Girls Academy for Conscious Change

by Global Grassroots
Listening intently
Listening intently

It is close to a year since 70 students from a secondary school launched their own ventures to address problems faced by their communities that they were determined to help improve.  In partnership with The Komera Project, Global Grassroots has provided the coaching and mentorship to support these girls in successfully turning their own ideas into worthy, actionable projects which are making concrete improvements in their communities.

One of the ventures launched by the girls, “Brave People” was able to enrolle seven out of ten street children back into school. The girls worked with the children in a combination of ways to give them hope, help build their self-esteem and help them recognize their rights. One of the lessons the girls described learning from this process was the importance of training. They reported that by building in some additional training and support they could succeed in getting the more resistant children to change their minds and attend school.

Brave People” is just one of six ventures designed by the participants in our innagural Girls Academy. While in school themselves, these change agents head into exams in November and will reconvene in December. At such time, the girls (whose ventures also include programs working on malnutrition, homeless youth, child abuse and economic empowerment) will conduct impact assessments on the work of their ventures over the past 12 months, develop final financial reports and provide peer mentorship to the next cohort of teens.

We will begin our second annual Girls Academy in Rwanda with 20 new high school girls in November.  We are also initiating our first Girls program in Uganda in January in partnership with Cornerstone Development.  Thank you very much for your generous donation that has enabled the launch of our Girls Academy for Conscious Change.  


Young Change Agents
Young Change Agents

While also looking after their own education and families, the high-school aged Girls of Global Grassroots' Girls Academy for Conscious Change are deeply invested in solving their social issue priorities and learning social entrepreneurship skills that will stay with them for a lifetime. Your generous support is what allows this remarkable project to continue.

In April, Global Grassroots met with the Komera Scholars and Academy change agents to conduct follow-up training in financial analysis and program reporting.  The girls teams completed their bookkeeping of their use of funds for their initial activities and developed progress reports to share with their local donors about their work in the community.  They also developed activity plans for their upcoming August break, when they will complete their program services.  Simultaneously, the Komera Project has selected a new group of 20 beneficiaries who will become our next cohort in the Girls Academy in November.  In August, they will meet our existing change agents, serving as volunteers on their ventures, as our current cohort provides mentorship and inspiration to the class that will follow them.  

Although initially designed as short-term projects, the eight teams of the inaugural Girls Academy have decided to keep working on their issues year round. We are pleased to share with you some highlights of 3 of the ventures: 

Brave People, working on homeless youth, has provided training, school materials, shoes and underwear for 10 children and registered 7 of them for school. They were also able to help 3 children reconcile with their families and move back home, although one of them returned to the street. For children who do not have families to return to, or who cannot reconcile with them, this team is seeking adoptive parents from within the community.

Invincible Vision, working on malnutrition, has given 4 families pigs to raise for manure to help increase farm yields. They have also provided training on how to take care of the animals as well as medicine for them if they become sick. During their break in August, they intend to go build shelters for the 2 pigs given to the poorest families so that the animals do not have to stay outside when the rainy season begins.

Step Forward, a team working on child abuse and its consequences, has helped 10 children who had dropped out of school return to their studies. These girls met with school officials and local leaders to talk to them about the challenges these children faced, and convinced them to donate school uniforms to children who could not afford them. During their next break they intend to meet with groups of parents individually to talk to them about children’s rights as well as hold a public forum on the same topic.

Please consider continuing to support these fearless young change agents. 

