S.O.U.L Foundation awarded grant

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.