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My friends and I fell in love with Myanmar (Burma) before Hilary Clinton ever set foot in there. In the May of 2010, no one I knew had ever been. Back then, Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi was still under house arrest, and the military regime limited travelers’ access to certain parts of the country. Right on the heels of North Korea, it was the second most isolated country in the world.

Since the junta overthrew a democratic government in 1969, to the outside world, Myanmar became synonymous with systematic human rights violations, forced relocations, drug trafficking, and poverty. But what my friends and I found there were beautiful Buddhist temples and golden pagodas, as well as the most generous, most kind-hearted nation of people. Everywhere we went, the Burmese smiled at us, waved to us, shouted mingalaba! On a full day of trekking through the hills of Kalaw, two remote villages welcomed us into their wedding festivities, fed us steeped tea and lavish meals. On our way home, we stumbled upon a Nepalese ceremony, and the people offered us even more food, more drinks, more candies. Their children accompanied us halfway back to Kalaw, singing and dancing as they skipped beside us, chatting in Burmese, laughing.

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Team Stupa. May 2010.

Like most Burmese children, I later learned, most of these singing and laughing children had never touched a picture book. The educational system in Myanmar had been practically non-existent; the illiteracy rate among those over 15 and older stood at 2.5 million people in 2011. According to United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), 33% of school-aged children in Myanmar do not attend school and 70% of those who do are unable to finish at the primary level. Much of this is due to the lack of funds in barely maintained educational institutions, as well as the general poverty in the country that forces children out of schools at a young age in order to earn wages for their families.

In recent years, the junta has started handing over its power to a democratic system in non-bloody, non-violent reform, and willingly opened its doors to the outside world. As Burma embarks on such a historic transformation, the education of its children becomes more important than ever. Educational Empowerment provides Burmese children access to an educational environment in Myanmar that improves their future economic opportunities. Not only does EE provide books for children and develop community and monastic school libraries, it also aims to provide teachers with trainings and materials.

I would gladly support any organization working to build a democratic future for the brave, kind-hearted people of Myanmar. Through Give Direct to EE, we can play a part in ensuring children education and economic success at a critical time in the building of a free Myanmar! Give today! Every dollar matters!

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Everyone knows that educating girls improves their career opportunities. But did you also know that educating girls reduces child mortality and kickstarts developing countries?

The Global Education Fund reports that each year that a girl spends in secondary school, her future income increases by 15 to 25 percent. An educated girl invests 90 percent of her income in her family and community. When a mother has received a basic education, her children are 40 percent more likely to survive past the age of five. When looking at the 50 million girls that currently live in poverty, just imagine the impact that educating these girls could have on the world!

Through Jolkona’s Give to Girls campaign this month, you can support education projects in Afghanistan, Liberia and Nepal. For these three countries, which have some of the lowest GDPs and literacy rates, improving education for girls is absolutely essential.

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Improve Female Literacy in Afghanistan

Only 11 to 13 percent of girls and women in Afghanistan are literate, due the distances to travel to schools, caring for infants, and the social and cultural taboos related to attending co-ed schools, having contact with male teachers, and female education in general. But educating and empowering Afghanistan’s women is essential to lifting the country out of decades of war.

Barakat, Jolkona’s nonprofit partner on the ground, has an innovative curriculum that enables girls and women to become literate in a safe environment: all-female classes and teachers, community spaces, no restrictions on age or bringing babies to class. Barakat already engages 3,000 girls and women with their literacy programs. A Give to Girls gift of $60 will provide a Lower Level Literacy Education for one girl. 

Educate Girls in Liberia

More than 60 percent of Liberia’s school-aged children are not in school, including the most vulnerable girls in the country: orphans, homeless children, sex workers, and children of single parents. Jolkona’s nonprofit partner More Than Me believes that these low rates of education are directly related to the low life expectancy and other health problems Liberians face.

MTM’s program provides vulnerable girls in Liberia the opportunity to go to school, while also learning about nutrition, disease prevention and vaccination — giving them the tools they need to lead fuller, healthier lives. A donation of just $25 will provide two girls with school supplies, and $100 will provide a whole semester of education.

Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls

Struggling with extreme poverty, many families in Western Nepal take their daughters out of school and sell them into bonded service, known as Kamlari. The Nepal Youth Foundation works to rescue these girls by returning them to their family, helping the family develop another source of income, and prevent future trafficking through education.

NYF has rescued and educated more than 10,000 girls since its inception in 1990, and with your help, they can help even more. A gift of $100 will rescue one Nepali girl. Even just $5 can make a huge difference. 

Here at Jolkona, we are excited to support women’s education this month, since so many other causes hinge on the education and professional success of girls. Join us, and Give to Girls today.

