At Zamfund, the main focus is to give young women an opportunity to succeed through top-level education, as efficiently as possible. There is no red tape. There are no bureaucrats. We have wonderful and dedicated volunteers on the ground in Zambia, a great school to work with, and eager pupils and families ready to succeed. It's our job to provide the money they need to be successful.
The Proof in the Pencil
The fastest way to improve society as a whole is to educate women. It is the main strategy that many popular campaigns for economic development and human rights such as Girl Rising and the 10x10 campaign because it should be. Educating women works. The United Nations Development Index recently concluded that the status of women is the best predictor of economic and national development. Educating women improves their earning potential, reduces their chances of teen pregnancy, lowers the rate of mortality, and the likelihood she will contract HIV/AIDS. Educating women increases their political, economic, and social freedom.Educated woman, on average, have healthier families and their children are far more likely to finish school. Educating women improves the health of entire communities. A study funded by The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation found:
"...for every extra year of education women had, the death rate for children under 5 dropped by almost 10 percent. They estimated that 4.2 million fewer children died in 2009 than in 1970 because women of child-bearing age in developing countries were more educated. In 1970, women in developing countries ages 18 to 44 had attended about two years of school. In 2009, it was about seven years." (Source: NYTimes)
The greatest barrier to women finishing school in Zambia is money. Not only does a secondary education cost money, but many families cannot afford to send their daughters to school because their daughters provide income for the family. This barrier is common in the developing world. The World Bank found that young women in Pakistan attend school more often and do better academically if a stipend helps to cover costs of transportation and books. Taking it a step further, a program in Mexico called "Oportunidades" found that by providing the pupil's family with money, the pupil had a much greater chance of finishing school. This is why Zamfund incentivizes education by providing sponsored students' families with a monthly IGA. A little bit goes a long way, as all of our pupils are currently succeeding in school and have the full support of their families. We have adopted this model to ensure that our students finish school. By removing barriers, we ensure our sponsored students' success. When you donate to Zamfund, your money will go directly to a motivated student who has proven herself academically and who been hand-picked by her teachers. Your money goes directly to a student that has earned the opportunity to succeed but needs your help.
How we are different from other sponsor-a-child programs?
Existing sponsorship programs typically do not require their students to meet significant academic or personal standards. Most sponsorship programs only major admission criterion is the financial status of the applicant. Though allowing previously helpless individuals to attend school is well intentioned, it is, unfortunately, too often inefficient and ineffective. The main problem with a non-exclusive program with minimal expectations and standards is that many students simply do not stay in the program. A high drop-out rate has a number of causes. Some reasons for program dropout are outside the control of program management, such as family strife and poverty, pregnancy, disease, relocation, religious or cultural beliefs, and others. However, the major problem is that the sponsored students do not possess the personal and academic characteristics necessary for finishing their education. With a more rigorous admission process and better oversight, feedback, and monitoring of the sponsored student, we believe that retention rates will increase. And more importantly, talented, driven, and qualified students will be receiving and finishing the secondary education they deserve.
Ask any NGO director who oversees a sponsorship program and they will tell you that dropout is their primary problem. Retention rates remain remarkably low in many sponsorship programs, with some as low as 30%. A 30% success rate is not an acceptable measurement of success for any program, but more importantly it is unfair to the many students who would have dropped out. Many programs also suffer from lack of oversight, for as the number of sponsored children increase more individuals begin to slip through the cracks. In our program, sponsored students are closely monitored at their school, by the Happy Africa Foundation, and by the Nakatindi Committee. For example, absences and tardiness are recorded by the headmaster at St. Mary's School and immediately reported to Zamfund and the Happy Africa Foundation if there is no justifiable explanation by the student. If the number of absences and tardy days is deemed inappropriate, the Board reserves the right to suspend or cancel sponsorship. The sponsorship program is restricted to girls in hopes of working to reduce the inequality of women in education and society and because it provides the best opportunity for development and social progress. Education is often not an option for many women because of financial incapacitation, and many aspiring young women are locked out of promising futures simply because they cannot afford the price of a quality secondary school education. Our Foundation feels this is unacceptable, and aims to reduce gender inequality in education and invest in the future of promising young women through smart sponsorship.