Supporting Opportunities for Ugandans to Learn (S.O.U.L.) Foundation is grounded in community driven development and is committed to fostering sustainable partnerships with rural Ugandans in the areas of education, maternal health, women’s empowerment, and food security in eastern Uganda. Foundational to S.O.U.L’s inception and operations is the belief that all people have dignity and worth, and that together we can transform society to ultimately create a better world. S.O.U.L. works in direct partnership with community members through four program areas, education, women’s empowerment, food security and maternal health.
Understanding these challenges, S.O.U.L. has developed unique educational programs designed to target the underlying barriers to learning for girls. First, S.O.U.L.’s student sponsorship program partners with Ugandan families and 39 schools in the Jinja and Iganga Districts to help families afford quality education. Their Peer mentoring, particularly for girls, results in improved school attendance and retention, positive self-esteem, and healthier life choices. S.O.U.L.’s secondary-level mentorship program pairs older students with younger students, guides them through a curriculum that gives them a valuable support system. In addition, there has also seen a large gap between the technological skills of rural students in comparison to their urban counterparts, and few Ugandan schools in Jinja or Iganga districts, where S.O.U.L. operates, have the resources to overcome this divide. The requested funds will be used specifically for the following activities: 1) Student Sponsorship: Three female university students, four female vocational students, and 11 female secondary students will each receive an academic sponsorship in partnership with her family and a vetted Ugandan school. S.O.U.L. will be financially responsible for half of the costs and the family will be responsible for the remaining half. The sponsorship will include tuition fees, workbooks, a daily hot lunch, and in some cases, boarding. In the Jinja and Iganga districts, there are a limited number of secondary schools within a reasonable walking distance so boarding schools are safer, more cost and time efficient, and generally offer a higher quality of learning. 2) Mentorship: 150 young women in secondary school will be each paired with an older female mentor and will meet with her mentor weekly. Additionally, each participant will be taken through S.O.U.L.’s innovative mentorship curriculum where she will have access to weekly lessons and local guest speakers on relevant life topics. As she gets older, she herself will become a mentor to another girl entering the program, thereby creating a multiplier effect. 3) Technology Training: 150 female participants will be taken through a two-month computer course where she will learn vital computer skills that will help her in school and in the workplace. Upon successful completion of the current level, she will advance to the next level of training the following year. 4) Career Readiness and Entrepreneurship (CRE): Upon graduation from secondary school, vocational studies, or university, each sponsored student and those participating in the mentorship and technology programs will have access to the CRE program which assists young women in finding and getting a job or starting their own business. S.O.U.L. anticipates that 80% of female students in 2018 who graduate from secondary school, vocational school, or university will attend this program. To measure its impact, S.O.U.L. will take an initial baseline survey of each school and participant to gauge their starting point. At the end of each school semester, school year, and mentorship cycle, another survey will be conducted to track growth and outcomes. The surveying tools will track the mentorship relationship, academic performance, skills and learning development, career readiness, community relationships, household economic and social performance, and overall student progress.
The Foundation is pleased to award a grant to KinderUSA for the Cooperative Society for Saving and Lending. KinderUSA is the leading American Muslim Organization focused on the health and wellbeing of Palestinian children. Founded in 2002 by American physicians and humanitarian relief workers to alleviate the suffering of children and their families in Palestine and beyond, regardless of ethnicity or religious beliefs.
The Cooperative Society for Saving and Lending, provides the majority of the children enrolled with the only healthy meal they may eat all day through the Healthy Meals Initiative. KinderUSA is seeking grants to fund the 10th distribution of food to Kindergarten-aged students who suffer from anemia, malnutrition, and fatigue, children who have only known war and poverty in their lifetime.
