September 2018

 A lazy summer? Not really!

Like many of you, 60 million girls’ wonderful team of volunteers takes a well-deserved holiday during July and August. However, our work doesn’t stop completely, especially as our 2017-2018 evaluation project of the Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) in Sierra Leone recently came to a close.

In Kabala in northern Sierra Leone, our partner, CAUSE Canada, was hard at work in June and July gathering data from the 750 students who participated in the evaluation project. These students came from five different communities and had access to the MLL on a self-directed basis for two hours per week between November 2017 to July 2018.

CAUSE staff coordinated the math, literacy and non-cognitive tests administered to all the students. This data will form the basis of our analysis of the MLL’s impact on these students versus students in two control communities without MLLs. The monumental task of gathering all this information included assembling the students, distributing and correcting the tests, and then inscribing the results to assigned ID numbers (to ensure the confidentiality and anonymity of the participants). We also gathered socio-demographic data, coordinator reports and attendance records for every student.

A huge shout-out from all of us to CAUSE’s amazing team in Sierra Leone, along with Calgary-based Casey Kennedy, for their professionalism, their painstaking work, their enthusiasm and their initiative in meeting all the challenges.

And now our R&D team has the task of combing through all the quantitative and qualitative data to determine the impact of the MLL – and guide future projects using this innovative tool.

There was much anecdotal evidence from the field showing the MLL’s positive impact, as seen in these photos.


These are the children who lined up outside the MLL in the hopes that some students wouldn’t show up and they could take their place.


Teachers commented on the enthusiasm and initiative in the classroom of those students who had access to the MLL.


Strong peer support developed among the MLL participants that went beyond their time there – helping each other and strengthening bonds in their community activities.

We have our work cut out for us over the next month. Our objective is to have an initial analysis completed in time for our annual conference.

Wanda Bedard
President, 60 million girls

Our annual conference

SAVE THE DATE: Monday, November 12th

From promise to reality: self-directed digital learning – the Mobile Learning Lab around the world

Our keynote speaker, Taylor Thompson, leads partnerships at Curious Learning to develop new products and reach new users. Created as a research project at Tufts and MIT, Curious Learning is a non-profit that builds free mobile software to help kids learn to read. They have shown, through testing in Ethiopia and other countries, that children can teach themselves to read from mobile apps.

In fact, Curious Learning is building a set of open source learning apps that provide a path to literacy in more than 50 languages. We are impressed – and we hope you will be too.

Learning apps, such as Feed the Monster, are not just video games; they are powerful learning tools. During the conference, we will show you how quality content has been developed for educational digital programs available on the RACHEL-Plus server, an integral part of the MLL.

The MLL is a low-cost, highly flexible and customizable tool now in use in Sierra Leone, Nicaragua, Tanzania, Uganda, the DRC and, next year, will move into Guatemala and Liberia. During the conference, we will share how our partners are using the MLL in a variety of different ways.

We hope you will join us to learn more about the long-term impact self-directed digital learning can have for the children who need it most.

Take the time now to purchase your ticket and see for yourself just how much impact your investment has in these 60 million girls’ projects.

We look forward to seeing you on November 12th!

Royal West Academy makes a difference

Royal West Academy has a long tradition of awareness and action on social justice issues. Its Social Justice Club is a perfect example of this tradition. The club consists of determined students who wish to effect positive change in the world. Each week, the members select and discuss a social injustice and what can be done to remedy the problem. One week of the year is dedicated to daily seminars where an injustice is presented and guest speakers are invited to discuss the issue. In addition to these initiatives, the club fundraises throughout the year for local charitable organizations. This past school year, it chose three charities: the Mackay Centre, the NDG Food Depot and 60 million girls.

The club’s endeavours amassed an astounding $3,500 for the Foundation! We are tremendously grateful for the students’ hard work. Thank you!

 

 

July 2018

A busy spring!

The last six months have been very busy for 60 million girls in a new and positive way: we have received seven requests for information on how to set up a Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) from organizations in various countries around the world! From the DRC to Sri Lanka, to Morocco and Pakistan, among others, news of our work in developing the MLL has ignited the interest of many NGOs working in the field and looking for ways to improve learning in their specific communities.

We had already recognized the significant impact of the MLL in our own projects with our partners in Sierra Leone (CAUSE Canada), Tanzania (the Stephen Lewis Foundation/MWEDO) and Nicaragua (Change for Children). Consequently, we felt compelled to give the Foundation a strategic approach to further support the rollout and expansion of the concept of self-directed learning, as well as using the MLL within more formal classroom/teacher training and other learning settings.

With this in mind, we decided to set up a one-day conference on May 14th in Montreal to showcase the MLL. The event was meant to be an opportunity to share ideas and possibilities of how the MLL could have the greatest impact in the field. Therefore, we decided to invite the experts: Canadian NGOs from across the country that have expertise in girls’ education projects in the developing world, content developers from Canada and the US who have created and implemented academic content aimed at primary and secondary students in a variety of subjects and languages, and tech NGOs that provide the platform to curate and distribute the content in the field.