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Monsoon season in Bangladesh brings in the flood waters, and as a result, thousands of students are unable to attend school. Many of these students are rural and have issues accessing schooling in the first place. This brings to mind perhaps the most essential tools a student needs for learning: a school. One man came up with a creative solution to address the issue and brought the school to the students during times of flooding, rather than leaving them behind.

Mohammed Rezwan founded a nonprofit called Shidhulai Swanirvar Sansgstha, which runs a fleet of boats acting as schoolhouses, libraries and adult education services. Since his family had a boat growing up, he was able to go to school year round, but he saw that many of his friends didn’t have the same access. He started with one boat and a few small grants, then his project garnered much more attention. With the help of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in 2005, he added solar powered electricity and computers, and expanded the fleet to its current size, with 20 school boats, 10 mobile libraries, and even 7 centers for adult education on practical issues like agriculture, and 5 clinics. Since it’s beginning, Rezwan has brought schooling to 70,000 students, and hopes to reach 100,000 more in the next five years. This is an amazing project, since, for many in Bangladesh, it is the only way to learn.

Shidhulai imageThis story shows that creative educational tools can overcome adverse conditions, and with enough support, bring schooling to more people than ever. Here at Jolkona, we know that making a big difference starts with a small and creative idea, just like Rezwan’s single boat has turned into an expanding educational flotilla. Through our Give Together Program, you can support similar innovations, and help students all over the world to expand their education.

One project that also approaches impediments to education with creative solutions is Enlighten Playgrounds Inc. which you can support this month through Give Together. This project provides innovative LED lanterns, charged with playground equipment to rural Ghanaian students to take home and study with at night. By providing something as simple as light, EPI improves the access and the quality of education in villages that don’t even have electricity.

Both Shidhulai and Empower Playgrounds Inc. confronted a seemingly immoveable issue, such as flooding and natural disaster, or lack of electricity with creative and clever solutions. Support the efforts of innovative educators like those behind EPI with Give Together. Many students do not have access to things like light at night, or even solid ground on which to attend school, that we take for granted. When we think about the tools needed for a successful education, we do not think of those needs, but they are absolutely vital.

With just a $5 donation, you can join in on Give Together, and make a difference on education. We only have a week left to focus on education, so remember to vote for your favorite organization!

Photo Credit: Amy Yee, NYT

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Rather than reducing income inequality and providing access to the same opportunities, higher education seems to be maintaining, the status quo.

Anyone who has attended a University in the last decade has been aware of the skyrocketing costs of tuition.  For me, the small increases on my tuition statement every quarter, combined with the occasional obligatory (and often poorly attended) student strike in protest became a normal part of my academic landscape. However, I have realized that the world of higher education is highly complex, and very parallel to the struggles of the collective student body.

closing school

Two recent stories show that this struggle is played out not just between students, but between universities as well, especially private schools. With the recession, small private schools with less access to resources are at higher risk of closing. These are schools that struggle with funding, as they often do not receive the massive donations that larger schools do, and have to rely only on student fees to survive. In turn, they are less able to provide amenities and the level of quality necessary to draw in a healthy student body in a competitive student landscape.

However, this is not endemic of the greater higher education industry suffering as a whole. One of the latest scandals in the field was the news that NYU was giving its “stars” housing loans and other enormous monetary benefits to keep them at the school.  This has caused outrage, since NYU is one of the most expensive institutions in the US to attend, and its students have been leaving with startling amounts of debt.  When its faculty and other academic assets are being paid massive bonuses, and its president makes 7 figures, the news of this further fiscal abuse is truly disheartening. Clearly NYU isn’t raising tuition costs in order to survive like smaller private schools. They are doing it because they can.

So, what do these stories tell us? They tell us that the same trends that maintain income inequality between students even after attending a university are endemic on a higher level. These trends are apparent in the private sector of higher education as a whole from school to school.  What is even more distressing, is private universities such as NYU and its small, failing brethren, are non-profits. We expect the for-profit education industry (which accounts for a full fifth of college students) to financially exploit students. What we don’t expect is that a famous non-profit private school, which receives substantial donations, would land its students with a huge financial burden in order to fund second homes for famous faculty.

This is a time where more Americans are earning degrees than ever, and the changing nature of jobs means that applicants need more specialized training than before. Access to higher education, is becoming more of a necessity, and is still the best chance at reducing income inequality. Something so necessary shouldn’t be a game to play with bank accounts.

What becomes clear is that the rapidly rising tuition rates is making students, and smaller private schools poorer, and is an opening for large, dominant schools to pad their pockets. When institutions of higher education think only about money, it is the students who suffer, especially those who need it the most.  It is time for things to change.

The good news, is that you can positively impact education for students all around the world, through our Give Together program.  Be proactive about education, and donate today.