The program incorporates the Women’s Cooperative which prepares the meals, focusing on empowering female head-of-households who find themselves the sole providers due to devastating circumstances. Some of these women have been living in dire conditions, and KinderUSA assists them through training in their cooperatives and ultimately finding employment at local factories and bakeries. This last stage, they had 30 women that are now successfully working, finally able to provide an income to their family. The project strives to accomplish 4 key items: 1. Lessen the psychological stress and economic burden on children and families in the poor and marginalized areas by empowering women through training and seminars while promoting education and health for children. 2. The project will alleviate the suffering of children in 12 kindergartens by providing hot meals and fresh fruits and vegetables that contain the needed sustenance for elements to build the bodies of children and the prevention of anemia and malnutrition diseases. 3. Raise awareness for mothers of targeted children in kindergartens on dealing with proper nutrition and preparation. 4. Improve the economic situation for women and their families, who are employed in their cooperatives producing pastries, improving their social role by increasing practical experience for employment beyond this project. The project addresses critical, nutritional needs of children. No other project exists in Gaza that mirrors KinderUSA work.
Mill Mountain Theatre (MMT) is continuing in 2018 its program of linking the performing arts with literacy and reading skills for children through four productions in its Young Audiences Series. The program was first started in 2016 to produce plays in conjunction with their literary sources, encouraging students to read about what they had seen in the shows. Follow-up surveys with parents following the shows revealed that they are largely reaching households where books are plentiful and reading is recognized as an important component. Therefore, in 2018 MMT is adding additional activities led by MMT Conservatory educators in classrooms where school administrators identify students who comes from households without advantages of books and parental encouragement to read. The productions planned for 2018 include: - Adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest, and of Mother Goose Tales A Year with Frog and Toad Shrek
This means that MMT’s reading initiative will have focused impact on 500 students who need incentive and skills to read effectively in addition to the 7,200 who see Young Audiences shows and are offered free books.When distributing books, MMT’s staff asks for email addresses to send surveys to parents and teachers who monitor the program’s effectiveness. From the information gathered by these surveys, 94.4 percent of students who saw MMT shows demonstrated an increased level of interest and 82 percent read the books given to them. These responses have documented the program’s intended impacts and pointed to areas to strengthen in 2018, especially to serve children from households where there are few books and reading is not actively encouraged. Funds from this grant will be used to underwrite the cost of books to be distributed to children attending the shows and to pay for creation and printing of activities guides and workbooks for distribution to the students.
The Foundation is pleased to again partner with VFCCE, the supporting arm of Virginia’s Community Colleges. The VFCCE works to broaden educational access, support student success, and provide innovative solutions to workforce needs. Their mission is “providing access to education to all Virginians,” with a focus on expanding access and programs for underserved populations. The Grant will provide support 2 programs, the Great Expectations Ed. Program for Foster Youth & The Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative over the next 4 years.
The Great Expectations program was developed to address Virginia’s record of having the highest number nationwide of foster youth aging out of the foster care system without a permanent home or any means of support. Their coaches help current and former foster youth gain access to a community college education, achieve success in college, and transition successfully to adulthood. Funds will support Great Expectations coaches, student support services, and scholarships to achieve the following goals:
- Expand to the remaining two colleges
- Move closer to serving 50% of the eligible foster youth
- Increase fall to spring retention rates
- Increase fall to fall retention rates
- Increase the number of credentials earned.
Rural Virginia Horseshoe Initiative was created to address the educational attainment levels in the rural localities served by 14 of Virginia’s 23 community colleges. The strategies employed to achieve these goals are placing full-time career coaches in rural high schools to assist lower- and middle-income families in navigating higher education and to award scholarship incentives, thus removing barriers to academic success. Funds will support full-time RVHI high school career coaches in Rural Virginia to achieve the following goals:
- Increase the number of students working with a coach to develop academic, career, and college plans thereby reducing the number of high school drop-outs
- Increase the number of students enrolling in community college thereby increasing the number of students pursuing a college degree, certification, or workforce credential
IMET was established in 1995 to provide mental health services to the war-traumatized children in Bosnia. Since its founding, IMET has been involved in a variety of humanitarian endeavors mainly focused on helping children who are victims of war and natural disasters. The main goal of their programs is to train teachers, counselors and mental health professionals in trauma psychology to help children and their families that are affected by war atrocities and natural disasters. IMET trains teachers in countries that include Albania, Bosnia, Kosovo, Pakistan, Russia, Chechnya, Sudan, Iraq, Jordan, Palestine, India, Rwanda, Kenya, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, The UK, The US and Canada. With the understanding that there is an acute shortage of psychiatrists and psychologist worldwide, IMET trains indigenous professionals such teachers to identify traumatic reactions in children and teach skills to help them better care for themselves and also train them on how to behave in individual and group settings.