Participants from 23 different Canadian and American NGOs and seven Canadian and American content and tech developers, including World Possible, Learning Equality and Curious Learning, actively shared their experiences and outlooks, discussed how the MLL might be used in existing programs and the constraints they saw to the introduction of technology in the field. We had rich conversations about amazing networking opportunities that would encourage new perspectives and relationships throughout the international development community. We were very pleased to welcome the Martin Family Initiative among the participants, as a first link with NGOs and foundations that work in Canada’s indigenous communities.

Here are the 10 videos of our event:

  1. 60 million girls: Self-directed Learning and its Impact on Education https://youtu.be/uBC5zhHvEuY
  2. What is 60 million girlshttps://youtu.be/zxTGeLI8J-o
  3. World Possible: Have You Met RACHEL? https://youtu.be/12U1FFuSpoE
  4. World Possible: Connecting Learners to Knowledge https://youtu.be/ZXSAEjiLZOo
  5. Collège Sainte-Anne: Yuva Project 2018 in Nepal https://youtu.be/sAQlwdVsDwQ
  6. Curious Learning: What is Feed the Monster? https://youtu.be/PU-lnkTlLIs
  7. Stephen Lewis Foundation: Education Access for Underprivileged Maasai Girls in Tanzania https://youtu.be/BTZDc3faGks
  8. Learning Equality: Introducing Kolibri https://youtu.be/l9VEa0ANXLw
  9. Change for Children: Technology for Improved Education in Guatemala https://youtu.be/-7oEUgni-zM
  10. CAUSE Canada: Integrated Learning Resource Centre and Mobile Learning in Sierra Leone https://youtu.be/PmPaWhI_4Nw

What did we learn?

      • There are many potential ways to use the MLL concept in education projects, as well as in other fields such as water management, health and agriculture.
      • In education, we talked about experiences in using the MLL from self-directed learning – putting the technology directly in the hands of students – to its use for teacher training and increasing learning material in classrooms with few textbooks and teaching aids.
      • We discussed the importance of ongoing field evaluations of the MLL to understand its reach and impact. We spoke about our 8-month evaluation project in Sierra Leone where we are following 750 grade 4,5 and 6 students. Change for Children presented its past work in Nicaragua with the RACHEL technology in the program we supported, as well as the upcoming 18-month project that we are funding in 2019. This project will include setting up technology centres in two communities in the western highlands of Guatemala for indigenous Maya-Mam students, as well as additional MLLs that will reach another 33 communities in Comitancillo.
      • We know that children love using the technology to learn! We have seen it ourselves time and time again. Put a tablet in their hands and they will amaze us with their capacity to learn. We have learned not to underestimate what these children can accomplish when you give them the freedom to learn on their own.

With the rich data and experience obtained at the event and in many other conversations with NGOs and researchers throughout the past years, 60 million girls is in a better position to assess where we can have the greatest impact to ensure that students everywhere have access to the best possible content as quickly as possible. As always, we want to know how our funds – your donations – can best be leveraged to improve learning outcomes for the most vulnerable and marginalized girls, and boys, around the world.

Wanda Bedard
President, 60 million girls Foundation

 

February 2018

A new year, new projects, new countries…

Every fall, our project evaluation team has the huge task of choosing the best girls’ education project in which to invest. We look for projects that are innovative and thoughtful, well anchored in the needs of their community, and managed by experienced partners with a deep knowledge of the context in which they work. We want our funds, our investment, to have the greatest impact possible.

We invite a group of pre-selected potential partners to first submit an expression of interest to introduce their best projects to us. From those proposals, we narrow down our choices to 5 to 6 projects that we feel best represent our goals, objectives and philosophy. These organizations are then invited to submit a full project proposal that includes their budget, timeline, financial results, and monitoring and evaluation plans.

From this information, our four-person team independently evaluates each proposal and then we start the discussions together as a group. We each bring our particular perspective and experience to evaluate which projects we feel will have the most transformative impact in the community.

Each year, the choice is difficult as our partners put forward high-quality proposals. But choose we must! And we have. All three projects target girls, and boys, in three very different contexts and in very vulnerable situations for a total investment of $300,000.

In the refugee camp of Nduta in Tanzania, we will be working with our partner, World University Service of Canada, to support remedial classes for Burundian adolescent girls, many of whom are not attending school and who are particularly at risk of gender-based violence. The goal of the project is to provide them with a safe space to improve their literacy and math skills, and provide social support to ensure they stay in school or are at least better equipped to face the harsh conditions they live in.

In Liberia, we will fund a project with our partner, CODE Canada. CODE’s GALI project will support girls who are overage for the grade they are in. The after-school program will provide literacy and math instruction to help the girls accelerate their skills to allow them to enter a more age-appropriate class level. These students are at high risk of dropping out because of the pressure and demands they face. The girls will also have access to health and reproduction information to help them navigate the particularly crucial turning point of adolescence. When girls stay in school at puberty, the risk of early marriage and pregnancy decrease dramatically, and potential income increases 15-25% for each additional year of schooling.