Learn more about Give Together and sign up here. You can also keep up with all that’s groovy in philanthropy by following us on FacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram!

Each month we will be helping you get to know our partners and their projects a little better with our Partner Spotlight posts. The first in our Education series is our super cool partner, Empower Playgrounds. They are based in Ghana and harness kinetic energy from school playgrounds to power LED lamps, which the children can then take home after school to study. Told you they were cool. We caught up with them, shot them a few questions, and here’s what they had to say about who they are, what they do, and why you should get involved in our Give Together program and donate to their project.

What is the inspiration behind your organization?

The inspiration behind Empower Playgrounds is that there is energy all around us, everyday, and if captured, this energy can empower tomorrow’s leaders and light their way towards achieving their fullest potentials. 

What’s the story behind your project?

Empower Playgrounds Inc (EPI) was started after our founder, Ben Markham, and his wife, Julie, who lived in Ghana for 18 months as humanitarian missionaries. While here, Ben often held meetings in rural school houses and noticed how dark it got early in the evenings and wondered how students were able to study or read in their homes with such conditions. He was also struck by the simplicity of play equipment available to children, usually nothing more than old bike tires and tin cans that would be turned into rudimentary cars. Ben decided to try and solve both of these problems and developed the electricity-generating merry-go-round we use today. 

Kinetic merry-go-round

How did you become connected with Jolkona

EPI’s executive director, Chris Cannon, was in Seattle visiting NGOs and social ventures with a group of MPA students from Brigham Young University when he learned about the innovative fundraising and advocacy work Jolkona was doing. And after talking with Nadia he quickly decided that this was a partnership worth pursuing and that he hoped would help EPI fulfill its mission of providing the light of opportunity to students of Ghana.

Can you tell us a bit more about your project and how it’s going currently?

Empower Playgrounds is currently operating in nearly 40 schools, providing light to over 6,000 students in some of Ghana’s most deprived areas. We continue to gain support from individuals concerned about the quality of education students are receiving in these deprived areas and by groups working to provide similar opportunities. We are hopeful that this year will see wider expansion, both within Ghana and to similar countries, as we gain more momentum and work with a tried and tested system and wonderful corporate partners like Goal Zero and Playworld Systems, Inc. 

What kind of lasting change does the project hope to engender?

Our vision for the future is to have educated parents, especially mothers, in every village who will instill a love of learning in their children. This next generation of children will be much better suited to tackle the generational triggers of poverty and inequality that we as outsiders are often unable to define or solve. We are beginning to see this change take place in some of our earliest schools in the form of increased school completion, attendance, and national test scores. 

So say I give $50 to the project, can you explain a little further the impact that is achieved?

For $50 you provide a group of students a portable LED lantern powered by play! This lantern will provide 40 hours of reading and study time with each charge and is expected to last around 5 years, meaning that they are ensured the light of opportunity for just $10 per year!

Ghanaian students

We love stories at Jolkona. Do you have a favorite impact story you can share?

One of our students, Gabriel, is just one example of how hard students are working to rise above adverse conditions and better themselves in order to better their communities. At 16 Gabriel is the oldest student in his 6th grade class, towering above his classmates and even some of his teachers, however his meek demeanor shines in his bright eyes and constantly beaming smile. This same smile is somewhat out of place when he starts talking about his life and the conditions he struggles with everyday.

He has lived alone in the tiny village of Terhey for several years after his parents moved away to look for work, taking with them his younger siblings. His weekends and evenings are spent doing odd jobs in order to provide for himself: cutting wood for charcoal, helping local farmers, fixing bicycles. And what he earns from these odd jobs he often sends to his siblings so they can buy books and pay for school uniforms, leaving himself to rely on the generosity of his favorite teacher.

Gabriel is now in middle school, still older than his classmates but at least now the same height, and well on his way towards High School. He is a success in the village of Terhey because he is a trendsetter in a community that often sees little use for school and its postponed payoff when so many competing needs have such immediacy. He is one of the lights shining in darkness that makes Ghana such a trailblazer in West Africa.

Such a great story. So, in a nutshell, why should someone give to this project?

With so many organizations and nonprofits doing good things, it’s often hard to choose between so many good options. At EPI we strive to be among the best. We do this by maintaining focus on a single cause – one that we feel is at the root of so many other problems. 

With a generation of educated people Ghana will be filled with home-grown solvers and thinkers who can tackle the difficult problems that plague so many developing countries, resulting in long-lasting and effective change that will benefit the world.

Sign up or sign in to Give Together and donate to Empowerment Playground. Empower tomorrow’s leaders and light their way towards achieving their fullest potentials today.

