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The School Fund: What One Company is doing to tackle the Global Education CrisisOver 115 million school-age children are not able to attend school worldwide, largely due to compulsory school fees that are required for attendance. In Sub-Saharan Africa, about 63 million adolescents are out of school and only 37 percent of children finish secondary school. One company targeting barriers to education is The School Fund (TSF). Through the collaboration of technology and willing donors looking to make a difference, the organization is able to provide low-income students with the opportunity to receive an education.

The Mission

The School Fund is a crowdfunded, nonprofit organization based in California. One hundred percent of donations go directly toward each student’s unique scholarship. Its mission is to tackle the global education crisis by connecting donors to students in developing countries who cannot afford an education. It stands firmly behind the belief that education is the most effective way to successfully eradicate poverty.

Barriers to Education

The reasons children do not receive secondary education are plenty and vary from location to location. Some of these reasons are the cost of supplies, the long distances that need to be traveled to reach school, safety and cultural norms. When it comes to education, poor and rural areas are especially disadvantaged.

How it Works

The School Fund partners with local organizations in Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America and Southeast Asia. These range from private schools to local public schools, or local scholarship organizations. The Field Partners then select students for the TSF website, including biographies, stories and pictures of the children. Biographies help to keep each donation personal and invested in the growth of each child. Donors then select which student they want to sponsor.

These donors are able to view the breakdown of school costs and receipts on a web platform with complete transparency. Direct journal updates from their sponsored student are available for donors as well, helping to foster the connection between the donor and the student. The School Fund ensures that students are attending school via receipt tracking and field drop-ins.

Outcomes

The School Fund has successfully funded 1,291 students, with many more on the horizon. Since 2009, the organization has raised over $500,000. TSF also found that with just one extra year of secondary education, a student’s lifetime wages have the potential to increase by 10 percent.

TSF has shown a 50 percent growth rate each year in revenue accrued for scholarships. It also connects regularly with its Field Partners to collect updates, including grades and yearly data. This ensures that each student is seeing improvement and growth through their education.

Women in particular benefit from receiving an education. Only one in four girls attend school in many of these developing countries, but of those who do, women have fewer unwanted pregnancies, delay getting married young, have healthier kids and are three times less likely to test positive for HIV. TSF is helping women combat cultural norms and ensuring empowerment for all.

 

Children around the globe continue to face barriers to education. The School Fund is one of many organizations breaking down these obstacles, making sure money is not a deterrent for something that everyone should be entitled to.

Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Pixabay

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There are 63 million secondary school-aged children around the world who are unable to attend school. In West and Central Africa, this number amounts to 40 percent of their youth population. In India, 16 million children of lower and secondary school age do not receive an education. The School Fund works with investors to provide resources and funds to developing regions to help children in need.

On average, an individual’s wage increases 15 to 25 percent for each additional year of schooling he or she receives. Girls and young women who receive an education are far less likely to become a child bride and typically grow up to be healthier and more educated about sex. Women who receive an education are more prone to have healthier children and smaller families. An education can also help girls grow up to become leaders in their communities.

The School Fund operates its services by first helping investors find students to support. This process is determined by selecting a student based on their country, gender, academic interests or fundraising deadlines. The second step helps the investors decide how much to donate, and step three allows the donators to stay in touch with the students they have helped in order to see how they are contributing the funds to their education.

The School Fund has been able to provide scholarships to over 1,100 students in Africa, Asia and Latin America, totaling over US$400,000 in funds used for tuition, uniforms, materials, exam fees and food. Students have been funded by over 3,500 donors, representing more than 1,500 years of education.

The organization was founded by Matt Severson and Andrew Perrault in 2009. Having been friends for many years and sharing interests in both traveling and development, the pair traveled to Tanzania in 2007 while still in high school. While there, they were both touched by how friendly and thoughtful the residents were. Even though many of them lived in poverty, they were still willing to share with the two of them.

During his travels, Matt Severson met a young boy named John Medo. Medo came from a family of seven who lived on US$45 a month. John Medo was intelligent — he had aced all of the exams necessary for secondary school, but his family could not afford the US$150 fee for tuition. When Severson met Medo, he was working to become a farmer. Matt Severson was inspired by John Medo’s kindness and decided to provide funds for his schooling. This marked the beginning of The School Fund.

Over the next two summers, Severson and Perrault worked to expand and build The School Fund from the ground up. Now The School Fund supports students in Tanzania, Haiti, the Philippines and many other places in the world. As Matt Severson puts it, there are many other “John Medos” in the world who need support to attend school. The School Fund plans to continue to connect investors with students in need.

– Julia Hettiger

Sources: The School Fund 1, The School Fund 2, UNICEF
Photo: Ghana Culture Politics