A Legacy of Education for Women in Nepal

Founded by Sonnia J. Karlsson in 2004, the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation began as a non-sectarian scholarship fund to honor the memory of her husband Bo M. Karlsson, a compassionate man who was deeply dedicated to his family, the natural world, and education.

Sonnia’s initial vision was to provide scholarships for underprivileged women around the world. The inspiration came when Sonnia volunteered at a children’s home in Nepal, where she witnessed the numerous challenges the young women faced due to gender, caste, disability, and poverty. Sonnia was convinced that higher education could offer an alternative—a way for women to become confident, independent, productive citizens. This insight, along with a desire to honor her husband’s memory and a fierce belief that one person can make a difference, led Sonnia to launch the Bo M. Karlsson Scholarship Fund.

Nepal was chosen as the first country for awarding higher education scholarships to women. In subsequent years, scholarships were awarded to two young women in Kenya and Afghanistan. In 2007, when the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation officially became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, the BMKF board decided to focus on women’s education in Nepal. However, BMKF continues to collaborate with other organizations to support projects and initiatives that help women throughout Asia and around the world gain access to the education, equality, and opportunities that all humanity deserves.

The Bo M. Karlsson Scholarship Fund was initially launched with private funds from family and friends, local fundraisers, and private donations. During BMKF’s first decade, 90% of all donations went directly to support scholarships. Today, the Foundation continues to remain a Seattle-based, volunteer-driven organization, with one part-time paid staff coordinator in Nepal.

About Bo and Sonnia Karlsson

Bo M. Karlsson was a loving husband and father who believed that education is an essential human right. Bo continued to educate himself and learn new skills throughout his life. He believed that immortality comes from what you pass on to your children and they then pass on to their children. Since Bo’s death in 2000, his family has honored his legacy by giving the gift of education to those who seek it.

In 2004, Bo’s wife Sonnia launched a scholarship fund in his name and she has been the driving force behind the Bo M. Karlsson Foundation ever since. Sonnia is passionate about girls and women issues and works tirelessly with local and international grassroots efforts to bring in positive changes to our global community.

Sonnia thanks her family for their unwavering support: Verone Enock, Mats Peterstrom, Suden Kelley, Rick de la Noval, Rossana de la Noval, Vanessa Karlsson-Applehoff, Kevin Applehoff, Erica Karlsson-Cheshier, Dan Peterstrom, Sky Kelley, Chance Karlsson-Kelley, Phoenix Cheshier, and Kaia Applehoff.

The Karlsson family owes their gratitude and success to Bo and Sonnia Karlsson, who gave them confidence and taught them the value and power of education, kindness, honesty, and integrity.