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Let’s start off this post with a cartoon:

educational-system-comic

This cartoon brilliantly illustrates two points about the American Educational System:

1) Treating every student the same does not create an equal playing field,

and

2) bridging the Opportunity Gap doesn’t require a change from students, but a change from the educational system itself.

The Penguin and the Fish

Expecting a penguin and a fish to climb a tree is just as a preposterous as thinking that treating every child the same creates equal opportunity. Fun fact: it doesn’t, it actually does the opposite. Treating every student the same doesn’t factor in the amount of Cultural Capital every child brings into the classroom. Bluntly stated, if you don’t help the children who are already behind, you are subscribing to a front row seat to their failure. Students who aren’t given the extra help they need will most likely fall behind, while their counterparts will succeed because they can keep up with the material that is being taught. Treating every student the same will only reinforce the already unequal education practices the U.S. already has in place.

What Needs to Change?

On that grim note, there is hope. In order for real change to occur in our biased and unequal education system, change needs to come from the top. The educational institution itself must change in order for all students to have the same opportunities as their neighbor.  Although I fully recognize that what I’m stating is much easier said than done, if America wants to truly offer the American dream to every American, our educational institution has to change.

If you want to help students who are behind in school both in the U.S. and abroad, check out these two projects:  TAF (Technology Access Foundation) is helping close the digital divide for students who don’t have access to computers and the internet. If you want to help globally, check out our project that is helping students in India get an education they deserve. If you want to support any other of Jolkona’s projects, check out Give Together.

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Give Together is live! And our opening feature issue is Education1005044_10151427376962396_1217417665_n

We have three projects that significantly help both teachers and students internationally move towards a brighter future. Give Together today, choosing your favorite project and pooling your contributions with others who share your same interests.

Here is an introduction to our featured projects:

Empower Burmese Women to Become Effective Teachers

Educational Empowerment supports education in SE Asia, especially in Myanmar. A third of children in the country are unable to access education at all, and 70% of those who do never move beyond primary school. Educational Empowerment has made it their goal to fix this deficit by providing training and educational materials to teachers (90% of whom are women) in poverty stricken communities in Myanmar.

This project not only enhances the education of young children, providing them greater opportunities in the future, but it also empowers the women who teach, allowing them to be more effective in the classroom, and prepare them better for their careers. Both teachers and children face poverty and unequal opportunity. The $250 fundraising goal for Educational Empowerment will purchase the necessary materials to contribute to the essential development of primary school children, and allow their teachers to become confident  role models.

Providing Play-Powered Lanterns for Rural Students in Ghana

Empower Playgrounds, Inc. is an innovative company that installs playground equipment for schools in Ghana, which charge special lanterns that students can take home with them after school to study. In most villages in Ghana, there isn’t a reliable source of power. The village of Ahiatroga, is no different. This makes it difficult for students to continue their education outside of the classroom, which is essential for increasing the quality of their education.

The $500 fundraising goal will install a merry-go-round for Ahiatroga’s school, charging portable LED lanterns for students to take home and study with. Empower Playgrounds, Inc. has already installed 40 of these innovative merry-go-rounds, benefitting almost 10,000 students in Ghana. Donate today, and add the students of Ahiatroga to this growing number.

Fund the Education of Underserved Students in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math

The Technology Access Foundation (TAF) is an organization in King County, Washington, that is working on improving the STEM education for communities of color, better equipping underserved students to enter college, and helping them pursue careers in fields of science and technology. Their summer program provides camps focused on a number of topics, such as robotics, aviation and design. The students attend a field trip, and present their work at the end of the session.

The fundraising goal of 2 scholarships at $350 will allow some of the highest need students from White Center Washington, where as many as 82% of students qualify for free or reduced lunches, to have an in-depth, and hands on experience with a STEM field of their interest. The summer program will supplement their education, preparing them for college and science and tech based career.

Donate today, and use Give Together to pick one of these organizations and improve education worldwide!

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As a recent college graduate, I understand how important proper employment training is. The US economy has created a dog-eat-dog competition style in the job market where every ounce of experience and knowledge is incredibly valuable.

That’s why I have created a campaign with the goal of assisting at least 10 students in getting a month’s worth of various employment education classes in order to help increase their chances of getting a job after graduation.

Students are constantly being reminded about how tough the job market will be for them after graduation by the press, educators, peers and parents. Action needs to be taken now to support students and lift them up in an economy threatening to tear them down.

What You Can Do

Prepare Kids in USA to Become Employable Adults–The poor job market and status of the United States’ economy is a highly debated topic that is not likely to disappear anytime soon. Regardless of one’s opinion on how to best turn the economy around, it is clear that too many Americans are out of work.

Soccer in the Streets, who has partnered with Jolkona since 2010, conducts a project titled School of Life, which teaches the country’s youth about resume building, employment preparation, community service and much more.