For our third project, we will be working with Change for Children once again – this time in Guatemala. The project there will take place in the indigenous communities of the Maya-Mam in the Western Highlands. Two technology hubs will be constructed in the isolated rural areas where fewer than 30% of students attend high school. Based on the model of our Mobile Learning Lab (MLL), these hubs will house the RACHEL-Plus server and tablets to enable teachers and students alike to access some of the most up-to-date, interactive and high quality academic content available.  As well, Change for Children will have 8 additional MLLs that will travel in 33 communities bringing amazing learning tools where they are needed most.

It is only with your support that we can invest in such strong transformative education projects.

Thank you!

Wanda Bedard
President, 60 million girls Foundation

Teenagers step up to make a difference

For the past 17 years, Beaconsfield High School has held a variety show and this year was no exception. In the past, the proceeds of this tremendously popular fundraiser have gone to support charities in countries such as Nepal and Malawi. However, this year, Cassandra Bedard, a grade 8 student, approached Nancy Dubuc, BHS’s community service animator and the show’s organizer, with the proposal that the proceeds of the variety show go to benefit 60 million girls.

The variety show, held on January 18th and 19th, featured 26 acts and highlighted the many talents of the school’s students. Over 2½ hours, the audiences were treated to a medley of singers, dancers and several bands, as well as a beautiful rendition of Hallelujah by Ceri Howe and Rick O’Loughlin, and a surprise cameo on saxophone by the school’s music director, Phil Legault. Other staff members also contributed greatly to the success of the show.

On the opening night, Wanda introduced the Foundation and described the mobile learning lab and its use in our new project in Guatemala. The following evening, Nancy repeated this message. Several people made generous donations to the Foundation and, in addition, Cassandra and her friends sold 60 million girls’ t-shirts. Over the course of the two evenings, the variety show raised approximately $4,000 to benefit our project.

We are very grateful for the enormous commitment and enthusiasm of the students of Beaconsfield High School. You have made a difference!

Looking towards the future of education

60 million girls will present our very first showcase event this coming May 14th in Montreal. We will gather together Canadian NGOs in the field of education, as well as IT specialists, academics and developers, to formally present the Mobile Learning Lab (MLL) and discuss the possibilities for the future of technology in education in the developing world.

The potential is exciting. Our R&D team continues to explore innovative ways to harness technology to increase learning in isolated rural communities where qualified teachers are desperately needed and where books and class teaching aids hardly exist.

The event is by invitation only. If you are interested in participating, please contact us before March 15th at info@60milliongirls.org.

December 2017

Double your IMPACT! $1 = $2gift

For the second time this year, supporters of 60 million girls will generously match all donations up to $10,000.

So, your gift of $50, $100 or $500 is now worth twice as much. With your help, we will have more to invest in education for vulnerable children.

Please give by December 22nd to DOUBLE the impact of your gift!

60 million girls invests in innovative educational initiatives for vulnerable children, especially girls, to improve the quality of education.

Did you know that, globally, there are 617 million children and youth who do not meet minimum proficiency levels in reading and math? In Sub-Saharan Africa, where the need is greatest, nearly 9 out of 10 children are not learning. We are working hard to change that.

We believe that, while the magnitude of the need is huge, touching the life of even one child can make all the difference for that individual. Every child has the right to a quality education. You can help!

We are small organization making a big impact!

All funds raised this year will go towards our projects in sub-Saharan Africa. In Sierra Leone, we have set up our new “plug and play” Mobile Learning Lab to improve learning outcomes. And, in Tanzania, our project will support 100 secondary girls in the Maasai Mara – a region where most girls are married by age 14. You can read about our projects HERE.

This holiday season, don’t underestimate the gift of supporting education.
Please help us
reach our 2017 target of $200,000.
It takes only a
 click to make the world a better place.

Are you searching for the perfect gift for that special person in your life? Make a donation and ask us to send a card in your name with a message of your choice. And, if you give before December 22nd, you can DOUBLE the impact of your gift.

All donations are 100% tax deductible. An income tax receipt will be mailed to you in February 2018.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

Every bit counts: big and small

The generosity of so many 60 million girls supporters allows us to invest in projects to further girls’ education in developing countries. We couldn’t do so much without the gifts from so many organizations and individuals across Canada. THANK YOU!

Here are a few special examples of giving that really made a difference:

The Study, a girls’ private school in Montreal, chose to support the Foundation through their annual bazaar, a longstanding school tradition, and an event much anticipated by the student body. This student-led initiative involves the entire school: the senior students sell delicious treats, offer awesome raffle prizes and devise clever guessing games, as well as face painting and a haunted house for the younger children. In an assembly held at the beginning of December, the students presented us with a cheque for $5,000. We are delighted!

