You may remember a story we shared recently about Educate! Scholar Blessed Grace and her successful rabbit-raising business.

We are very proud to report that Blessed's company has been awarded a grant through the International Labor Organization's Youth-To-Youth Fund! The Youth-To-Youth (Y2Y) Fund aims to provide youth led organizations with both funding and capacity building, enabling them to become active participants in the creation of new employment opportunities for youth. Blessed plans to use her Y2Y grant to help empower young women through the rabbit rearing trade, and to improve her home district of Nebbi.

Congratulations, Blessed!

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Educate! is thrilled to announce that we are one of 15 projects selected by the Partnership to Strengthen Innovation and Practice in Secondary Education (PSIPSE), a collaboration between Dubai Cares, Echidna Giving, Intel Foundation, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, The MasterCard Foundation and an anonymous donor. The investments announced by PSIPSE will increase the participation, quality and relevance of secondary education for economically disadvantaged and marginalized children in developing countries.

This keystone partnership, Educate!’s most significant to date, will enable us to expand our proven model to Northern Uganda, reaching over 80 new schools and more than 25,000 additional students in this region alone in 2016. Northern Uganda is a post-conflict region and the most impoverished area of Uganda with a poverty rate twice as high as the next-poorest Ugandan region. PSIPSE’s investment will enable Educate! to improve life outcomes for youth in this vulnerable region by providing them with 21st century business and employability skills.

PSIPSE’s investment will also allow Educate! to make big strides toward international expansion.  This support will open up opportunities to explore program development in other African countries, bringing us one step closer to achieving our 10-Year-Vision of reaching one million youth annually across Sub-Saharan Africa.  

Projects selected by PSIPSE pilot new approaches, bring to scale successful models, and research critical questions about how to improve quality and access in secondary education while reducing costs.  “Secondary education is a critical step in a young person’s journey to higher education or the workforce,” said Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation.  “This partnership is testing new ideas and scaling approaches that have the potential to transform how young people access education, while also improving the quality and relevance of what is being taught.”

The PSIPSE consortium is a major growth partner whose support will enable Educate! to reach the next level as an organization. We are truly thrilled at the prospect of the many lives we will impact together!

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In honor of the first ever World Youth Skills day, Loren Crary, Educate!'s Director of External Relations, and Nicole Goldin, Educate! board member and Senior Associate and Director of the Youth, Prosperity, and Security Initiative at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, each authored a piece discussing the importance of skills-based education.  

Loren's post on Youth Economic Opportunities tackles the question "Are we improving the lives of the students we reach as we enroll more of them?"

"Education is increasingly recognized as the most valuable investment we can make in youth globally. At the highest level, the goal of that education is to improve lives. But are we fulfilling our obligation to invest in education that achieves that goal?"

In her piece "Every Day Should be World Youth Skills Day", Nicole discusses the critical importance of using skills-based education to address the skills gap that is a key contributing factor to the youth employment crisis.

Educate! provides a skills-based model of education that is directly tied to positive life outcomes, including improved livelihoods, increased business and job creation, improved community participation, and improved 21st Century/employability skills.

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On April 25th Educate! held its National Student Business Club competition to exhibit and celebrate the huge achievements of its 2014 Business Clubs! The competition was an opportunity for Scholars to showcase their Club projects, as well as the public speaking, presentation and business skills they learned through Educate!.

Clubs from all of the 238 schools that Educate! partnered with in 2014 were invited to participate in eighteen regional competitions across Central and Eastern Uganda. Judges selected one exceptional Club from each of Educate!’s eighteen Community Units to advance to the National Competition in Kampala, and each Club nominated ten members to represent the Club at Nationals.

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On the day of the Competition, 180 top Educate! Scholars and Club members flooded the St. Augustine Conference Center at Makerere University in Kampala, carrying boxes of their products, marketing banners and Club reports to be submitted for judging. Products ranged from very easy to transport (herbal soaps, all-natural mosquito repellent and shoe cream) to very challenging (energy-efficient incubators and a rabbit hutch with live rabbits!).

Scholars traveled anywhere from one to ten hours to attend the event, and for many students, it was their first-ever trip to the big city. The excitement level continued building throughout the day as Clubs presented their projects to judges and guests, including representatives from the Ministry of Education and National Curriculum Development Centre, Barclays and Centenary Banks and Educate! partner organizations, as well as media outlets, including NTV and the Daily Monitor.