The organization started in 1989 and has since positively influenced the lives of over 125,000 people. It is a member of the United Soccer Collaborative in the United States, and streetfootballworld internationally.

By giving a gift of just $25 to Soccer in the Streets School of Life program, you will help one student gain the skills needed to become employable upon graduation. A month’s worth of supplies will be provided to the School of Life program in order to help teach these skills.

Do Even More

For $150, you can provide a student with six months of life skill training programs and empower their future.

To help further, your gift of $300 will be used to sponsor a student in life skills training programs for an entire year, after which you will receive a video from the student describing all of their successes.

Let’s make good jobs a reality in our youths’ futures, not a dream.

The Bigger Picture

Although there seems to be nothing more important to some Americans than landing a good job during this time of economic disarray, this project contributes to a larger cause: achieving the United Nation’s goal of eradicating hunger and poverty by 2015.

With your small gift, you can help the UN reach this huge end by making sure our youth has the means to support themselves in the future, while influencing younger generations to give back to their communities.

Learn more about Soccer in the Streets by checking out its website, following them on Twitter, or liking them on Facebook.

By learning and teaching others about this amazing program, we can work to lower future unemployment rates–without relying on empty campaign promises. Take action for tomorrow today, right now.

Help my campaign, Jolkona and the UN accomplish our goals of creating a better future by giving to our youth.

Like Jolkona on Facebook, follow us on Twitter, and check us out on Pinterest to keep up with all of our ongoing projects.

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Report on Girls’ Education in India

Note from the Editor: this report is written by Daljit Singh, Jolkona Office Manager intern, a graduate in political science from the University of Washington.

photo credit: Flickr, Simon Tucker Photographs

Education is a basic human right that should be exercised fully in all nations, but for many girls in India, attending school is not an option. A girl’s education is an essential starting point in establishing equality everywhere. Despite the Indian Constitution guaranteeing equality before the law and non-discrimination on the basis of sex, India remains a patriarchal society. Male inheritance and property ownership, early marriage, dowry, honor crimes, lack girls’ education, witch hunting, violence against women, and trafficking are all serious issues in the country. There are schools, but most girls do not attend, often because of religious reasons or cultural pressures.

A study conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau states that three out five girls receives primary education versus three out four boys. There should not be differences in the numbers of such a basic, universal human right. The law of the land makes it clear that both boys and girls have an equal opportunity to attend school from the age of six through fourteen, and that primary education is a fundamental right (Indian Constitution, Art 21). If the constitution does not make it clear enough, there is also an article in The Universal Declaration of Human Rights defining that education is a universal human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). Girls are not receiving equal access to primary education in rural India and therefore are not achieving equality.

In this report, I want to focus on rural India and will examine the main reasons why girls have been kept away from receiving a complete primary education.

Limited access to laws and rights

The laws governing education in India are remarkably similar to the laws of western nations.  These laws are accessible to the citizens of India, but many of the citizens are unsure of how to properly live them out and where to go with complaints. Complaints usually fall on deaf ears and the citizen is told that there is equal access but that they are not fully utilizing it. It is a catch-22 situation.

In addition to national laws, there are also international laws that also govern these states. These laws, however, are harder to access for the average citizen. The citizens are only able to access these laws through local NGOs. However, the NGOs are not usually located in rural India. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights has a clear article outlining that the access to education is a basic human right (Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Art 26). These declarations should give more power to the government to provide access to education to all children.

Education is the crux

The impact of education on girls is extraordinary. Education sustains human values. It forms the foundation for learning and critical thinking. Education also provides skills for girls to become more self-reliant and provides them with more opportunities. Thinking into the future, education also provides them with the knowledge to manage health problems. A girl understanding her own body can make the difference between an unwanted pregnancy and an illegal abortion. Having the knowledge beforehand is crucial to saving and protecting lives.

Education does impact human development, as mentioned, along with economic development but the greatest impact is on democracy. Education is the only way a girl can be an informed citizen, leading the way for her to having her voice heard in society.  Education also provides a better overall quality of life. Research has shown the life expectancy rises by as two years for every one percent increase literacy (U.S. Census Bureau 1998). When women have a voice there can be changes made to existing laws changing the future for young girls.

photo credit: Flickr, karathepirate

4 reasons why girls are pulled out of school

The first reason why girls are pulled out of school is because of family responsibilities. Girls provide free labor at home for the family. Home is also where they learn to be a better housewife. Many girls are kept at home because it is a better payoff than going to school. Having the girl attend school is not valuable to the whole family. This problem is lucidly evident in India, even in urban areas, but more prevalent with poorer families. Girls can be found doing everything from farm work to household chores.