Another example of community involvement in our cause is Bluedrop Performance Learning, a company headquartered in St John’s. For the last three years, it has held an online auction, donating the proceeds to 60 million girls. What a thoughtful initiative!

The generous gestures of individuals, such as Zachary Fieldsend, also make a real difference. On August 27th, Zachary and his sister Chelsea ran the half marathon in Quebec City. Encouraged by a close friend, Kassandra Berardelli, a member of our Executive, Zachary set up a fundraising page on Facebook and asked people to donate to support his run – and 60 million girls. We are so happy that he did!

Again, thank you so much to all of our supporters far and wide.

12th annual conference

Ndinini Kimesera Sikar

Our annual conference, which was held on November 16th, was tremendously successful. Of the approximately 170 guests who attended, there were students from McGill and Concordia Universities, as well as Collège Sainte-Anne, Collège Reine-Marie and two groups of grade 5 students from The Priory.  Click here to read more.

Do you want to learn more about girls’ education and what we do? You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

 

 

October 2017

From Tanzania to MontrEal!

Please join us on Thursday, November 16th, for an evening with Ndinini Kimesera Sikar, co-founder of MWEDO – Masaai Women’s Development Organization. Ndinini will share her story as a Masaai woman growing up in Tanzania with limited opportunities for education and employment. In fact, only 1% of girls from these communities make it to high school.

Despite many obstacles, Ndinini succeeded in earning an MBA. She worked for many years as a human resource and corporate relationship manager. In 2005, along with two other Masaai women, she decided to return to their community and put in place an organization aimed specifically at supporting girls and women, especially through education.

Please join us at the BAnQ (Bibliothèque et Archives nationales du Québec) on November 16th. We look forward to sharing this event with you to showcase one of the projects 60 million girls is supporting this year.

Hear firsthand just how a quality education can transform a teenage girl’s future. To buy a ticket, click here.

And from Montreal to Sierra Leone!

Our to-do list to equip the Mobile Learning Labs:

Solar charging systems – DONE
RACHEL-Plus Wi-Fi servers – DONE
Amazing new educational content – DONE

The Mobile Learning Labs (MLLs) will open their doors to 750 grade 4, 5 and 6 students in five communities in early October in Koinadugu District in northern Sierra Leone. Using 7-inch tablets, the students will have access to more high quality educational content than they have ever seen. Some content is available in video format as e-books, games and interactive programs. In addition, there is a myriad of educational content: English, math, biology, chemistry, geography, coding and more. The students will also have access to information on everything from health to agriculture to business. They will be able to visit their local MLL, for two hours per week, from October to June. There, the students will be able to work on anything they want or need at their own pace. Set up in a completely self-directed space, the MLL allows students to work independently or in peer groups. Our pilot trials have already shown tremendous interest and engagement on the part of the students. Now, we will begin measuring the impact of the MLL on academic achievement and on non-cognitive skills such as self-confidence, intrinsic motivation and aspirations for future success.

Take a look at our short video to understand what the MLL is all about!

Wanda Bedard
President, 60 million girls

Making a difference

If you ever wondered if just one individual can make a difference, just read about Catherine and Helen. They decided to make a difference by supporting 60 million girls so that girls in Tanzania and Sierra Leone could have a quality education

Under the name Moveable Feast, Catherine hosted gourmet dinners to intimate gatherings of Vancouverites for a number of years. She gave this up last year only to start up again this fall, this time as a social enterprise. Each month, Catherine offers tempting, delicious menus to food lovers – with all profits being donated to 60 million girls. In addition to offering delectable meals, Catherine talks about the Foundation and its work.

Thank you, Catherine, for your marvellous initiative.

Helen Pantelis is a long-standing supporter of 60 million girls. At the end of the summer, Helen, ably assisted by family members, hosted a cocktail dinner in her home to benefit the Foundation. To inform her guests about the Foundation, she scattered a wealth of facts about 60 million girls around her house. In addition, Wanda was invited to speak. She talked about the benefits of girls’ education and described our recent projects in Tanzania and Sierra Leone. A $50 donation was requested but many guests gave much more.

The event was an enormous success. We are so grateful to Helen, her family and all the guests who were so generous.

 

THANK YOU BOTH FOR MAKING A DIFFERENCE!

 

Moving from interest to action
By Emily Robertson

I was introduced to 60 million girls as a high school student at Queen of Angels Academy, an all-girls school in Montreal. Every year, each student took part in helping to fundraise for 60 million girls and raising awareness about it in their communities. My introduction to 60 million girls piqued my interest to understand gender inequality, which prevents girls in the developing world from receiving access to a quality education. It was my motivation to get involved and do something to change this injustice.

I am currently at Queen’s University studying political science with a focus on international relations. This has given me the opportunity to learn how governments work and helped me to understand international development and how organizations, such as 60 million girls, can make a difference. This summer, I have been working in Montreal and wanted to get involved with 60 million girls again. I was inspired by their recent project involving the RACHEL-Plus, technology used in an after-school program to further educate children using solar-powered wireless tablets. I wanted to volunteer and help out, and was given the opportunity to help with some of the research data of this amazing project.