At the end of the day, all eighteen Clubs were recognized for their outstanding achievements, and four Clubs received trophies and cash prizes for accomplishments in innovation, social impact, sustainability and social entrepreneurship. The top 300,000 UGX prize was awarded to St. Anthony’s in Masaka, a rural district southwest of Kampala. St. Anthony’s not only ran a successful business, but used their profits to establish a Savings & Credit Cooperative through which they plan to help members pay university tuition after graduation. See St. Anthony’s and the other winning clubs celebrate here!

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Educate! is thrilled to share that our flagship program, The Educate! Experience, is one of fifteen projects named a 2015 WISE award finalist, chosen for providing one of the most innovative and effective approaches to current global education challenges.

WISE (the World Innovation Summit for Education), was established by the Qatar Foundation in 2009 to identify and promote compelling and innovative solutions to today’s most pressing challenges in education. By promoting collaboration and originality, WISE provides a global platform for the development of new ideas and solutions that will revitalize education. We are thrilled to be a part of this global effort to solve the greatest challenges facing education today.

Stavros N. Yiannouka, Chief Executive Officer of WISE, said, “This year the WISE Awards Finalists again demonstrate how sustainable, creative solutions help overcome barriers to education and transform lives everywhere. These grass roots efforts are having a positive impact on their communities. Our role at WISE is to help disseminate excellence in education on a global scale.” 

It is an honor to have been selected as a 2015 WISE Awards Finalist by a jury of international education experts, and we stand in excellent company among the other Finalist projects. To learn more about the 2015 WISE Awards Finalists see our Press Release.

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Brookings’ Millions Learning Project has featured on their blog a preliminary case study featuring Educate!. The Brookings Institution is the foremost thought leader in international education. We greatly respect their work, and we are thrilled and honored to be featured by them.

Our favorite lines from the feature: 
"Perhaps infused by the DNA of its founders, Educate! is ambitious in its plans and impatient to achieve them. At the same time, it has been thoughtful and deliberate in its expansion—listening and learning from other’s experiences, making difficult choices where needed, and ultimately moving closer to its goal of ensuring that young people in Africa are equipped with the skills and competencies needed to drive long-term sustainable development in their countries."

Brookings’ Center for Universal Education launched the Millions Learning Project to explore ways to improve learning and examine educational programs and policies designed to scale effectively and efficiently. Millions Learning will launch a final study in fall 2015, drawing lessons from a number of cases to help inform future policy, practice and investment decisions.

In the summer of 2014, the project published a blog inviting people and organizations to submit case studies. Out of more than 100 cases reviewed, Educate!’s was chosen as one of 9-12 cases that Millions Learning will look at more in depth and likely to be profiled in their final report! The blog highlights some of Educate!’s successes thus far (investing heavily in monitoring and evaluation, financial sustainability and designing for scale from the outset). The focus of the project is to learn from case studies and research what works and what doesn’t to scale effectively. Educate! hopes to learn even more from the final research as we continue to scale.  We are excited to be working closely with the Brookings Institution on this project!

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Apas Secondary School

Apas Secondary School

Uganda Martyr's High School

Uganda Martyr's High School

Educate! is thrilled to announce an exciting new partnership with The School Fund and Schools Building Schools. A matching gift campaign with these partners will fund four Educate! schools, reaching 350 students per school for a total of 1,400 students! These 1,400 students will have the opportunity to participate in a practical model of education, comprised of leadership and entrepreneurship training, mentorship and experience starting a business. You can join the campaign, learn more about the four schools being funded and double your impact by visiting http://theschoolfund.org/educate.

About our partners

The School Fund is a nonprofit online educational funding platform that connects passionate donors around the world to ensure that all children—no matter where they live—have the opportunity to attend school. The School Fund has funded 1,500 years of education for high-performing but needy students in 15 developing countries. One-hundred percent of online donations to students go directly to covering school fees that otherwise make attending school cost prohibitive. To learn more about The School Fund, check out their website: https://theschoolfund.org/

Schools Building Schools is an entirely volunteer-run and student-led organization that builds infrastructure – classrooms, workshops – for vocational schools in Uganda. SBS also helps create capacity building projects, which can be anything from a business or marketing plan for a school, to small-scale projects that generate revenue for the school and experience for the students. Find out more about Schools Building Schools here: http://www.schoolsbuildingschools.org/

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One of Educate!’s strengths lies in our strong in-country leadership. As of January 2015, our Uganda team is being led by two Ugandan women, Country Director Sarah Kayondo, and Program Director Hawah Nabbuye, who were promoted from their previous roles of Deputy Country Director and Deputy Program Director, respectively.  The strength of our local team in Uganda creates room for our previous Country and Program Directors – now Global Director of Programs and Director of Policy and Partnerships, respectively – to support strategic investments in program quality and to have the time to explore opportunities for new country expansion.