Working Through Solutions
Working Through Solutions
Receiving Training
Receiving Training
Girls Academy Participants
Girls Academy Participants
The Step Forward team of the Girls Academy
The Step Forward team of the Girls Academy


In Rwinkwavu, in Eastern Rwanda, our 70- vulnerable high school girls who took part in the Girls Academy training last November are exceeding our greatest expectations with their passion, commitment and fearlessness. Although their projects were initially intended to take place as a one-time events during their holiday school break, the girls are motivated to develop long-term programs creating change in their communities as well as opportunities for themselves to grow as leaders.  We are certain you too will be inspired by their progress:

  • Brave People, a team working on the issue of homeless youth, has succeeded in reintegrating seven children back into their families as well as helping three children find families to adopt them.
  • Hardworkers, a team working on reducing poverty and increasing self confidence has organized basket weaving classes that take place under a tree. Women gather in the shade to weave, while hearing the girls talk about self confidence and valuing the skills that they know.
  • Invincible is working to reduce hunger by increasing farm yields using fertilizers. They have approached local leaders who have agreed to partner with them, bought four pigs to give to families and will be training the families on using fertilizer from the pigs to benefit the crops.
  • New Life is fighting overpopulation through family planning. They have succeeded in creating strategic partnerships with nurses from the local health center who helped them provide comprehensive family planning training to 20 women.
  • Step Forward, a team working on child abuse, has facilitated conversations between parents and children at the municipal office of the Mukoyoyo cell. They discussed children’s rights, how parents can help children achieve a bright future and worked to develop a “culture of conversation” between parents and children. They also gave school materials such as notebooks, pens, school bags and soap to 10 of the most vulnerable children.
  • Withstand has identified lack of day care centers as a significant problem for women’s equality. They have approached local leaders who agreed to raise this issue at community meetings and help mobilize the population to build nursery schools. They also led two public discussion about the importance of day care to more than 100 people. 

Global Grassroots will be returning to Rwinkwavu to offer these remarkable young change agents another series of workshops during the girls’ spring break in April. The planned workshops will include basic bookkeeping, financial reporting, impact assessment and activity planning. 

Our partner, The Komera Project will be recommending a new cohort of 20 girls to join the Girls Academy for Conscious Change in August 2013. In addition to receiving training from Global Grassroots staff, the new cohort benefit from peer-to-peer learning shadowing the current teams and receiving mentorship from them throughout the next year. 

It is with such joy and inspiration that I write to you to share the outcomes of our first Girls Academy for Conscious Change.  With your support, Global Grassroots was able to deliver its core conscious leadership and social entrepreneurship curriculum to 70 vulnerable high school girls over November and December. Of these, 57 girls are Komera Scholars, identified by The Komera Project to receive scholarships and ongoing support so that they may complete their education - vital to their ability to advance their lives out of poverty. The remaining 13 girls were extended a special invitation through a recommendation from Partners in Health.  Many of our participants are the heads of their child-headed households, some are teenage mothers, and others are HIV+.  Yet all were engaged and extremely enthusiastic about becoming change agents to fight issues of importance to them in their communities.  The girls have formed six teams and will be working over the next year to advance the following self-designed solutions:

Brave People

18 Team members

Issue: Street Children

Mission: To reduce the number of street children, ages 8-14, by educating them in performances using songs, plays and poems which mobilize these children to leave their street life, so that we can bring them back to school and to their families.  We will target them where they sleep at night.

Budget:  $572



5 Team Members.

Issue: Hunger

Mission: To reduce hunger in Mbarara by increasing productivity by raising domesticated animals that will provide fertilizers, and by training people on how to use fertilizers; so that we can improve the fertility of the soil in our community. We are planning to provide pigs to four families in Mbarara so that they can have fertilizer for their land. We will also train them on watering plants, so that they can improve the productivity, and teach them to use anti-erosion techniques while cultivating. After a year, the offspring of these pigs will be given to 10 more families.

Budget:  $241


New Life

17 Members

Issue: Overpopulation

Mission: To fight overpopulation by providing 400 people with trainings on family planning, performing educational plays, songs and poems that show the public the bad effects of overpopulation and mobilizing people to use family planning.  Overpopulation is mainly caused by the fact that people don’t use family planning and as a result, they end up by giving birth to children they cannot afford to feed. This brings poverty in that family. These families aren’t able to pay health insurance, and they cannot afford to pay school fees for their children. As a consequence, instead of going to school children become street children or prostitutes, which makes our community less progressive. 