This has given me great insight into the work being done by 60 million girls. I have met some incredibly dedicated and resourceful people. This experience has reinforced my passion for both education and international development. I am so grateful for this opportunity and hope to continue volunteering for this organization in whatever way I can. I have learned that ordinary citizens like myself can make a difference.

MAY 2017

LUNCHEON AT THE BEACONSFIELD GOLF CLUB

Beaconsfield Golf Club

Please join us for a luncheon on Wednesday, May 31st, at the Beaconsfield Golf Club. Wanda Bedard, our founder and president, and Debbie Frail, a member of our executive committee, will discuss the impact of our innovative Mobile Learning Lab in Sierra Leone. In addition, Wanda will share stories and discoveries of her recent trip there.

The luncheon will take place at the Beaconsfield Golf Club from 12:00-1:30 pm (with registration from 11:30 am). The tickets may be purchased for $100 each. Tax receipts of $50 will be issued in February 2018.

To buy tickets, please click here. (The deadline to register is May 22nd.)

International Women’s Day – Vancouver

By Paula Gallagher

I was excited to be invited to be a panel member of the University Women’s Club of Vancouver’s at Hycroft annual event celebrating International Women’s Day on March 8th. This year’s theme, Educating Women and Girls Changing Our Communities and the World, was a perfect fit for the 60 million girls Foundation!

(l. to r.): Paula Gallagher, Dorothy Shaw, Lois Nahirney

My co-panelists were Dr Dorothy Shaw, a renowned gynecologist and obstetrician, and Lois Nahirney, chair of the Premier’s Women’s Economic Council. Dr Shaw provided an overview of women’s and maternal health issues internationally and in Canada, and Ms Nahirney illustrated the continuing challenges that women face in the workplace. My focus, of course, was on the need to educate all girls, and to highlight the overwhelming evidence proving the benefits of education to the girls individually, their families, communities and nations.

The talks were very well received. We broke into small groups for additional discussions and questions. Many of the attendees were surprised at the number of girls still unable to access a basic primary education.

The event was a success: enjoyable and informative to participants and panellists alike. I know it certainly raised awareness of the ongoing and pressing need for prioritizing girls’ education!

Many thanks to UWCV for its continuing support and advocacy on behalf of girls and women.

Watch this inspiring talk given by our president and founder at theTEDxMontrealWomen event.

SPEED NETWORKING FOR YOUNG PROFESSIONALS
60 million girls will be hosting a speed networking event 
for young professionals at the end of the month. 
Stay tuned for exact date and details on our Facebook page!

February 2017

A new year!

Thanks to you, we reached our 2016 campaign goal with flying colours. Your generous actions and donations mean that the wonderful Peer Literacy Program in Sierra Leone with our partner, CAUSE Canada, will be funded for two full years. As well, this past November, I was able to personally deliver the final version of our innovative Mobile Learning Lab (MLL).

In 2017, we will continue to fund that amazing program and add another to our long list of investments in girls’ education: supporting Maasai girls in Tanzania through the Stephen Lewis Foundation and their local partner, Maasai Women Development Organization (MWEDO).

Our $100,000 for this ground-breaking project in Tanzania will enable 100 girls to attend high school for the first time, with all expenses covered: food and lodging, tuition fees, school supplies, health support and community engagement. In this part of Tanzania, where only 1 in 100 girls attends high school, our funding will have a major impact.

We are very proud to be working once again with the Stephen Lewis Foundation, which has been an excellent partner since our first project together in 2006. Their rigour, transparency, experience and strong values in support of women and their communities are very much aligned with our beliefs and perspective.

Thank you for your belief in the transformative impact of girls’ education!

Wanda Bedard,
President

Watch Wanda’s inspiring TED talk: Girls’ education in the developing world.

Can you help us with freight costs to ship 150 tablets to Sierra Leone? If you can help, please contact Wanda at info@60milliongirls.org.

SAVE THE DATE: Luncheon at the Beaconsfield Golf Club
Wednesday, May 31st  

A donor’s perspective

By Paula Gallagher

Donors and volunteers are the heart of the 60 million girls Foundation. We thought a profile of one of our West Coast donors would demonstrate the strength of the Foundation, the pride in its accomplishments, and show the optimism for future endeavours.

Linda M. lives on Vancouver Island. I asked Linda to answer four questions. Her answers are eloquent and self-explanatory.

What is your background, and how did you develop an interest in educating girls?
I have been an elementary school teacher, employed in both the public and private sectors during the ’70s and ’80s, a self-employed woman in business in the ’90s, a Rotarian sharing their great service values, and have volunteered several times for a literacy project in a poor community in Mexico. I have seen how women in some cultures are the ones who tend the families and want to make life better for their children. Studies show that, when women (and girls) are educated, their health improves and, in turn, their families and their communities thrive.

