Exciting Student Sponsorship Updates

Nov 22, 2021 | Malawi, schools, Sonder Update, student sponsorship

Our program leadership team recently traveled to Malawi to observe and assess the impact of our programs on the ground. We wanted to understand the impact of our Sonder Student Sponsorship Program, which we established at the start of the year. We currently sponsor a total of 50 students across two primary schools in Malawi with uniforms, materials, and mentorship. Now that our team was in Malawi, it was time to find out what the local stakeholders thought of the program.

During our visit, we met with students, parents, teachers, and community members. Through our discussions, one thing was clear—the program is making an impact.

Student after student expressed feeling a greater sense of possibility and pride. Many students reported missing school in the past because they lacked necessary materials or felt ashamed for not having a uniform. Now, teachers tell us Sonder-sponsored students have improved attendance and are more engaged in school.

Thom Chanjowa (far right) poses with his mother and younger brother. Thom’s father is not around, so Thom has to help support his family. As a sponsored student, he sees education as a greater possibility to achieve his goals.

Mdzatifuna Jere’s father would often keep her (pictured middle) out of school to earn extra money for the family. Through the Sonder Sponsorship Program he now sees a brighter path for his daughter through education and vows to keep sending her to school.

We were so encouraged by the success of the program, that we want to do more. We are happy to share the following additions to our Sonder Student Sponsorship Program for the 2022 school year:

  • Increase the number of students sponsored – Our initial pilot focused on 25 students per school. After seeing the success of the program, we realized we had a problem. More students could benefit! In 2022, we plan to double the number of primary school students we sponsor in each school.


  • Award sponsorship to top-performing students – Stakeholders felt our selection process identified the right students but recommended additional sponsorship opportunities to high-performing students. In 2022, we will sponsor the highest performing male and female students in upper primary grades, in addition to the most vulnerable students.

  • Provide sponsorship to students in secondary school – Our initial pilot focused on sponsoring primary school students. However, there is a significant need for sponsorship of secondary school students too. According to a study conducted by the World Bank, more than 50% of male high school dropouts reported problems paying school fees, while 56% of female dropouts reported problems paying school fees or absence caused by pregnancy. Our conversations in Malawi with adults who dropped out of school support the findings of the World Bank study.
    Supporting secondary school students who attended our primary schools will also motivate current primary school students. In 2022, we will sponsor up to 50 secondary school students who attended Sonder primary schools.

  • Explore the possibility of supporting a school-feeding program – Offering food at school will help students and increase enrollment. In 2022, we plan to work with the community to identify a sustainable way to support school-feeding programs at each of our schools.

We are excited to increase our investment in the next generation through our Sonder Student Sponsorship Program, and we are so grateful to the sponsors who’ve helped us get this far.

Now that we are committing to sponsoring more—we need your support! Our cost to sponsor a student for one year remains at $225. Please consider donating before the end of the year to help us meet our goals. Every sponsor will receive regular updates about the sponsorship program and stories about how it impacts students.

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