The family plays a central role in a girl’s life and shaping her future. Respect is given to elders in all situations and no decision can be made without consulting an elder. This often leads to the practice of arranged marriages. The decision is entirely up to the family and the girl often does not even see her future husband until the day of the wedding. Compared to American norms, individuals growing up in India are much more dependent on their families, especially parents.

The second reason why girls are kept from receiving a primary education is because they are pulled out early to protect family honor. This also can affect the dowry when the girl is married. The boy’s side of the family can raise the dowry if they suspect she has been in school with boys during puberty. The practice of dowry is illegal, but laws are not always implemented. If the dowry cannot be paid, the bride runs the risk of being ruined, or worse, being killed. Honor killings are prevalent among the poor.

The third reason for inequality during primary education is because girls can’t attend school due to inadequate facilities. Schools are unable to provide safe and sanitary facilities for young girls to attend, and with the population increasing at a rapid speed the priority for new facilities is given to boys. In many cases, though, this is exacerbated by basic infrastructural problems: roads, running water, and electricity are often scarce.

The fourth reason girls are kept from school is because of the shortage of female teachers. The problem can be solved, but it starts with first educating girls so they can aspire to be teachers. The government, however, does not see this as a problem and continues to deny that there is gender inequality within the education sector. There have been efforts, as listed earlier, by the government to enroll more girls but this has not been for the nation of India, but rather for international recognition and numbers.

The Solution

All of these contribute to the issue of unequal access to education for girls along with many more issues. These four issues have many underlying issues that contribute to the overall problem. And to solve this issue we can look to three conclusions: NGOs and nonprofits, and the government’s response.

First, NGOs and nonprofits can offer the most helpful solution to this problem because of grassroots movements across rural India. Many of the past efforts have come from reviewing previous reports. NGOs and nonprofits work at a local scale where a difference can made, whereas the government has worked on a larger scale with less success.

Second, the government’s response can help the whole process of providing primary schools for girls. The Indian government has recognized the problem has been slow to act on the issue. As mentioned earlier, education is not a priority for the government right now; rather the government is focused on the economy. Without girls being involved in the future economy, the government is taking a risk and putting the issue off for another generation.

Be a part of the solution. Jolkona is focused on providing mentorship and training to young social entrepreneurs who seek to create solutions that address things like education and women empowerment through a social accelerator program called Jolkona Catalyst. Join us in supporting the next generation of leaders by volunteering or by making a donation to the Jolkona Catalyst program.

Your gift will allow Jolkona to expand the Catalyst program to other parts of the world. This program has had a significant impact on the young leaders we have already invited. You can help us achieve our mission of accelerating positive social change by empowering even more young social entrepreneurs around the world. Let’s turn small acts into big impacts!

 

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Note from the editor: this post was written by Jolkona volunteer Zanoon Nissar, sent all the way from Manuas, Brazil.

Our second partner visit in Brazil was in Manaus, the largest city in the province of Amazon. After driving through the poorer regions of the city, we came to ADCAM, a multi-faceted school with apprenticeship, college, high school and youth programs. When we arrived, we couldn’t believe how beautiful the campus looked compared with the rest of Manaus. There were well kept gardens, acres of land, and happy students walking through the halls. This was clearly a special place in the city and we were about to find out why.

We first spent some time with students from the vocational program. They were between the ages of 14-17 and were part of an electronics repair program. Since there are a lot of electronics factories in Manaus, the demand for skilled repair workers is high and pays well. These students are very busy, spending 4 hours a week in an placed internship (generally at one of the local factories), attend ADCAM one day a week, and go to  regular school as well. The program opens the children’s eyes to their potential, and many end up using the money they save from their internships to go to college.

What impressed me most about ADCAM was both the passion of its director, as well as the way it has grown and developed around the needs of the Manaus community. Their director was an Iranian woman who had immigrated to Manaus over 25 years ago. She didn’t speak any Portguese at the time, was pregnant and yet had a goal of opening a small daycare. She overcame hurdle after hurdle to grow the daycare into a school, and then an apprenticeship program, and finally a college. Now, over 5,000 students attend the school every year. If you ask their founder how she made this possible, she references her belief in love, faith and God.

It will be fascinating to see where ADCAM will be in 5 years. As the Olympics and World Cup approach, there will be a boom in tourism and hospitality. In the past, ADCAM has grown to fit the needs of its community, and I anticipate that this will be no exception. The biggest potential investment here would be in the teaching of English. Another area that ADCAM will need to explore will be the environment. Finding a fine balance between preserving the nation’s rainforests and expanding will be key.

To help support this amazing school, Jolkona is soon to be partnering with the Mona Foundation, a Seattle based non-profit.  The Mona foundation funds vocational and primary school scholarships for ADCAM. Please support ADCAM here.