How did you find 60 million girls Foundation?
A few years ago, I read an article in, I think, The Globe & Mail, about significant Canadians who have individually set up charitable helping organizations to make a difference in the poorer parts of our world. Wanda and 60 million girls were featured. I sent a donation in to help at the time, and have continued to receive the newsletter to stay connected. Last year, I read about the pilot project in Sierra Leone and was able to send a donation to help with the purchase of the tablets.

Going forward, are you satisfied with the impact of your donation?
I am very happy that my donation helped the start-up of this project, and that it has been a big success. The challenge, as with all projects, is to keep the fire burning strong with energy, funding and support, as the project evolves and faces challenges on its path to meet its goals.

What are you hoping to see in the future of 60 million girls Foundation?
60 million girls carefully reviews the thousands of ways they can assist girls and women to make a better world, and I believe they will always pick the projects that do the most good most effectively and efficiently with the funds at hand. I believe that it’s wiser to do a great job on a smaller scale, than attempt bigger projects and spread yourself too thinly. This seems to be the approach of 60 million girls and, with its collaboration with other charitable organizations, I believe its future will be as successful and impactful as its past.

Thank you to Linda, and to all the donors like her. You are educating women and girls and creating a better world.

Defining success

How do we define success?

This past December, the first cohort of students graduated from Oleleshwa’s All Girls Secondary School in Kenya. Two members of our executive committee travelled to Kenya, at their own expense, to witness firsthand the pride and joy of this event. In 2007, through our partner, WE (formerly Free The Children), we supported the Oloosiyoi Primary School project in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya. Recognizing the importance of secondary education, it was a natural extension to support the girls graduating from the elementary school, in both 2013 and 2014, by funding the Oleleshwa secondary school. And, now, the girls have graduated!

This is our definition of success!

Jambo from Kenya!

By Negin Atashband and Kassandra Berardelli

With elementary graduation rates increasing in the Maasai Mara region of Kenya, 60 million girls was one of the partners to help WE build a new school for girls, Oleleshwa Girls Secondary School, in 2013. We were beyond excited and grateful at the opportunity to celebrate the graduation of the inaugural class, on the last day of 2016, and to witness first-hand the impact of 60 million girls’ support.

Visit to Massi’s home

Visit to Massi’s homeThe day before the Oleleshwa girls’ graduation, we were fortunate to have a private visit of the school grounds, guided by two lovely graduates, Massi and Faith. In this video, Faith talks about life at school. Later, we were welcomed at Massi’s home, where she shared her aspiration of becoming a doctor with us. Her family expressed great pride in their daughter’s accomplishments, and said how this would positively affect their lives. They expressed gratitude towards the school supporters, who made dreams like Massi’s come true.

As we arrived to celebrate the graduation of both the Oleleshwa and Milimani secondary schools, we were immersed in a joyful sea of schoolgirls and community members, singing and welcoming us. The crowd was immense and joyous. Some had walked for several hours to participate in the celebrations. They understood full well the positive ripple effect that this group of girls would have on their communities. As the girls walked into the spotlight, a huge storm cloud appeared. However, this was such a wonderful omen as rain is considered a blessing in the Maasai culture and this was a blessed event. As the girls received their diplomas, their personal goals and aspirations were announced. Their goals included becoming teachers, doctors, journalists, engineers, and even president of the country! They all aspired to use their education to support and improve their community.

The celebration continued with speeches, musical performances, and releasing doves. The graduates, families and supporters joined in singing, taking pictures, and sharing the joy and the emotions of this special day. (Video) Congratulations to the graduates, from all of us at 60 million girls and all our supporters!

Our stay in the Mara did not end with the marvellous event. We were delighted to also learn about other impactful and sustainable WE projects, connect with so many amazing people, and celebrate the opening of Ngulot All Boys Secondary School. Our heartfelt gratitude to WE for enabling us to participate in this unforgettable, meaningful and inspiring experience!

Wanda’s upcoming speaking engagements

March 14th: Canadian Federation of University Women (CFUW), Sherbrooke
April 28th: The 2nd World Conference on Blended Learning 2017 (IABL2017), hosted by George Brown College, Toronto. For more information or tickets, contact www.iabl2017.org.
May 9th: Conference for Advanced Life Underwriting (CALU) – 26th Annual General Meeting, Ottawa

BC Chapter news

We are continuing to keep busy on the wet West Coast, spreading the word about educating girls and the work that 60 million girls Foundation is doing. In November, Paula Gallagher gave a presentation to 50 members of the University Women’s Club of White Rock. They were a very attentive and appreciative audience. In February, Paula will be speaking to a larger audience at the University Women’s Club of Richmond.

On International Women’s Day, March 8th, Paula will be part of a panel at Hycroft, the University Women’s Club of Vancouver. This event, Educating Women and Girls – Changing our Communities and the World, is open to the public. Further information regarding tickets can be found at uwcv@uwcvancouver.ca or by contacting Paula Gallagher at gallagherpaula4@gmail.com.

