World Food Program USA Announces Fall 2019 Grantees for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund

Published October 22, 2019

WASHINGTON, D.C./ October 22, 2019—World Food Program USA is proud to announce two new grantees for the Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education.

Hunger affects women and girls disproportionately; they make up 60 percent of the world’s hungry. For the most part, this disparity is due to unequal access to education, resources and tools for personal and economic success. The Catherine Bertini Trust Fund for Girls’ Education aims 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 Fall, the Fund awarded two organizations – World Assistance for Cambodia and Kakenya’s Dream – with grants to expand their programs and make an even greater impact on the lives of the women and girls they serve.

Kakenya’s Dream

Kakenya’s Dream, located in Kenya, is a non-profit that combines three educational programs to change the trajectory of girls’ lives: boarding schools, an alumnae support program and a health and leadership training program. Since 2009, Kakenya’s Dream has worked in one of the most remote regions of Kenya to end harmful practices like female genital mutilation (FGM) and early marriage that prevent girls from completing their education.

The program was founded by Dr. Kakenya Ntaiya who, as a girl, was on track to become a child bride and undergo FGM. After negotiating with her father and village elders, Dr. Ntaiya went on to complete secondary school, attend college on a scholarship in the U.S. and earn a PhD in education.

The program that Dr. Ntaiya founded began with 30 students but has now educated 450 girls. The Catherine Bertini grant will allow Kakenya’s Dream to enroll an additional 30 students in its 2020 class.

“These students come to us from situations of extreme economic hardship, and their families are unable to afford the cost of secondary school,” says Jennica Stephenson, the director of development for Kakenya’s Dream. “Without our support, most would drop out to be married and begin having children while they are still teens themselves.”

World Assistance for Cambodia 

World Assistance for Cambodia aims to end rural poverty through a variety of in-country initiatives, including programs that enable girls from poor families to attend school and provide vulnerable girls with strong female mentors.

This past year, World Assistance for Cambodia piloted a new initiative – a health and wellness program aimed at girls ages 10 to 14 to help them build confidence and learn about mental health, physical health, hygiene and self-protection. The results were overwhelmingly positive.

The Catherine Bertini grant will allow World Assistance for Cambodia to expand this program to the province of Svay Rieng – one of the country’s poorest areas, where girls are often marginalized and exploited.

“This grant will support many of the most vulnerable girls in Cambodia in overcoming the health barriers they face by helping them acquire positive functioning in their physical, mental and social well-being through education and guided mentorship,” says Debbie Krisher-Steele from World Assistance for Cambodia. “By gaining knowledge and access to meet their health care needs, they will be able to succeed in education and continue on their path toward an independent future.”


About World Food Program USA 

World Food Program USA is a 501(c)(3) charity that proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), the leading humanitarian agency fighting hunger worldwide. Each year, WFP reaches nearly 90 million people with lifesaving food assistance in 83 countries across the globe. By mobilizing individuals, lawmakers and businesses in the U.S. to advance the global movement to end hunger, World Food Program USA bolsters an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world.

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.

For more information, contact:
Colleen Callahan,