As I reflect on our second anniversary, I am delighted and overwhelmed at the success we’ve been able to achieve, and impatient to make even greater strides in the next two years!
When we began in April 2014, we had no funds, students, university collaborations, on-ground partners, board or charitable status.
Over that time, we’ve put all that in place, and most importantly, have developed an eco-system of supporters without whom we would never have made any of the accomplishments below. To our donors, supporters, on-ground partners, university partners, numerous other supporters and our many volunteers, I am deeply, eternally grateful!
Today, we support 36 young women (plus four alumni), often from areas of turmoil. Countries include Argentina (alum.); Kyrgyz Republic, Lebanon (refugee camps), Liberia, Nepal, Pakistan, Palestine, Syria, Tajikistan and Uganda. They attend programs at the Bachelor, Masters’, Professional and PhD levels at the Aga Khan University, Karachi; American University of Beirut; Asian University for Women (Chittagong); Nepal Engineering College; Lebanese American University (Beirut); London School of Economics; Sorbonne (Paris); University of Calgary and universities in Liberia.
We’ve been able to raise over $3 million in co-funding and donor support over the last two years to support these students over the full length of their university programs.
We have two formal university co-funding arrangements in place (Aga Khan University and University of Bern), with three more in progress.
We have one high school partner, who from 2017 will help us prepare young women at the Grades 11 and 12 level to enable them to gain admission to top universities in North America.
We have on-ground partners in Syria, Lebanon, Pakistan, Kenya and Bangladesh.
We have a new Board of Directors that has taken the reins from our founding Board, who were instrumental in the early success of the foundation. Their work is supplemented by a team of senior volunteers, whose members provide me with additional support.
We are delighted at the support of our Benefactor Program, where our 20 Bronze, Silver and Gold level benefactors support one, two or three students for four years. Their generosity has been overwhelming!
And our fledgling SparkOne Program has its first supporters, who will be crucial to the rapid growth we see for this program as we roll it out in the next few months.
Lastly, and most importantly, we’ve been slowly growing our ranks of volunteers, and today, we have seven volunteers who’ve been working quietly behind the scenes over the last two years. True to fashion, each of them declined to be named or to take credit for their hard work!
With the ongoing support of these and many amazing people I continue to meet each week, I am confident that the next two years will be just as exhilarating, and that we will be able to support many young women achieve their dream of going to university, so that they in turn can make a transformative impact in the world.
Narmin K. Ismail, Founder and CEO