged in Philadelphia, with grants aimed at improving educational opportunities, providing access to livable homes, and fighting hunger. Recently, concerned with the state of public education in Pennsylvania and throughout the country, The M. Night Shyamalan Foundation has begun to focus the domestic efforts and resources on education reform in Philadelphia.  This has lead to the publication of I Got Schooled, a book that focuses on the five keys to closing the education gap.  The book, published by Simon and Schuster, releases this September 2013.

At the same time, the Foundation has broadened its goals and responsibility to include a fight for social justice and poverty alleviation on a more global scale. The Foundation has provided grants for inititiaves focused on livelihood opportunities, education, food and water access, and agricultural projects in Africa, India, and Central America.

Through the work of the foundation Night and Bhavna have been inspired by the light they have encountered in everyone they have met; from the child who was found abandoned but always wears an incredible smile, to a woman living in abject poverty working tirelessly so that her children can have better opportunities, to teenagers in Philadelphia fighting for a decent education, and to the leaders who are driven by an innate desire to improve the lives of others and persevere through every "no," every road block and every sacrifice in order to bring a little more equality to the world.  These are all true leaders, each changing the world.

Meet Our Team

M. Night Shyamalan

Screenwriter, director and producer M. Night Shyamalan has captured the attention of audiences around the world for almost two decades. He is the writer and director of numerous films including The Sixth Sense, Unbreakable, Signs, The Village, Lady in the Water, The Happening, The Last Airbender and After Earth. His passion for filmmaking was born as a young child, and his relentless pursuit of this passion-along with the opportunity to pursue it- has allowed him to live his dream despite the odds. Though he never expected to be involved with Philanthropy, his admiration for human potential eventually led him to learn more about global disparities and how lack of opportunity prevents individuals, families, and communities from living their dreams.  Always working to improve his own story, Night's hope is to help change the story of those born with less opportunity.


Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan

With an international upbringing and global perspective, Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan developed a keen sensitivity to the impact of culture and context on individual outcomes.  In particular, the power of poverty to determine the life course of individuals, families, and communities, by severely limiting opportunity and choice, has been her driving force in creating and steering the efforts of the foundation.  With a personal pull toward struggles in the developing world, Dr. Shyamalan oversees the foundation's international grants, which focus on the fight for social justice and poverty alleviation. Dr. Bhavna Shyamalan earned her doctorate in Clinical Developmental Psychology from Bryn Mawr College.


Jennifer Walters-Michalec

Jennifer WaltersJennifer Walters-Michalec has spent her professional career advocating for social justice and equality in Philadelphia and around the globe.  Having spent five years working with nonprofits on quality healthcare and food access issues, Jennifer joined the Foundation in 2007 as its first and only Executive Director. Jennifer has served on the board of directors for the United Way of Southeastern Pennsylvania and is also on the Executive Committee of PhillyCORE Leaders, a Coalition of Rising Education Leaders actively working together for the betterment of Philadelphia schools. She holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Fels School of Government at the University of Pennsylvania, where she focused on nonprofit management and performance measurement.


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