Zamfund is a non-profit educational foundation founded by Sam Peisch ’13.5 whose purpose is to provide 3-year scholarships to highly qualified yet financially-incapacitated women to fully-fund the costs of attending private high school.
The mission of Zamfund is to support the economic, social, and political development of Zambia by improving female access to education. MiddSTART funding will go directly towards the Foundation’s scholarship fund, program management and oversight, administration travel costs, program development. Zamfund is built on a 90:10 model, with 90% of donations going directly towards academic scholarships and the remaining 10% going towards program development, oversight, travel costs, and administration.
Dollars Raised: 103%
Deadline: Dec 31, 2012
Total needed: $2,000
The idea for Zamfund was started when I worked during my Febmester for the Happy Africa Foundation, an NGO and UK-based charity in Livingstone, Zambia medical volunteer. Through my medical work with community health teams in urban and rural Livingstone, volunteering in community schools, and working with other non-governmental organizations and charities, I became acutely aware that many problems of social, economic, and political development were directly linked to a lack of access to education. This problem is most acute for women, who are 66% more likely to have not attended school and 66% more likely to be illiterate than men. Yet despite the limitations of the educational system in Livingstone, current approaches to improving access to education for women are equally flawed.
The Current Sponsor-A-Child Model
Most programs to improve access to education in Livingstone are “sponsor-a-child” programs run by non-governmental organizations and Christian charities. These programs seek to impact development through identifying impoverished students and paying for their uniforms and school fees. These programs are well-intentioned, but flawed in a critical way: they do not identify students that actually benefit from sponsorship. Unfortunately, by having the sole criteria for selecting a student be their poverty level, many students receive sponsorship that are unfit, unprepared, or uninterested in attending school. In Livingstone, current sponsor-a-child programs have a drop-out rate of above 50%. In other words, a sponsored student has less than a 1 in 2 chance of actually going and completing school through current sponsor-a-child programs. More importantly, current sponsorship models are consistently failing to identify and support students that are most likely value their education, to succeed, and ultimately make a positive societal impact. More specifically, current sponsorship models have consistently let talented yet financially-impoverished women fall through the cracks.
The Zamfund Model
To understand the Zamfund Model, picture Sarafina, one of the top students at Nakatindi Community School in Livingstone. After completing her exams and gaining admission to St.Mary’s School, the top high school in Livingstone, she sought sponsorship to pay for her school fees and uniform. Like many talented and hard-working women before her, she failed to secure financial support from non-profit agencies and charities in Livingstone who repeatedly told her they were only focused on sponsoring the poorest of the poor for primary education. She was told that she was already better off than many of her peers because she had completed middle school, and was unlikely to be supported. Sarafina has since run away from Livingstone, married, and hasn’t been heard from anyone since.
After recognizing this critical flaw, I decided to start Zamfund with the express purpose of supporting the hundreds of gifted, hard-working women in Livingstone whose aspirations for attending high school are repeatedly undermined or unaddressed by the current sponsorship model. By supporting individuals that are the most capable and determined to complete high school, Zamfund will have a much lower drop-out rate than the current sponsorship model. More importantly, Zamfund will provide full scholarships for students such as Sarafina to attend high school, so the individuals with the most potential and best chance of succeeding are allowed to succeed: young women.
According to the UN and the World Bank, women are the best predictors of economic and national development. They are the development investment with the highest individual, communal, and national returns. Most importantly, investing in women’s education has been shown repeatedly in World Bank and UN studies to improve statistics from economic growth to infant mortality to political freedom to HIV transmission rates. Yet despite these conclusions, few charities and non-governmental organizations have initiatives dedicated to improving access to education for women. Zamfund hopes to address this problem and harness the power of women through education to improve the economic, political, and societal development of Zambia.
How does it work?
Working with local experts from St. Mary’s School, the Happy Africa Foundation, and local schools, Zamfund will identify, evaluate, and ultimately assist high-performing female students through scholarships to fully finance the costs of high school. In order to qualify for any form of grant, candidates must meet Zamfund’s admissions criteria for character, leadership, and academic excellence. By supporting and promoting female education, Zamfund is not only harnessing one of the most untapped resources in Zambia, it is making the safest and most successful investment in Zambia’s future.
This project is included in these themes: