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Philanthropy Spotlight: 100 Girls Back to School

What 100 girls in Asia have to do with Copa Cabana beaches, or why private-sector philanthropy is the real global game-changer.

In October 2007, Victoria Orizarska, a successful thirtysomething finance professional with a fantastic career, riveting social life and enviable wardrobe, decided to trade it all in for something completely irrational and unmarketable — the pursuit of a lifelong dream. So she armed herself with a backpack and a camera, and set out to travel the world.

But besides the incredible richness of experiencing new cultures, Victoria was struck with something else — the devastating poverty stifling certain regions of the world. So instead of tossing some spare change at some charity to alleviate her privileged guilt, she decided to start a philanthropic effort of her own — the 100 Girls Back to School Appeal was born.

Sitting at the beach at Copa Cabana, it was very difficult to ignore the kids that rush to collect my beer can as soon as I empty it, so they can make 1/20 of a $1 on it.

The effort aims to to raise funds for at least 100 school scholarships for girls in South East Asia, India and Nepal — some of the least-developed areas, where cultural bias and economic constraint prevent girls from getting the education needed to break the cycle. To put this in the context of numbers, it will take roughly $250,000 to achieve the project’s goal — $250 per girl per year, for 10 years.

But heartwarmingness aside, the effort oozes one very important takeaway — you don’t have to be, or work for, an NGO to make a tangible difference. The private sector holds formidable potential for solving global problems — just ask Acumen Fund’s Jacqueline Novogratz.

So far, the effort has amassed over $28,000. Learn more about it, see the other side like you never have before (did me mention Victoria’s photography goes well beyond her self-described hobbyist level?), and contribute to one of the best grassroots causes we’ve come across in a while.

Published June 12, 2009




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