Hawah Nabbuye has been a part of Educate! since 2008. She first served as an Educate! mentor, working directly with students in some of the poorest schools in Kampala. Given her impressive leadership abilities, she quickly rose through the ranks at Educate!. In 2013, Hawah became the first Educate! staff recognized by Acumen as an emerging female African leader.  She has supported and trained over 40 widows and 50 youth to start enterprises as a certified Start and Improve Your Business trainer with the International Labour Organization (Youth Entrepreneurship Facility).

Sarah is the Uganda Country Director at Educate!. She first heard about Educate! from her son who was studying in one of the high schools that Educate! was working with at the time. Sarah is inspired by the attitude and leadership quality of the youth that undergo the Educate! Leadership and Entrepreneurship Course. She truly believes that they are change makers. Sarah, formerly the Head of HR at TechnoServe Uganda, is a graduate of Makerere University and Uganda Management Institute. She is a teacher by profession and very passionate about education.

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Educate! kicked off the 2015 school year in Uganda last month, further scaling our model to reach 250 schools and more than 87,000 students!  This means that we’re reaching 350 youth per school, a number verified by recent monitoring data, which found that in addition to the 40 Scholars who directly receive our leadership and entrepreneurship training program, at least 310 additional students per school benefit from other components of the Educate! Experience. These include working with Experience Association teachers and other school-wide activities such as Student Business Clubs, required peer mentorship by Scholars and Community Days. This is a significant increase from our initial very conservative estimate of 60 additional students impacted through our model.  

Educate! also launched the year with Mentor initiations and community days that were filled with the experiential learning methods on which our model is based. This year almost 100 Mentors participated in these events, which embodied Educate!’s passion for making learning fun. Our Program Officer, Jane Sebuyungo, shared that the Mentors, many of whom are top Graduates of the Educate! program, were giggling with excitement and unable to contain their joy. Mentors were divided into teams and participated in a series of games and a challenging competition to show off their leadership and entrepreneurship skills. The activity that generated the most excitement was the Olympic 100 meter race to pick letters of the alphabet from the buckets at the other end of the race and return to construct a word related to the Leadership and Entrepreneurship Course. 

The initiation also included a community service day where Mentors experienced the power of teamwork and giving back to their high school community by cleaning up trash, gardening and cleaning over 700 chairs. Our Program Officer, Jane Sebuyungo, told us that the teamwork, “was done swiftly with beads of sweat trickling down their smiling faces. The Mentors got their joy and passion from the contentment of having done a community activity that betters society.” 

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Angelica Towne, Co-Founder of Educate!, knows that when girls, their families, and their communities see education as an investment that can have a direct and measurable impact on their lives, more girls will receive the opportunity for a quality education.  “When [girls] see that education can lead to power and independence, they are more likely to pursue education,” she says in a recent interview with AFK Insider. 

Getting more girls in school is also the key to improving the economy and making strides toward gender equality. Good news from Educate!'s recent impact evaluations supports these claims. "While Educate! Graduates earn more than their peers who didn’t participate in the program, incomes rise even faster for girls. They also enjoy a higher overall increase in business ownership and community project participation."

"Given the data, leaders may be wise to place a premium on targeted business education — giving a generation of African women the opportunity to showcase their entrepreneurial spirit." We agree wholeheartedly! Thanks to AFK Insider for an excellent article. Read the full text here: http://afkinsider.com/85410/want-african-entrepreneurs-educate-girls/

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The Global Good Fund Fellowship is a 15-month program supporting the leadership development of young social entrepreneurs across the globe. The Global Good Fund  invests in these innovators by pairing them with executives who serve as Coaches, and by providing leadership assessment resources, a network of peers, sector expertise, and targeted financial capital. Click here find out more about the GGF fellowship. 