A grant from the Foundation will be used to train teachers and mental health professional in Puerto Rico. The professionals will work with children and their families who are struggling in the aftermath of death and destruction caused by Hurricane Maria. Trainers from IMET have already traveled to Puerto Rico and provided abbreviated trainings for the professional staff and some faculty at the Ponce Medical Sciences University. Although the trainings were well received, IMET has identified the need for much more work that needs to be done.
Jennifer Hatcher, a resident of Hurricane, Utah, has decided to help raise funds and awareness for local non-profit organizations she believes in. The hope is that when folks in the community see Jennifer running, they will recognize her as someone trying to raise awareness for these organizations and maybe even donate funding. Jennifer has mapped out the area and estimates she will run approximately 500 miles. The funding request will be for $10 every mile/ per organization. She will also keep a GPS with her and will map out each run she completes, noting the distance and date completed. Additionally, Jennifer will maintain a blog and facebook page which she will post her progress and tell about the trials and interactions while our running and raising awareness.
Girls on the Run Southern Utah (GOTRSU) inspires girls to be joyful, healthy and confident using a fun, experience-based curriculum, which creatively integrates running. Girls on the Run is a physical activity based positive youth development (PA-PYD) program that is designed to enhance girls' social, psychological and physical skills and behaviors to successfully navigate life experiences. Through strategic running activities, girls explore new perspectives, critical problem solving and learn about diversity while moving and socially engaging. The 10-week after school program builds upon ideas, and specifically targets the improvement in Competence, Confidence, Caring, Character, Connection, and Contribution. Girls learn how to manage their emotions, help others, make intentional decisions, and resolve conflict. The program inspires girls to build lives of purpose and to make a meaningful contribution to community and society. This comes to life through a key element of the curricula when each team experiences the impact of true teamwork when they create and execute a community service project together. The season concludes with a celebratory 5K event. Completing a 5K gives the girls a tangible sense of achievement as well as a framework for setting and achieving life goals far beyond K-12.
The Dove Center empowers victims of domestic violence and sexual assault to find safety and healing from abuse. They are the only provider in their community of secure shelter, providing a 24-hour hotline and a 24- hour hospital advocacy for victims of rape and assault. They also provide court advocacy for protective orders and case management. Additionally, they provide free individual therapy sessions, adult support groups, children advocacy and support groups, personal safety training, on-campus advocacy for DSU students, and prevention awareness trainings. Last year the Dove Center added a transitional housing program and currently have 3 apartments where they can house a women and her children if they needed additional support after leaving the shelter. All services are free of charge, trauma-informed, and available in Spanish. They offer services to anyone experiencing abuse with the vast majority of their clients are women and their children. Currently the Dove Center is in need of increasing the number of hours their clinical therapists can work because they have a 2-3 month waiting list. Currently they have 2 part-time adult therapists and 1 part-time child and teen therapists. Increased funding will help them move one of two of their therapists to full-time hours and eliminate the wait list they currently have.
In 2018,the Foundation will continue to partner with the WGEF for two programs: The expansion of the HPI and the Literacy Program. To address the issue of menstrual health, and the challenges women face with regard to access, hygiene and socio-cultural stigma, WGEF created the Healthy Period Initiative (HPI). WGEF plans to expand the program to the Lwengo District in southwestern Uganda. The goal is to create local economies that will provide resources and economic opportunities to women and communities thru manufacturing and microenterprise. The strategy is to create a local supply chain that can deliver sanitary products to the most vulnerable populations at little or no cost: school girls, refugees, displaced persons, and those who lack access to affordable products. Each individual center in the expansion will assess and determine a philanthropic strategy to serve the specific community. A percentage of product produced will be given to identified programs and households every month to ensure women and girls have what they need to manage their menstrual health with dignity. The Lwengo District has a population of 281,400 people of which 36% are school age girls. In the district, young girls are married off before they complete their primary school classes; this is due, in part, to lack of access to sanitary supplies and sanitation. A total of 20,656 young girls are at risk of dropping out school every year, yet for every year a girl stays in school, her future income increases with 10%-20% translating into a better future for herself, her family and community. The grant will also support of the Literacy Program. WGEF, in consult with the Ministry of Education, has developed a literacy program that is effective and responsive to the needs of its clients. The program is not solely about basic skills of reading and writing, it is about providing women with the ability to understand their lives and social environment as well as equipping them with problem-solving skills, family planning, nutrition and parenting information and resources. In 2017 WGEF provided 1,643 women the opportunity to attend literacy training for 8 months, twice weekly; including meals and childcare. The Foundation will fund 500 women for the year.