December 2016

Double your IMPACT! $1 = $2gift

For the second time this year, a long-time supporter of 60 million girls has generously offered to match all donations up to a total value of $10,000 for a period of 10 days.

So, your gift of $50, $100 or $500 is now worth twice as much. With your help, we will have more to invest in education for vulnerable children.

60 million girls is dedicated to investing in innovative educational initiatives for children in developing countries. Barriers to education, like poverty, disability and conflict, can be high, and girls are often disproportionately affected.

Did you know that there are 263 million children and youth out of school? And, many children who are in school are not getting a quality education due to overcrowded classes and poorly trained teachers. We are working toward changing that.

We are small organization making a big impact!

Funds raised this year will help finance our project in Sierra Leone where have set up a Mobile Learning Lab that uses innovative educational technologies to improve learning outcomes and to give children an extra educational boost.

This holiday season, don’t underestimate the gift of supporting education. Please help us reach our 2016 target of $200,000. It takes only a click to make a donation and to make the world a better place.

Are you searching for the perfect gift for that special person in your life? Make a donation and ask us to send a card in your name with the message of your choice. And, if you give before December 18th, you can DOUBLE the impact of your gift.

All donations are 100% tax deductible. An income tax receipt will be mailed to you in February 2017.

We wish you all a wonderful holiday season!

Notes from Sierra Leone: The first test

By Wanda Bedard,
November 25th

I’m overwhelmed…. If I had to script the results of our test today, I couldn’t have imagined a better scenario. And, if I hadn’t been there to see it myself, I probably wouldn’t have believed it.

Each child received the turned off tablet on their desk without instructions. Samuel and Matthew then went to the front of the class talking to each other with their backs to the children.

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The students seemed surprised and intrigued to have this device given to them.

The children figured out how to use the tablet and how to access information. All with no adult instruction or interaction.

Within 30 seconds, one student figured out how to turn on the tablet. Within a minute, every tablet was on. In another minute, kids were taking photos and videos. They took photos of everything, including each other taking photos! Some figured out how to modify the pictures and put them together in a collage. They experimented with portrait and landscape and learned that, if they rotated the tablet, the image would change. This activity was so intense. The kids were posing and laughing so much and we all thought that’s all they would do the whole session. Click here to read more.

10th anniversary conference

 60 million girls has come of age. Since our inception 10 years ago, we have invested $2.4 million in 20 projects, helping over 20,000 children in 14 countries in Asia, Central America and Africa. We have funded projects that range from school construction to teacher training to providing supplies, fees or equipment.

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On November 7th, we celebrated this milestone with many friends and supporters, as well as partners from CAUSE Canada, the Stephen Lewis Foundation, the World University Services of Canada, the WE Charity (Free The Children) and Handicap International. Click here to read more.

Do you want to learn more about girls’ education and what we do? You can follow us on Facebook and Twitter for the latest information.

September 2016

Mark November 7th on your calendar

balloon_PNG4954We are pleased to invite you to our annual conference – a big celebration of our 10 years as 60 million girls!

Without you, we couldn’t have achieved any of our milestones: $2.4 million invested in 20 projects in 14 countries helping over 20,000 children! From Afghanistan to Zimbabwe, from South America to East Asia, we have touched the lives of the most vulnerable and marginalized girls and boys: children in aboriginal communities, HIV/AIDS orphans, handicapped children, those living in isolated rural villages and areas dealing with the far-reaching consequences of climate change, girls facing discrimination because of caste or ethnicity, children in war-torn countries, and, of course, those living daily in extreme poverty.

Join us to celebrate what we have been able to accomplish together. It takes an amazing team of volunteers, many generous donors and wonderful partners in the field to ensure that our transformative girls’ education projects become a reality. It takes YOU!

Join us to learn more about our innovative orientation that uses self-directed computer-based learning. Try out the RACHEL Raspberry Pi and enjoy the fun, informative, interesting and interactive content that students will enjoy. Its 400 GB capacity – the equivalent of 80,000 books or over 3,000 hours of video – all fits in an amazingly tiny, inexpensive package.

And, please, bring a friend! 60 million girls is one of the best-kept secrets in Montreal. Though small and completely volunteer-run, we partner with many world-class organizations and institutions around the world to re-think girls’ education. We need the skills, talents and support of so many people to make this happen on an ever-increasing scale. We need you and your friends!

We look forward to seeing you on Monday, November 7th, at 6 pm!

Click here to purchase your ticket today.

Can you help us?

As part of our research project in Sierra Leone, we must track the thousands of students who will use the Learning Centres over the yearlong intervention period. To do this, we must be able to accurately identify the children who will participate in the study.

In order to accomplish this, we feel that fingerprint tracking would work best. If you know of such software or hardware, or if you know of someone who might be able to help us out, please let us know at info@60milliongirls.org.

We also need a developer-programmer who can help us download our household surveys, as well as the literacy and math tests using Open Data Kit (ODK) on notebook computers or tablets. Please contact Wanda at info@60milliongirls.org if you are able to help us.

Thank you!