Angelica Towne is motivated by the belief that the development of African nations is a necessary step to ending racism globally. As an African American growing up in New York City, she has experienced the positive exchange of resources, support, and skills between communities of the global African diaspora. Angelica would travel to high school everyday from the family shelter where she lived among many immigrants. Her only dream was to attend college because higher education was the promise of a better future. She was awarded a full-tuition merit scholarship to attend college that included one year of youth leadership training.

At Middlebury College, her Pan-African passion turned into transformative action as Angelica began to pilot youth programs in Jamaica and Ethiopia. She witnessed first-hand the low quality, factory style schools in these communities and couldn’t ignore her call to action. All over the African diaspora, the promise of education was being broken by low quality standards and a focus on examinations. She wrote her senior thesis on defining a life-changing education that provides students and their communities the skills to end poverty.

Angelica started Educate! with her cofounders based on the shared values of scale, sustainability, and the power of young people to change the world. Educate! program is now operating in over 250 schools and growing quickly. She also adapted Educate!’s curriculum for use in the Uganda national curriculum and designed a new practical standardized examination, reaching 25,000 young people annually. Angelica is committed to living and working in Africa, starting with building Educate! for over 6 years in Uganda, as she works for the dream of bringing a life-changing education to one million children.

Click here to find out more about the other 2015 Fellows.

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At the end of 2014, a global organization held a national business competition of over 500 schools. Educate! scholars from Kalinabiri Secondary School were awarded the Project Innovation Award! Their projects were liquid soap, shoe polish and crafts. They were interviewed on NTV & UBC and asked how they learned the skills. They replied by thanking their Educate! Mentor and the Educate! organization for equipping them with the knowledge and skills to start their businesses.

They have now started a producer group called Dalmex Shoe Cream, which is supplying shoe polish to Tuskeys, a supermarket chain in Kampala, Uganda. 

Congratulations to the Scholars from Kalinabiri on this tremendous achievement!

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Najjanankumbi Young Christian Secondary School is a mixed boarding and day school located in Uganda’s capital city, Kampala. Educate! has worked in Najjanankumbi since 2013, and the program has made a huge impact on both students and teachers. One teacher involved in Educate!’s teacher training component has been selected in a nationwide innovations in teaching competition for ideas he developed in Educate! seminars. This teacher is a huge advocate of Educate!’s model and interactive teaching methods and will be involved in the final round of the innovations competition in February 2015. Najjanankumbi’s head teacher has also been extremely supportive of his students’ Educate! projects. The head teacher keeps a scrapbook in his office full of photos of the Educate! Business Club activities and is always encouraging his students to aim higher.

When Educate! started working with 2014’s newest class of Scholars, none of the students had personal businesses and many were intimidated by the idea of balancing a start-up enterprise with their schoolwork. As part of the Educate! program, students formed a Student Business Club at the start of the summer and together determined to create a student bakery and a stone paver business.

Since students had little startup capital, they initially created the bakery by borrowing equipment from family and friends in the community. They made a variety of snacks and treats and sold them to students for a fair price that made a good profit. By the end of the summer, the students were so successful with this endeavor that they used the profits to buy their own oven. Students are now able to produce enough baked goods to sell to several grocery stores in their district.

The Educate! students at Najjanankumbi also began making stone pavers in an effort to make a profit and to help their school construct a driveway on the compound. Students learned the ins and outs of stone paver making and selling, and similar to the bakery initiative, began advertising stone pavers to businesses outside of the school. As a result, Najjanankumbi now sells pavers to shopping centers and construction sites and reinvests this profit back into the Educate! Student Business Club.

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In a thought-provoking recent article from AFKInsider about the dangers of predatory microlending, Loren Crary, Educate!'s Director of External Relations, offered some perspective about the role of microfinance in developing small enterprises.

The article notes that many of the world's poorest have become overburdened by debt from microfinance institutions, and that microfinance's true effects are not well-understood. The author wonders if perhaps there is a safer alternative to debt for encouraging entrepreneurs from the bottom of the pyramid. 

Loren comments that in the Educate! model, "while the organization does partner with microlenders and teaches students about accessing capital, the students’ age puts a necessary boundary around borrowing." Instead of encouraging scholars to take out large sums of money in debt, Educate! provides education about how to save and build capital. Loren offered the following example:  "We teach stuff like how to make liquid soap. It’s not a high margin business but there’s almost always a market, so it’s a way for people just starting out to build capital so they can invest in their next project.”