The Foundation has been pleased to assist WGEF with its programs since 2014. Funding from the McQuade Foundation over the past two years has helped to build the Gulu Women’s Resource Centre and computer lab which has helped provide essential training, support, information and education to women and girls in Northern Uganda. Funding in 2017 also supported the Health Periods Initiative (HPI) which is a microfinance and educational endeavor to address the critical issues around
menstrual health for women and girls and is now moving from the start-up phase into expansion and capacity building.
COREDA is a development driven, non-profit making and non-governmental organization started in 2009 as an informal voluntary group. It was later constituted and registered in 2010 as a non-profit making association. The organization is regulated in Cameroon and the organization was also incorporated in Alberta, Canada in 2017. The organization is democratically governed with three main organs: The General Assembly (Supreme Organ), The Board and the Management Organ. The mission of the organization is empowering and sustainably improving the living conditions of children, women, vulnerable youths and disadvantaged rural and indigenous forest communities in the South West Region of Cameroon.
The organization began its mission in 2016 and has since acquired a piece of land for the permanent site of the educational and social centre for orphans and vulnerable children. The organization is continuing its efforts of raising funding for the construction of a permanent structure, the current home based centre has over 60 children and increasing demand. Many challenges have persisted including the lack of financial motivation of volunteer teachers, the need to feed and clothe the children, lack of furniture such as tables, chairs, teaching boards, Laptop/projector to better transmit both audio and video prerecorded teachings etc.
At least 60 orphans and vulnerable children presently in the centre will benefit from the $5,000 grant directly. There is urgent need for this project at a moment when formal educational activities have been paralyzed because of the ongoing sociopolitical upheavals in the North West and South West English Speaking Regions of Cameroon. Insufficient accommodation and lack of basic learning and teaching facilities has remained a problem at the centre, especially for the 10 most vulnerable children living at the home who do not have another place to live. These children have been sleeping on the bare floor and have been learning under very difficult conditions with children sitting and writing on the floor. The center needs furniture, descent chalk board and nutritional support to permit them to learn comfortably. The funds will be used to provide basic needs for effective teaching-learning process at the home based educational center. This will include furniture (study tables, chairs, lockable cupboard to keep books and other valuable items), essential textbooks and feeding support. The funds will be spent within one year.
Women for Women International (WfWI), is an international nonprofit organization, has supported over 462,000 women, distributed over $120 million in funds, and engaged 402,000 sponsors since its founding in 1993. The organization was founded by Iraqi-American humanitarian and entrepreneur Zainab Salbi in response to the horrific atrocities committed against women in Bosnia and Herzegovina during the war.
A $25,000 grant will be used to scale up its work and presence in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq (KRI), directly reaching 300 marginalized women with its 12-month social and economic empowerment program. The funds will establish and sustain its program in KRI through covering staff, training, communication, transportation, office and other program operation expenses. WfWI is requesting a general support grant for its work in KRI. These grant funds will be spent to support the establishment of WfWI’s KRI program office during the first half of 2018. This grant will support WfWI’s work in the Kurdistan Region of Iraq. WfWI is currently serving women in communities in the governorates of Erbil, Sulaymaniyah, and Dohuk. The project will make a sustainable difference in women’s lives through accomplishing the following: 1. Establish a local office and training center in Erbil to provide services to marginalized women. 2. Deliver WfWI’s 12-month training to 300 marginalized women. The economic empowerment component of the 12-month program will train women in the following areas: (i) numeracy skills for counting, adding/subtracting, and using money; (ii) benefits of savings, basic household budgets, and opportunities for income generation; (iii) business basics, credit, entrepreneurship, planning, selling, and bookkeeping; (iv) working in a group or cooperative, members’ rights and roles, collective decision-making; and (v) formal and informal savings and access to financial services. WfWI will also provide women with six months of vocational skills training. Guided by WfWI staff, women will choose the skill they want to develop into an income-generation activity in a process that will analyse their capacities and assets and be based on local market assessments. Local specialist trainers will be identified to provide practical hands-on training and guidance in these activities. Under the social empowerment component, women will be trained on: health and wellness; family and community decision making; social networks and safety nets; rights; and personal safety. This training will also include gender-based violence awareness and prevention. Similar to a small cash transfer, each woman will also receive a training stipend of $10 a month that she may use to meet family needs or begin saving towards her future.