JUNE 2016

Summer – school is out but our work continues!

As the school year winds down for children here and in Sierra Leone, the Foundation’s work is just beginning to ramp up as we move ahead with our research project on self-directed learning in Sierra Leone.

With the help of our many partners worldwide, we are putting learning resources for basic literacy and numeracy skills directly into the hands of the students. The impact can be transformative.

We recognize that, while improving academic outcomes is important, learning is a much broader issue and requires the interest and engagement of the child at many levels. Children in Sierra Leone live in a context where there are few qualified teachers, parents are often illiterate, poverty is a major roadblock, and schools are straining to provide even the basics for learning. With this in mind, we want to introduce children to new sources of information to help them to get ahead.

static1.squarespaceOur two-year project this year has two streams: a Peer Literacy program and a research component intended to evaluate the impact of self-directed learning. CAUSE Canada will implement both parts. The Peer Literacy Program supports high school girls, allowing them to continue their education while, at the same time, they work as literacy tutors to primary school children in their communities. Following a 3-week training course, 80 peer literacy facilitators will work with almost 5,000 students each year from September to June, in 2016 and 2017, in the district of Koinadugu of northern Sierra Leone.

Pre-testing will begin this fall in preparation for the research intervention the following year. At that point, we will introduce the Digital Learning Centres that will be offered to approximately 5,000 primary school students in an extra-curricular setting. These centres will include interactive academic content in the hope of increasing the knowledge acquired at school.

RACHEL_Pi_4_largeEach Learning Centre will consist of a learning area (classroom) that will be equipped with 15-20 tablets, earphones and a RACHEL (Remote Areas Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) Plus Wi-Fi server. The cost to fully equip a Learning Centre is approximately $3,500. The equipment will be powered by solar panels that we will procure from a supplier in Sierra Leone.

The RACHEL Plus Raspberry Pi (from our partner, World Possible, in California) has a capacity of 400 GB of content. Up to 50 devices can connect wirelessly to it so that students can work on any of the thousands of interactive videos and exercises in literacy (from our partner, Fantastic Phonics, in Australia, with the help of eXplorance in Montreal) and math, science and health (KA Lite, Khan Academy’s offline version). Other available content will include MIT Scratch (coding), Wikipedia Academic and thousands of e-books, including material developed by our partner CODE Canada in Ottawa. The content on the RACHEL Plus can be modified remotely to ensure that content is always up to date and in line with student needs and interests.

Professor Sonia Laszlo, the newly appointed director of the Institute for the Study of International Development at McGill University, will lead the research team along with Professors Franque Grimard and Jim Engle-Warnick. Our research will focus on evaluating the cognitive or academic outcomes and non-cognitive outcomes from participation at the Learning Centres. We will be able to evaluate qualities such as the students’ intrinsic motivation and self-confidence. We will also be able to evaluate life aspiration changes that may develop as a result of children having access to interesting, interactive and entertaining content developed to support their natural curiosity and their innate talents, interests and skills.

We know that this multi-partner, multi-country effort will dramatically improve our understanding of what works effectively to improve learning outcomes and help us have a greater impact on our support of girls’ education. Everything we do will remain “open source”. Organizations and individuals around the globe will be able to share the lessons we have learned and the published results of the research study. It is through worldwide collaboration that we can truly ensure that we are offering the most effective and most innovative opportunities for all children to reach their potential.

Thank you for being there with us!!

Wanda Bedard
President, 60 million girls

Meeting Shirah
By Paula Gallagher

On February 12th, I had a lunch date in Nanaimo, BC. Those two hours were a wonderful reminder, not only of why I volunteer for the 60 million girls Foundation and the important work we do, but also of the amazing girls we have helped, and those we have yet to help. That is what having lunch with Shirah can do for you!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAShirah Owomugisha is a lovely, brave, twenty-year-old from Kanungu District, Uganda, and a graduate of the Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project, a foundation with which we partnered in 2012 and 2015. In October 2015, Shirah arrived in Nanaimo to attend the University of Vancouver Island (UVI) on a full scholarship. From her remote village, Shirah first travelled to Kampala then flew alone from Kampala to Amsterdam, and then on to Vancouver. It was her first airplane flight and she didn’t get lost at Schiphol, Amsterdam’s busy airport!

Shirah’s ‘first-time’ experiences since then have been innumerable. One that stood out was a trip to the food market. In Uganda, people eat what they grow in their own gardens. But there are numerous other things to which Shirah has had to adapt: the weather, the number of people, the food. Everything is different. And, of course, there’s the technology. However, she easily gave me directions to her homestay using her cell phone…

Shirah is currently upgrading her English at UVI, and plans to start a degree program in September, perhaps in accounting or marketing. She has been amazed at the continuing kindness of Canadians, and is so appreciative of the opportunities to further her education. She realizes that she is paving the way for other Nyaka students and has a responsibility to take advantage of every opportunity.

Shirah wants to do well. After meeting her, I am convinced she will succeed. Just look at what she has done so far!