Just Announced: The Fall 2021 Grantees of the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls Education

World Food Program USA
November 20, 2021

This World Children’s Day, World Food Program USA is proud to announce two new grantees for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education: Jeneba Project and Girls Education Collaborative.

Hunger affects women and girls disproportionately – they make up 60 percent of the world’s hungriest people. 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.

Jeneba Project

Jeneba Project was founded on the belief that Sierra Leonean girls deserve an equal right to quality education. Co-founder Joseph Kaifala, recently named a 2021 Ford Global Fellow, started the Jeneba Project to provide high-quality educational opportunities to adolescent girls in Sierra Leone and pave a way for them to forge a brighter future.

The Jeneba Project opened the Sengbe Pieh Academy for students in 2018 and provides secondary school education for nearly 75 adolescent girls in Western Sierra Leone, Robis village. Poverty, however, remains the greatest obstacle to girls’ education in Sierra Leone. For this reason, the Academy is free of charge to girls who attend. While this creates an opportunity for young women, there are still several items needed for attendance including uniforms, books and sanitary pads.

Upon receiving the grant Joseph Kaifala stated, “The Bertini Fund will go a long way to support our efforts of providing education for adolescent girls in a dignified learning space where they can pursue their dreams and become leaders in their communities.”

Girls Education Collaborative

Girls Education Collaborative’s (GEC) mission in Tanzania is to bring social change through the power of girls education and gender equality. The Collaborative envisions a gender-equal world where all girls have a seat in the classroom and are no longer barred from education simply because of their gender identity. In 2017, GEC opened the Kitenga Secondary School for Girls (KSSG) with 45 students. Today, that number has grown to 130 students across four grade levels, with the first class graduating in December 2020. Not one student entered into marriage. Instead, every Secondary School graduate pursued their studies and continued on to the next level of education.

After the first full year of school operations, it became clear that the  most marginalized and at-risk girls – which the school was designed to serve – were struggling. Too many girls who had attended public schools were falling behind, failing, or had to switch to vocational training as they could not meet the challenges of a more rigorous academic education.

Realizing this challenge, GEC worked with the school’s leadership in the summer of 2018 to design a program that would give an extra head start to local girls and help them prepare for a rigorous English language curriculum. The program was named Launch a Leader (LAL). The grant from the Bertini Fund will expand these efforts and allow the LAL program to reach 30 girls.

“The support from the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund will make it possible for Girls Education Collaborative and the Kitenga Girls Secondary School in Tanzania to ramp up what has been a successful pilot into a full program to support girls from the most impoverished households to successfully complete their secondary education,” said Anne Wadsworth, GEC executive director. “Given opportunity and support, even the most marginalized girls can soar and forge new pathways. The timing for this gift could not be better, as the impact from COVID continues to unequally impact the lives of adolescent girls.”

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.

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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 wfpusa.org/mission-history.

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.