To Give Students Hope, School Connects Virginia To Uganda

Meet a couple who is determined to build brighter futures for students in rural Uganda.


An Arlington Academy of Hope student smiles.

An Arlington Academy of Hope stands out with a smile.


Finding the resources to grow

When John and Joyce Wanda relocated from Uganda to Arlington, Virginia, they were impressed with the high quality of education their children received in the public school system. The Wandas wanted to create the same experience for students in Uganda.

In 2004, they established the Arlington Academy of Hope, Inc. (AAH). The nonprofit venture began as a primary school that served 350 children in Uganda’s Bumwalukani village.

Two years later, 100 percent of AAH seventh graders were passing their national exams and qualifying for admission to secondary schools throughout Uganda. While the AAH team celebrated this milestone, they faced a new challenge. How could they ensure that their primary school graduates attended and completed secondary school? Without more resources, they couldn’t.

Arlington Academy of Hope is crowdfunding for students.

AAH students and volunteers complete a community service project.


A broader donor base

AAH has a solid base of donors and supporters in the United States, but the increasing number of students eligible for secondary school required them to raise funds quickly and court donors outside their existing network.

AAH’s Executive Director Maureen Dugan searched for a crowdfunding platform that would help the organization grow and provide hands on customer support. In 2012, AAH joined GlobalGiving’s virtual crowdfunding training program.

“I had no prior experience with online fundraising; it was not a part of my skillset when I came to AAH,” explained Maureen. But she soon found that GlobalGiving specialized in working with organizations new to crowdfunding. “What’s great is that GlobalGiving works with organizations at all different levels.The GG staff is very approachable. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and call in,” Maureen said.

By explaining the potential of a partnership with GlobalGiving to their supporters, AAH raised nearly $7,000 with their first crowdfunding campaign. Thanks to the growth in donations and donors, 100 percent of AAH primary school graduates have gone on to secondary schools since 2012.

Rachel, who began as an AAH primary school student, is now entering her third year at university. She credits AAH for her success:

“Before AAH, I just assumed that after seventh grade, I would get married. That is what all my older sisters did. That was all I knew. Now, I am in university and will have a career helping others.”

Arlington Academy of Hope is crowdfunding for students.

AAH students learn about dinosaurs.


A path to secondary education

GlobalGiving is more than a tool; it’s transformative, according to Maureen.

“GlobalGiving is making us a more effective organization because of what the team asks us to do and by the tools and information they share. GlobalGiving also increases the visibility of our organization, even though we are small,” the executive director said. “GG has brought many new donors to us and enabled many youths to go to school as a result. I would say that [it’s] an absolute lifesaver for us.”

AAH has expanded to include a secondary school scholarship program, two rural health clinics, and outreach and economic development initiatives throughout Uganda.

To date, AAH has raised more than $300,000 on GlobalGiving. The nonprofit’s crowdfunding success is changing lives in rural Uganda. The sky is now the limit for students like Rachel.

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