 

Late July of this last summer, Jolkona raised money through our Groupon campaign to fund women grassroots leaders to come to Seattle and participate in a 10 week training program. The deal was this: for every $500 raised, Jolkona would fund one week of training for one woman. In addition, all funds raised would be munificently matched by Seattle International Foundation, and then implemented by iLEAP. Let me say right now that it was – and continues to be – a brilliant success, and on so many levels. And here’s why:

The total raised from the 3 day Groupon campaign, plus the additional donations since then, including the generous match from SIF, is a vertiginous $20,000! (I’m not usually one for wielding exclamation points in my grammar, but that one is thoroughly warranted.) And with that amount raised, Jolkona was able to fund fellowships for two women for the entire 10 week training program. Please, allow me to introduce them to you:

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar (left) and Margaret Edwin Molomoo (right)

Claudia Vanessa Siliezar is from Honduras – she is a Sociology and Law professor at CEUTEC-UNITEC in La Ceiba, and is coordinator at GOjoven Honduras, where she is involved in promoting women’s rights, especially those pertaining to reproductive and sexual health, as well as in combating violence against women.

And….

Margaret Edwin Molomoo is from India. She works for Tarumitra, where she educates students, farmers, and women about the methods and benefits of organic farming in villages surrounding Bahir. Her work has assisted many farming groups in changing their use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers in their farming practices.

Thanks to the funds raised, Claudia and Margaret, already stalwart pursuers of a fairer society, are now even better equipped to grow their successful, high-impact programs.

In connection with this, we are inviting you to the extraordinary annual Women in the World’s Breakfast, held at the Four Seasons in Seattle, where you can meet our fellows, Claudia and Margaret, in the flesh. Buy tickets here. And to whet your appetite, here’s the inspiring video of last year’s event:

The raising of the funds and the opportunity and skills it provided Claudia and Margaret were not the only success stories of this campaign. Another aspect deserving of sincere pats on the back was the campaign’s collaboration: the three-pronged spearhead of SIF, iLEAP, and Jolkona. You see, unfortunately, too many nonprofits try to go at campaigns alone, and what this campaign exemplifies is the exponential difference nonprofits can make when they work together. Remember: a problem shared is a problem halved.

Our goal is to fund 5 women; so far we’ve funded 2. The campaign is still running and SIF is still matching every one of your donations, dollar for dollar. Make a difference. See the results. Give to the campaign here: Invest in Women Grassroots Leaders from Around the World.

When we announced the Give to Educate (Give2ED) campaign two weeks ago, we had a big goal ahead of us – raise $4,000 in donations for education projects that will be matched, dollar for dollar, by one generous donor named Brandon.

Members of the Jolkona community answered Brandon’s call to “get off the sidelines” and make a difference in the lives of children and adults around the world through education. We are excited to announce that on Monday, February 21st, Give to Educate was fully funded!

Together, in two weeks, here’s the impact we made towards education around the world:

  • 2 scholarships provided in Guatemala
  • 2 students supported through summer program in China
  • 2 months of school transportation provided in Tanzania
  • 4 girls educated in Afghanistan
  • 2 scholarship endowments set up in Bangladesh
  • 34 months of tuition fees provided in Guatemala
  • 2 years of practical skills training provided in NIger
  • 100 books provided in China
  • 4 students received books in Kenya
  • 2 months of secondary education provided in Uganda
  • 2 months of university education covered in Guatemala
  • 4 students received tech tools and trainings in USA
  • 16 semesters of education expenses covered in India
  • 14 chairs supplied to schools in Sierra Leone
  • 2 classes received books in Rwanda
  • 2 years of public education sponsored in Pakistan
  • 2 children sponsored in Bangladesh
  • 14 months of computer training provided in Guatemala
  • 2 students attended day school in China

Thank you to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

For those who donated, you will receive proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation Give to Educate matched on your behalf. Matched gifts will be added to your account by the end of March and you will receive a proof of impact once our partners implement each project.

We would also like to thank Brandon for being a pioneer in sponsoring this campaign. At Jolkona, we believe that individuals can make a huge difference in the world and small donations add up to create a big impact. Through Give to Educate, Brandon inspired each one of us to donate and double our collective impact; the goal was not $4,000, but $8,000 total.

Thank you, Brandon the philanthropist, for leading this campaign and choosing Jolkona as your choice for giving.

Investing in education doesn’t stop here

You can continue to see the support of education projects on the campaign page and by viewing the overall impact the Jolkona community is making towards the UN Millennium Development Goals and other projects around the world.

Oh, and stay tuned, because we have even more exciting things to announce in the coming weeks!

Education is one the primary ways to escape poverty and improve the quality of life. According to a recent article in TIME Magazine, one additional year of secondary education can increase salaries for girls by 15-25%. In general, educating girls has a profound effect on reducing overpopulation and child marriage. Girls educated for seven or more years, on average, marry four years later and have 2.2 fewer children as per data from the Girl Effect.