Budget: Under development


Hard Workers

9 Members

Issue:  Violence Against Women and Girls

Mission: To reduce poverty among women and girls in our community by fighting their lack of self-confidence.  We will provide 30 women with trainings about using their assets like embroidering, and waving basket, etc. and train them in doing small income generating projects that do not require a big investment.  We believe that women and girls who are poor will not be vulnerable to abusive relationships and cannot turn to bad professions such as prostitution to look for money if they are self-confident and have leaned skills like waving baskets.

Budget: $240


Step Forward

9 Members

Issue: Child Abuse

Mission: To reduce domestic violence faced by children, ages 7-20, by conducting trainings among 300 parents in the villages of Mukoyoyo, so that we can reduce the ignorance of child rights.  We want to see children going back to school among those who dropped out of school.  Also, for those children who are overworked (which means that children do a lot of work beyond their strength) we want to see that they are no longer overworked, and that children receive health insurance. We want to see that people who abuse children’s rights are punished seriously, and we will be reporting them to local leaders in charge

Budget: $400



12 Members

Issue: Lack of day care centers that result in children under age 7 playing on the streets and getting into accidents

Mission: To solve the problem of lack of day care centers by training parents and local leaders about the importance of these centers, and to build and register pre-school aged children in those centers.

Budget: under development


We extend our deepest gratitude for your support which will enable these 70 young women to have a successful experience creating positive change in their communities.  We will be monitoring these teams over the next year and will be evaluating the impact of this program on their self-confidence, self-awareness, social-emotional learning, leadership skills, problem-solving capacity, academic performance, trauma healing and engagement with others, as well as their social impact in their communities.  We look forward to keeping you updated on their progress and encourage you to continue to support this partnership between Global Grassroots and The Komera Project for the benefit of vulnerable girls becoming self-aware community leaders.

With wishes to you and your families for a happy, healthy and meaningful New Year.   

The Girls Academy for Conscious Change will commence this week!  Our inital enrollment of 57 girls has expanded to 70 girls with a request from Partners in Health in Rwinkavu, and we are just thrilled with the interest.  

We know that young women have unique insights into the needs of their communities. The Girls Academy, a social venture incubator for girls, held during the times when girls are most vulnerable to male predators or teenage pregnancy, will provide young women with a path to discover their own potential as change agents.

The program will begin with an assessment of the girls' sense of self-esteem, social emotional learning capacity (such as empathy), sense of power and leadership, interest in and readiness to create social change, and any evidence of trauma. Then we will engage in a six day experiential education program in mindfulness practices, mind-body trauma healing skills, leadership approaches, creative problem-solving processes, and social entrepreneurship skills.  The girls will form teams and work collaboratively over the next month to design their own social-purpose projects to benefit their community, which will be implemented by the end of their holiday break. The Girls Academy will follow the progress of the girls over the next year, evaluating the impact of the experience on each participant and the larger community.

We extend our deepest gratitude to all of our donors.  We have raised almost 50% of our budget needed for this initial pilot program. As of the writing of this note, we are also only 17th out of 75 organization on the Leaderboard for the GirlEffect Challenge.  

The GirlEffect Challenge is a competition that ends Friday to choose the next programs to become part of the GirlEffect portfolio, a fund established by Nike to advance the lives of girls.  If we can get from 17th place to one of the top 6 places by Friday - we win an automatic place in the portfolio.  

To win, we need the most number of unique donations of only $10 or more. Please help us. Please ask at least two more friends or family members to donate $10 or more via this online link:   Your donation of $10 will provide 5 girls with the materials they need to attend the program.    

If each of our current donors finds us 2 more $10 donors, we can win.  Please help us, then check out the leaderboard to see our position rising! There is only one more week to go!

Thank you so much for your support.  We will update you on the projects the girls are planning as we move through the program in the coming weeks.  Stay tuned for more.



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Organization Information

Global Grassroots

Location: Portsmouth, NH - USA
Website: http:/​/​
Project Leader:
Gretchen Wallace
President and Founder
Hanover, New Hampshire United States

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