‘Resilient’ is the word that best describes ABSF grantee partners. While the impact from Covid-19 has devastated communities globally, ABSF’s partners have shown their incredible ability to persevere, adjust, and strengthen their capacities as they work to build a more equitable and sustainable world.
In March 2020, as the reality of the pandemic changed the world as we had known it, my thoughts went immediately to ABSF’s partners and how, or if, they would survive. While everyone has been touched, the deepest inequities were exposed and the most marginalized have suffered the greatest. In particular, girls, women, and people with disabilities living in poverty have been exposed to increased levels of violence and lost access to education, healthcare, and their livelihoods. And yet, the resiliency, passion, and creativity of ABSF partners has persisted during these years, allowing them to adapt and evolve to better serve their communities.
Now, adolescent girls are back in high-quality education settings, learning about their rights, leadership, and life skills, to make informed decisions, speak up for themselves, and feel empowered. The Girls Foundation of Tanzania, Komera, and Jifundishe have reported the best ever results on their national exams this year, opening up the opportunity for these outstanding young scholars to join prestigious universities and other higher education institutes. Indigenous families with adolescent daughters in Chajul, Guatemala have received individualized outreach efforts ranging from emergency food support to radio educational programming and access to mental health services through Limitless Horizons Ixil. In January 2022, they opened the doors to Colegio Horizontes, providing access to high-quality, empowering and holistic middle and high school education for indigenous youth in rural Guatemala.
In Northern Uganda, youth with disabilities are getting high quality assistive devices, participating in disability-inclusive sports, and receiving training to learn market relevant skills with Gulu Disabled Persons Union. Children with disabilities served by Kyaninga Child Development Center in Western Uganda are getting early intervention services to help them attend school and participate in their community. Soon, they will have access to an in-house mobility workshop that designs, tests, and manufactures specialized mobility devices to further promote inclusivity in everyday society.
“When a woman rises, she lifts everyone around her.” Hundreds of women living in extreme poverty in Kamuli, Uganda have received entrepreneurship training by Bulogo Women’s Group, giving them skills, innovation, and confidence to start sustainable businesses and thrive during these times. Street Business School has ignited the spark within thousands of woman entrepreneurs across the globe through the training of NGO leaders in their unique and empowering Immersion Workshops. Vulnerable young mothers in Morogoro Tanzania, are transforming their futures through Young Strong Mothers’ Foundation while learning vocational, entrepreneurial, leadership and life skills to empower themselves and create a sustainable future for their children. These examples are just a small sampling of the local grassroots organizations that partner with and inspire us every day.
Though we are small, our impact is large. In this letter, I haven’t even touched on the work we’ve been doing with our Impact Investing Endowment. Please review our impact investing model and strategies for more information on the strides we’ve made in transitioning the foundation assets to 100% impact achieving. As we look forward to giving away all of our money by 2035, all of our endowment assets have been deployed in a strategy using select Sustainable Development Goals that guide our path and support our mission to advance opportunities for women and people with disabilities.
If you’ve made it this far, you’ve seen that despite the uncertain times, ABSF grantee and investment partners have proven again and again their resolve to create the peaceful, equitable, and sustainable world we all seek. The partnerships we’ve formed, friendships we’ve created, and smiles on the children we’ve met along the way have us inspired for everything to come. In the words of our Founder, Arthur B. Schultz himself, and as I’m sure you’ll agree, “small is beautiful.”
Rachael K Richards