Despite these overwhelming statistics, girls are often left behind. About 25% of girls in developing countries do not attend school (Girl Effect). Girls also receive less than $0.02 of every dollar given specifically for development assistance (TIME).

As a public health major, I am extremely disappointed that female empowerment is not valued as a proven, effective intervention to combat global disparities. As the daughter of immigrant parents, I am horrified. I have been back to India and seen first-hand the impact of gender disparities. Women are scarce at night. Girls are expected to get married or become a burden to their parents. Education is certainly deemed important but school fees are expensive, and since males are dominant in society, their needs are generally met first. It is sad to see that so little of development assistance goes towards making girls feel safe and, even more importantly, appreciated in their own society.

What can you do to bridge this gap and promote education for girls through Jolkona?

There are numerous projects you can support. You can Provide Education to the Females of Afghanistan, where their literacy rate is only 14% because many parents are wary of sending their daughters to co-ed schools with male teachers. For only $40, you can sponsor a girl’s literacy course for a 10-month term in a safe, female-only, environment. Plus, you will receive the name and photo of the girl whose life you changed.

You can also Free and Educate Enslaved Nepali Girls, sold by their farm laborer parents who have limited financial resources. A donation of $100 will not only bring a young girl back to her family, but also pay for school fees and kerosene lamps to ensure that she can study at night. Through the generosity of Jolkona donors, 29 girls have already been saved. Can you make that number higher?

And remember, with the Give 2 Educate campaign in full swing, your donations will be matched, doubling your impact and empowering girls everywhere!

Photo Credit: A. gonzalez

Today is a very exciting day. Not only was our first All Hands meeting last night with the entire Jolkona volunteer team, but also it’s Tuesday and we’re announcing our first matching campaign for 2011.

This campaign is different than previous campaigns because it is made possible by one person who is just like you and me.

I’ll let him introduce the Give to Educate (Give 2 ED) campaign himself:

So get off the sidelines and act

Starting today, each donation you make to one of Jolkona’s Education projects, Brandon will be match, dollar for dollar, up to $4,000. For each donation you make, you will receive a proof of impact for your donation as well as the impact for the matched donation.

The part I love the most about this campaign is Brandon’s call to action – he’s just a normal guy who decided he wanted to make an impact in the world and partnering with us on this campaign is his solution. Anyone can make a difference. And this month, let’s start by making a ripple effect of change through education around the world.

You can support the Give2ED campaign, follow our progress and our total impact on our website, as well as on Facebook and Twitter (@Jolkona, #Give2ED).

Special thank you

On behalf of everyone at Jolkona, I’d like to thank Brandon for coming forward and sponsoring this campaign. I’d also like to thank Sadia Khawaja of PaperDaydream for designing the Give2ED logo and John Kimball for editing the campaign video.

Are you ready to join Brandon and get off the sidelines?

When we announced the MatchED Campaign, we had a big goal ahead of us – raise $5,000 in donations for education projects that will be matched, dollar for dollar, by Waggener Edstrom, doubling the overall impact and funds to $10,000. MatchED was designed to last one month and we are excited to announce that on Monday, Sept. 19th, MatchED was fully funded!

Together, in just one week, here’s the impact we made towards education around the world:

  • Books supplied to 10 classes in Rwanda
  • 12 girls educated in Afghanistan
  • 2 student in Kenya received school supplies
  • 2 Tibetan Student attended summer program
  • 80 books supplied in Tibet
  • 4 year-long scholarships given in Zambia
  • 22 months of tutoring provided in Guatemala
  • 4 students in USA got tech tools
  • 4 chairs provided to students in Sierra Leone
  • 12 Tibetan students educated
  • 28 year-long scholarships given in Guatemala
  • 2 events sponsored at a US school
  • 16 desks provided to a Zambian school

We are thankful to everyone in the Jolkona community for your tremendous support!

For those who donated, you will receive proof of impact for the donation you made and the donation Waggener Edstrom matched on your behalf. Matched gifts will be added to your account in mid-October and you will receive proofs of impact once the projects are implemented.

We are also thankful to Waggener Edstrom for their partnership, leadership, and support of this campaign. We look forward to partnering with them as well as other businesses in the future with campaigns that help further engage the corporate and social sectors.

Investing in education doesn’t stop here.

You can continue to see the support of education projects on the campaign page and by viewing the overall impact we’re making towards the U.N. Millennium Development Goals and other projects around the world.

On our blog, we’ll be sharing stories about the importance of supporting education projects around the world. We have some great guests posts lined up and we’re excited to share them with you!

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GET INVOLVED!