A Letter from Our Founder

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Greetings,

Twenty years ago, in our Spruce Street garage in Boulder, Colorado, my husband Todd and I packed up boxes of Spanish children’s books with friends to be delivered to a cluster of orphanages in Nicaragua.  From this simple act, GEF steadily grew to be what it is today - an organization that has improved the lives of youth through quality education in more than twenty countries.    

Since inception, GEF has listened to local needs and relied on the wisdom of our in-country partners.  We are a small and mighty crew that continues to evolve in response to a changing global landscape.

It has been an honor to witness GEF’s impact -- whether it be a first generation high school graduate in Kenya, teachers enlightened about the value of girls education in India, or a Kenyan nonprofit leader developing a growing cadre of volunteer teachers’ aides in her country. 

It has been an equal honor to witness an organization take shape under the leadership of visionaries such as Liz Berry, Julie Shaw, Kathy Bartlett and Meg Porfido. I see in their eyes, upon returning from the field, the light from the many young adults impacted by GEF.  Alongside these inspiring youth, we have celebrated their accomplishments and for this the GEF team will be forever humbled.

Three years ago, under the leadership of GEF’s Executive Director, Kathy Bartlett, and our Board Chair, Meg Porfido, we developed a new concept to address an unmet need – a social impact fund of sorts to invest in education entrepreneurs in India, Guatemala and Kenya. Upon rigorous monitoring and evaluation, we learned that our first fund had powerful impact. We also determined that the model would have more impact under a larger and more media and digitally savvy entity. 

We are thrilled to be formally moving our new venture philanthropy fund under Girl Rising for an impactful next chapter, together.

A steadfast GEF partner for years, Girl Rising is a leader in the global social movement for girl’s education and gender equity. This year, GR has developed new programs in Pakistan, Guatemala, Thailand and Kenya, while continuing its work in Nigeria and India. As a reminder, our new four-year fund, GR-GEF, will in invest in local social entrepreneurs with culturally-relevant ideas to promote gender equality and improve education quality for girls and boys living in poverty in Kenya and India. Learn more here.

In addition, I have joined the Girl Rising board, Kathy Bartlett will continue to co-lead the fund program, and Meg Porfido will chair an oversight committee for the fund which will also include others from GEF.  

In 1998, a young girl in Nicaragua heartwarmingly spoke about the impact that the GEF library had on her life. She said, “books allow me to fly away to places I will never go".  I thank the GEF youth for all they have taught the GEF team and I thank you for your generosity and willingness to transform and grow with us over for the years.  

I am personally so thankful that through our work together at Girl Rising going forward, we will have the chance to do our part in making the world a more just and equitable place for all. I look forward to continuing this important work with you.

In spirited gratitude,

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Eliza Woloson

Founder, Global Education Fund