Education Is Power
Education Is Power
Education is critical to overcoming poverty, but less than 50% of students in our partner countries ever reach secondary school (the equivalency of high school), and according to analysis conducted by FHI360’s Education Policy & Data Center, less than 10% of youth from our countries under the age of 25 have graduated. Why? The issues are multi-faceted and complex, but some of the most common reasons are transportation, pregnancy, early marriage, and cost. “Fees has been a major reason for dropout for both boys and girls at secondary level.” (Malawi Education Sector Analysis, UNICEF) Our aim is to increase the percentage of students who complete secondary school through the offering of sponsorships to qualified students vulnerable to dropping-out.
Every student selected for our ‘Education Is Power’ program is nominated either by a community leadership team, teachers, parents, or through an application from the student themself. Once nominated, our staff on the ground interview each candidate at their home and complete an assessment consisting of a series of questions including the Poverty Probability Index, as well as a number of other indicators to assess both need and academic performance. Through our process, we seek to sponsor students with great potential who demonstrate financial hardship or represent vulnerable populations.
By sponsoring a student through The Sonder Project’s ‘Education Is Power’ program, you can provide a deserving student with the support they need to reach their full potential. In addition to direct sponsorship, students selected for our Education is Power Program also receive Mentorship, Life Skills Enrichment, and Tutoring support. Learn more below and sign up to sponsor a student today!
WHY EDUCATION IS POWER?
Education is key to overcoming poverty, but for many students in our partner countries, the educational ladder of opportunity is blocked due to the high cost of school fees and a lack of support and resources. Students from the rural communities where we drill wells and build schools are particularly disadvantaged due to the high levels of poverty. The barriers become particularly pronounced at the secondary level (grades 7-13 in Burkina Faso and grades 9-12 in Malawi) because unlike primary school, secondary school is not “free”. We focus our support on secondary school students.
Girls are especially prone to dropping out due to gender norms that prioritize the education of boys first, challenges when a girl first hits puberty, and the responsibilities of household care. As a result, too often girls are encouraged to marry young and get pregnant early. The Sonder Project’s Education is Power program requires at least 50% of sponsored students to be girls.
Through the Education is Power program, students receive the stable support and resources necessary to be able to focus on their education and the POWER to reach their full potential.
HOW IT WORKS?
Our staff on the ground work with local community leaders, partners, parents, and teachers to identify students who have demonstrated potential and have socioeconomic need. We then interview each student nominated and assess them on a series of questions, including the Poverty Probability Index, to make selections. Students are sponsored for one academic year and automatically continue in the program if they pass and maintain good behavior. In addition to direct sponsorship, Education is Power students benefit from our 4 pillars (more info below).
The Sonder Project staff keep tabs on sponsored students and track their progress in collaboration with their school. We distribute specific materials at the start of each term, and we follow-up with the student, parents, and/or teachers when concerns are raised.
The Sonder Project’s Education is Power program has 4 key pillars:
1. Sponsorship – sponsorship is the foundation of our program, providing the resources students need to reach their full potential.
2. Mentorship – all students need positive role models in their lives. That’s why we assign every POWER student a Sonder Project Staff member as their mentor. All of our staff are professional, host country nationals, who may be the only college graduate our POWER student knows – other than the teachers at his/her school. As mentors, our staff visit their assigned students at their school on a regular basis and conduct one on one meetings to address current challenges and provide advice and support to overcome them.
3. Life Skills Enrichment – In addition to supporting students in the classroom, there are many important life skills that can help build character, confidence and understanding outside of the traditional classroom. Reproductive Health, Career Exploration, Leadership Training, and Study Skills, are just a few of the many topics we hope to support our students around through an annual POWER Retreat held in each country.
4. Tutoring – additional, focused instruction outside the traditional school day is critical to helping students understand challenging concepts. We aim to identify POWER students who may benefit from more direct support, and we then work with the school community to arrange tutoring sessions to prevent our students from falling behind.
The sponsorship component of the program allows for each student to receive the following for one academic year(exact items may vary by country):
- All Necessary School & Exam Fees
- Boarding Fees (if applicable)
- Food Rations (if living independently)
- Textbooks (if required)
- School Uniform
- School Shoes, Polish, Brush, & Socks
- School Bag
- Pencils, Pens, Erasers, Ruler
- Exercise Books
- Washing Soap
- Solar-powered flashlight
- Menstrual pads (if applicable)
WHAT IT COSTS?
A gift of $25/month supports a student for one academic year (or $300/year).
HOW TO BECOME A SPONSOR?
Sign-up to become a sponsor by donation through our Student Sponsorship Campaign. You will receive a unique, individual student profile for each student you sponsor in December. The school year itself runs from September – July (Malawi) and October – July (Burkina Faso). We seek to receive all sponsorships by September so we can maximize our selection process for the year, and then we distribute profiles in December to allow us time to process this information.
HOW MANY STUDENTS WILL BE SPONSORED?
We currently seek to sponsor at least 200 students per academic year.
student sponsorship NEWS
Kurt Freudenreich is back out on the trail! This time he is hiking the Ouachita Trail in Arkansas and Oklahoma with the goal of sponsoring 50 students with The Sonder Project.
Daniel Kalumbi was just starting Grade 10, but he already had his future mapped out. As a precocious lover of math, physics, and chemistry, Daniel was eager to finish high school and pursue a career in engineering.
Veronica Zulu was in Grade 9, earning high marks and on a path to graduate high school. She was following in the footsteps of her two older sisters, who had both graduated from high school, with the dream of one day becoming a doctor.
Meet Sonder sponsored student, Misheck Banda, and learn how our student sponsorship program is renewing students’ belief in their own potential.
Kurt Freudenreich has already funded one well through his walks – now he is looking to sponsor 25 students! Discover his latest challenge.
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 were so encouraged by the success of the program, that we want to do more.
Our recently completed school in Malawi sits on a hill as a beacon of hope for the community
The Sonder Project is thrilled to share the commencement of a brand new student sponsorship program supporting vulnerable students to stay in school.
In January of 2020, our CEO, Chad Zibelman, traveled to southeastern Africa to establish a Sonder Project office in Malawi. Often referred to as “The Warm Heart of Africa,” the country is known for its friendly people and Lake Malawi, its vast freshwater lake.