Savings and financial literacy are crucial components of the Educate! model. One key indicator we focus on in evaluating our programs is whether graduates have adopted formal savings strategies and created business plans. Our scholars are always our top priority, and we are proud to champion rigorous monitoring and evaluation of our programs. 

We thank Loren and AFKInsider for this fresh perspective. See the full article here: http://afkinsider.com/78754/unchecked-microfinance-overburdens-poor-south-africans/

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A recent article at AFKInsider interviewed Educate! Director of External Relations Loren Crary about the potential of entrepreneurship to fuel development in African countries. Speaking about Educate! scholars, Loren says, “When you see what small investment in a young person’s skills can do and where they can take it, it’s really exciting.” 

At Educate!, we believe that African youth are an untapped resource, and that youth can fuel the creation of a robust market economy. Through mentorship, business skills training, and practical experience, Educate! scholars are prepared to start their own businesses and to be part of the solution to youth unemployment and poverty. 

In addition, the article notes that development goals are served by a focus on entrepreneurship: "entrepreneurship might also present a path to steady and powerful economic growth. After all, the American economy rests firmly on the strength of its small businesses, which comprise about half of the private sector and 99% of all firms. Could the same hold true for Africa? More immediately, growing entrepreneurship also means the potential for more home-grown multinationals, and for attracting foreign partners, investors, and acquirers." 

Educate! is proud to support the young leaders of Africa. We thank Loren for her insightful words and AFKInsider for a thought-provoking article! Read it for yourself here: 

http://afkinsider.com/78500/entrepreneurial-potential-bottom-africas-pyramid/
 

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Educate! Graduate Blessed was featured in a story in the Ugandan Daily Monitor today. Blessed has a successful rabbit raising business that she started after tasting rabbit for the first time at her grandmother's house back in February. She checked all the shops and supermarkets but could not find any that sold rabbit meat, and she immediately decided to fill that niche.

Photo BY D. BUKENYA. Daily Monitor

Photo BY D. BUKENYA. Daily Monitor

Using the entrepreneurial skills she learned through Educate! at Namugongo Secondary and Vocational school in Jjanda, she purchased 5 rabbits-1 male and 4 females. Four months later she boasts 70 rabbits on her farm, collects rabbits from other farmers, and employs 5 people to help her process the rabbits to make meat and sausages. Her business makes almost $200 a month and she is saving money to expand her business and to pay for her university tuition.

Educate! is proud of Blessed and her successful rabbit raising business!

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After launching Satiety Bakery, a cake business he started while a student and Educate! Scholar in his remote village in Uganda, Ernest nearly gave up. “I thought it was too much work,” he said. “But Educate! picked me up.”

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Ernest credits his Educate! Mentor with giving him the motivation to persist in his business. “I started putting in more effort. I started packaging my products and I would go with a sample and tell businesses they can earn money by selling my products. Mentor Carole has watched over me like a saint and my business has grown and grown.”

Ernest’s experience, and the power of the Educate! model, were validated in a recent Gallup study. The research explored the linkages between education and long-term success in the workplace and found:

Successful students had one or more teachers who were mentors and took a real interest in their aspirations, and they had an internship related to what they were learning in school. 

Gallup found that students needed not just to learn skills; they needed someone to mentor them while they learned them and to put those skills into practice. This type of education is exactly what Educate! works to integrate into secondary education systems in Africa.

The growing frustration of unemployed youth in Uganda, and elsewhere in Africa, underscores the urgent need for proven solutions, like Educate!, to the high youth unemployment rates all over Sub-Saharan Africa. With 94% of Educate! graduates running a business, holding a job, or attending university we’re thrilled to bring our model to more youth through our plans to scale massively and reach 1 million youth annually across Africa in 10 years.

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A recent McKinsey Voices post by Fred Swaniker, Founder and CEO of African Leadership Academy, focuses on the importance of providing Africa's youth bulge with opportunity and specifically entrepreneurial training. Swaniker concludes that Africa is a "ticking time bomb" unless African youth are provided with the skills to create their own jobs, just like the Educate! program does. Check it out!

"So what does the average unemployed youth look like in Africa? She is an 18-year-old girl, living in a rural area, literate but not attending school. Building her skills, reaping her energy, and realizing her aspirations would help every African country improve its living standards and ignite economic growth. Empowering her with opportunities to reach and apply her full potential is both our most important challenge and our most vital opportunity."

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