WfWI’s program activities directly align with the Foundation’s goal, ‘to make sustainable improvements in women’s and children’s rights, education, and welfare’. This grant would support poverty reduction and improved gender equality for some of the marginalized women in the KRI. This grant supports women having full agency to determine the course of their lives, and have improved welfare that allows them to reach their full potential. WfWI program graduates have improved confidence, sustained income, increased assets, better physical health and psychological well-being, greater leadership, stronger support networks, and their children benefit from better health and educational investments. Sustainable change in women’s voice and agency. WfWI’s works with women to nurture their leadership skills and their ability to articulate their own needs, rather than being represented by others, and advocate for their rights in their families and communities. These are skills that can be used again in the future after graduation from WfWI’s program; women are supported to form savings groups and/or cooperatives which often continue after women complete the 12-month empowerment program.
Through a multi-year grant $20,000/year from the Foundation, the Sunflower will be able to support a full cycle of Sunflower Fellows.
The Sunflower Fellows is a unique, four-year leadership development program for primary school and secondary girls studying in the informal schools within the Kibera Slums of Nairobi, Kenya. The organization identifies low-performing young women with low literacy levels, at risk of ending their education early due to academic challenges, and provide them with holistic support daily after school, on the weekends and during the holidays, involving teachers, parents and caregivers to ensure our fellows are developing their academic skills, leadership abilities, and most importantly, self-confidence. After successful completion of the four year fellowship, Sunflower fellows are matched with sponsors and placed in secondary schools, or internships throughout Nairobi, putting them on the path to tertiary education.
The primary and secondary fellows program is a four-year commitment to excellence. During their time at Sunflower, Fellows challenge their minds, bodies and hearts to become the Leaders that their families and communities need. Our LEAD Principles, Love, Education, Action and Discipline, help fellows to personal growth, while our foundation in education and academic success equips our fellows with the literacy and math skills they need to be successful in and out of the classroom. The emphasis on character development, personal accountability, community service and leadership give our Fellows the training they need to be socially conscious leaders today and tomorrow. Daily, Sunflower Fellows come to the Sunflower literacy lab after school, where they participate in academic support sessions, technology labs, literacy support, art, and LEADership sessions. On Saturdays, fellows participate in community service, meetings with their mentors, and extended literacy programs, parent workshops and field trips. Every fellow undergoes counselling sessions at least once a month, writes in a journal, and participates in personal reflection, empathy and meditation sessions; the Sunflower is dedicated to the personal health and well-being of our fellows as a complement to their academic development.
While there a myriad of non-governmental organizations working in Kibera, Kenya, there are no programs that focus on low performing students, specifically young, vulnerable girls, instead, the majority of funding is directed towards programs for students with high grades and test scores. This has created an imbalance, there are opportunities for students that are high-performers, while students with lower academic achievement are left out, and essentially left in, extreme poverty. Girls and young women in Kibera, especially those with low academic performance, face a myriad of additional challenges. 43% of girls and young women in the informal settlement reported that they have traded sex, or sexual acts, for food , while only 1/3 of Kibera’s females ever complete secondary education . Within Kibera, girls are more likely to not attend school, as families are more willing to pay for a boy instead of a girl; for young women and girls that are enrolled in school, they are more likely to have frequent issues with attendance and interrupted learning, as they are called to take care of the home and younger siblings.
Sunflower will not just support individual girls, but families, and the entire Kibera community. Through the education of girls and young women, entire communities flourish. As the Fellows are the most vulnerable, at-risk young women in Kibera, the holistic support they receive is transformative.