She's the First college scholarship pilot

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College Prep

posted Oct 25, 2013 by Alyssa Tartaglione

Progress

For the last 8 weeks, our director of international operations has been in the field in East Africa, working with our partners to assess their needs and our support. In doing this, one of the biggest needs has continued to be support through university; thus, we know we're looking in the right direction for this pilot program.

At this stage, we're conducting early research for our fully-funded pilot program on college scholarships. We intend to offer the program to our partners in Tanzania, Uganda, India, and Guatemala, and are currently in the process of speaking with those partners to fully flush out details of the scholarships (for example, what percentage, if any, students should be expected to pay back after school).

In this first stage, we'll be working with Shanti Bhavan's Children's School in India; AfricAid in Tanzania; Arlignton Academy of Hope in Uganda; and Starfish One by One in Guatemala. From there, we will be able to expand to other partners throughout the world.

Risks and challenges

Working across differing countries requires quite a bit of research and pre-work before implementing this program, and may require us to specialize the scholarship according to country or even student. This will make the program as a whole more difficult to adapt on a larger scale as we grow; however it could also make the process more effective and impactful for those receiving it.

Another challenge is the funnel for funding; the process by which scholarships will get to students may require a few of our partners on the ground to work outside of their usual missions, so we have more work to do in smoothing out that process as well.

Get personal

We've met many of the students getting ready to apply to college, in Tanzania, Uganda, and Ethiopia. Some of the students have dreams of one day attending college in the U.S. as well -- like Eli, in Tanzania. She and so many of her classmates work hard every day to ensure they have a shot at earning funding for college; the reality is that not all of them will be able to find it.

Next steps

After completing research for the structure of the program (by end of year), we'll develop the application and application process. We hope to open the scholarship process for mid-2014.

  • Education & training
  • Leadership

Kick off a college fund for the most gifted girls sponsored by She's the First!

Why we care: Without access to education, many young girls can only look forward to early marriage and motherhood.

How we're solving this: Creating a college scholarship fund for girls in  Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda, who will go on to found She's the First chapters at their universities and give back to help sponsor other girls for primary and secondary school. 

In Krishnagiri, India, a few miles outside of town and just past the gated government school, there’s a small compound of huts and cement buildings where a She’s the First scholar lives. Maheshwari, an 18-year-old about to graduate from high school, introduced us to her mother, aunts, and cousins, and told us how education had altered her life trajectory. She looked to cousins her own age, married with children, and to her younger cousins, and explained that they, too, would end up married prematurely. She pointed out that if it wasn’t for her sponsorship to school, that’s exactly where she’d be. But instead, she was discussing her graduation plans with us, and how she couldn’t wait to go to college and start on a pre-med track to eventually become a doctor.

For the past three years, She’s the First has engaged millennials in the U.S. to fundraise creatively for girls’ sponsorships in the developing world. So far, college and high school students in 35 campus chapters have organized bake sales, concerts, races and more to sponsor more than 265 girls in primary and secondary school across the world. All of the girls we sponsor come from environments that would otherwise prevent them from going to school, but She’s the First and our supporters are committed to seeing them through to graduation.

And now, they’re doing it! Girls who were the first in their families to even go to high school are setting their eyes on the next big target: college. And while She’s the First has traditionally only sponsored girls through secondary school, we’re looking at ways to continue supporting exceptional STF Scholars through higher education. So here’s where YOU come in:

With a $10,000 start-up fund, we’ll kick off a college scholarship program for the most gifted girls we sponsor. We’ll work with our partners on the ground in Ethiopia, Guatemala, India, Kenya, Nepal, South Sudan, Tanzania, and Uganda to invest in a new, technologically savvy generation of leaders. Students sponsored by She’s the First in secondary school can apply for a scholarship, writing essays and submitting references and grades in order to be considered. She’s the First will choose the most promising applicants and provide them with a full scholarship to the college of her choice, including a living stipend where necessary (funding will be managed by our trusted partners working on the ground). In return, the student will start a She’s the First chapter at her university, where she’ll work with other students to help sponsor girls in primary and secondary school in her own country, while connecting with students in the U.S. and around the world who are doing the same.

Through this program, we’ll not only empower women to achieve their career goals, but we’ll also ensure that women across the globe collaborate on tackling gaps in girls’ education. Together, we’ll create a worldwide support system.

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