Photo: Girls Gotta Run

Running Toward a Brighter Future: Girls Going the Distance for Education and Empowerment

World Food Program USA
Published March 8, 2021

This International Women’s Day, World Food Program USA is proud to announce  a  new grantee for the Catherine  Bertini  Trust Fund for Girls’ Education: Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Inc.

Hunger affects women and girls disproportionately; they make up 60 percent of the world’s hungriest people. For the most part, this disparity is due almost entirely to unequal access to education, resources and tools for personal and economic success. The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education works to change this by empowering women and girls with the knowledge, training and leadership skills necessary to achieve food security and reach their full potential.

This spring,  the Fund awarded funding to Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Inc. in Ethiopia to expand their program and make an even greater impact on the lives of the women and girls they serve.

A group of girls from Girls Gotta Run go on a run through a forest
Photo: Girls Gotta Run

Girls Gotta Run, a non-profit in Ethiopia, currently invests in and empowers 195 girls through running programs and education.

Ms. Catherine Bertini remarked,

“I am impressed with the innovative model Girls Gotta Run has developed of using sport to build girls’ confidence and to guide them in setting and obtaining goals. These are critical skills for girls to be able to succeed in school anywhere, including for the girls this grant will support in some of the most vulnerable areas of Ethiopia.”

Girls Gotta Run

Girls Gotta Run is a non-profit that’s mission is to invest in girls by using running and education to empower themselves and their communities. Girls Gotta Run works with adolescent girls living in economically and socially disadvantaged families in two rural Ethiopian communities.

Their Athletic Scholarship Program targets girls who are at acute risk of dropping out of school, becoming socially isolated, entering early marriage and/or experiencing harmful cultural practices like female genital cutting. Mothers of girls in the program are also equipped with the knowledge, tools and mentorship needed to build financially resilient futures for themselves and their families. They currently reach 195 girls across two program sites in Ethiopia.

Schoolgirls in uniform raise their hands in class
Photo: Girls Gotta Run

Women make up 60% of the world’s hungriest people because of their unequal access to education and resources. The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education and Girls Gotta Run Foundation, Inc. are working to close that gap.

Upon completion of the three-year Athletic Scholarship Program, girls who are interested in continuing their education are invited to join the Alumni Project which provides tuition and a basic living stipend to girls in high school and university.

Upon learning they’d been awarded the grant, Executive Director Danielle Taylor said,

“In recent years, only about 50 percent of Ethiopian girls who enroll in primary school ever made it to Grade 5. COVID-19 has further threatened girls’ access to school and has made them increasingly vulnerable to child marriage due to nation-wide school closures for several months in 2020. As a result of this grant, Girls Gotta Run will be able to bring on a new cohort of girls who will not only attend school but get the unique training they need as leaders and changemakers through local run clubs and life skills classes. The creation of these safe spaces is critical in reducing girls’ sense of isolation and increases their capacity to assert their right to choose to stay in school and when to marry.”

The Bertini Fund has supported dozens of girl-centered education programs over the years, ensuring that thousands of young women could access the schooling they deserve. You can see all of their stories here.

About World Food Program USA  | The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

World Food Program USA, a 501©(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit

About the  Catherine  Bertini  Trust Fund for Girls’ Education | After winning the World Food Prize in 2003, Catherine  Bertini,  the former executive director for the United Nations World Food  Programme  (WFP), recognized an opportunity to leave  a lasting legacy  for women’s empowerment.  Bertini  used her winnings to establish the  Catherine  Bertini  Trust Fund for Girls’ Education, a fund that supports innovative grassroots initiatives around the globe that boost access to training and educational opportunities for girls.