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Focus on Education

by | Aug 26, 2022 | ShiftHappens

Education is the kindling of a flame, not the filling of a vessel.”
– Socrates

Over the last ten years, The Pollination Project community has funded 1,193 education-focused projects in 97 countries. This remains the area in which we regularly receive the most applications, and the advisor team continually comments on the diversity and creativity of the approaches outlined in grantee projects. 

To highlight this, here are a few incredible stories of highly effective education projects that the TPP community has uplifted over the last decade: 

Dr. Nevada Winrow and Taylor-Symon Winrow
Black Girls Dive Foundation

The Black Girls Dive Foundation, founded in 2017 by mother-daughter duo Dr. Nevada Winrow and Taylor-Symon Winrow, is an eco-step, ocean-science-based STEM program that supports girls as young as nine, following them through when they go to college. There are few minority women in STEM, and this program is the first of its kind working to empower young Black women to find a home in this field.

The group meets each Saturday, beginning in the classroom, then gearing up to scuba dive in the pool. The girls take classes in principles of scientific diving, core reef ecology, underwater photography, building and operating underwater vehicles, and more. 

For this program to do all of its amazing work, a lot of equipment is required. After receiving a grant from The Pollination Project, Dr. Winrow and the rest of the team were able to buy some “pretty cool equipment” to further the girls’ learning. 

“We’re preparing them for college and a career in STEM, so they have to be trained on the latest,” Dr. Winrow said on the necessity of using the best equipment. “They can’t be trained on outdated, archaic instruments.” 

Beyond the countless benefits of learning about diving and STEM, the girls also form powerful friendships and general life skills throughout their time in the program. 

 “It’s not just been my experience connecting, it’s watching the girls connect,” Dr. Winrow said. “Everybody’s a stranger their first year, so it’s just amazing to look at the sisterly bonds they develop.”

The foundation currently has chapters in New Jersey, Maryland, and a new chapter in Atlanta. Beyond the local work they do, the girls also have opportunities to complete traveling capstones, like the diving trip they recently took to Egypt. 

“You should have seen their faces in Egypt when diving the Red Sea,” Dr. Winrow said. “Every rare marine specimen that exists came out for them.”

Danielle De La Fuente
Amal Alliance

A daughter to immigrant parents, Danielle De La Fuente founded the Amal Alliance in 2017. The Pollination Project gave the Amal Alliance its first grant in 2018 to support their mission to bring alternate education to the more than 50 million displaced children living in refugee camps and informal settlements around the world. The word “amal” embodies their essence with multilingual meanings that include “Hope” in Arabic, “Action” in Urdu, “Work” in Hebrew, and “Charity” in Malaysian.

Through education, physical activity programs such as yoga and dance, and a safe place to gather, the Amal Alliance provides a holistic approach to education in emergencies by providing these children with social emotional learning and psychosocial support. The programs are designed to instill mindfulness, a positive attitude, and social skills among diverse groups of children from various countries, cultures, faiths, and ethnic backgrounds.

Amal’s curriculum is currently being used in refugee camps in many countries including Greece, Lebanon, Turkey, and Uganda, and has been recognized globally by many other foundations and refugee-supporting organizations. 

Logan McFadden
“Build Repair Grow”

Logan has always been passionate about helping young people become more self-sufficient and resilient. They have seen firsthand how hands-on practical skills like sewing, growing, cooking, bicycle repair, and basic carpentry can increase confidence and help a young person build their capacity to problem solve. These skills are increasingly not taught in schools, and the elimination of home arts & shop classes from the school day has created a knowledge gap. 

Now more than ever, many families and young people are experiencing budgets that are stretched thin. Acquiring some basic self-sufficiency skills might mean that they could grow vegetables in their yard or in containers, sew face masks for themselves or loved ones, and have the knowledge and confidence that comes from being able to repair or build something. 

Logan believes that COVID-19 has generated a new interest from young people in learning these basic skills. They have partnered with The Pollination Project to create take-home DIY projects that can be distributed through school systems. Each project teaches simple skills such as planting seeds, basic sewing, or building. Each kit contains instructions, supplies, and materials to complete one project. They are also developing video libraries of instructional curriculum to teach kids how to grow and cook food, repair bikes or small machinery, as well as sewing and basic carpentry. 

Learning these skills will mean that young people can feel more empowered to take care of themselves, no matter what life may throw at them!

AnnaLise Hoopes
The Changemaker Project

“What if we inspired youth to see themselves as problem-solvers? What if we equipped them with the education, mentorship, and resources they need to be transformative leaders– to have the tools they need to tackle important issues and create a better world?”

These are the questions that inspired AnnaLise Hoopes to found The Changemaker Project – a 501(c)3 nonprofit based in Berkeley, CA with the mission of cultivating young changemakers. The Pollination Project was the first seed grant AnnaLise received for TCP.

Since its inception in 2018, The Changemaker Project has engaged over 1000 youth (aged 13-24) in 25 countries: The United States and Puerto Rico, France, Romania, Japan, New Zealand, Argentina, Germany, Norway, England, Australia, Switzerland, Italy, Mexico, South Korea, Tanzania, Canada, The Netherlands, India, Kazakhstan, China, Kenya, Armenia, Latvia, Singapore, and Azerbaijan.

The Changemaker Project’s curriculum provides students with a foundational understanding of various social and climate justice issues, and then guides them through the Design Thinking process to help them build innovative solutions. Teams identify and research a specific problem, think critically about its impact and conduct empathy interviews to understand the needs of those affected, brainstorm creative solutions, design prototypes, and iterate their designs. Teams are matched with a mentor who has expertise in their project area, to offer resources and guidance as they implement their projects. The program culminates in an annual Global Pitch event, where the most promising projects present their ideas for a chance to win funding they need to scale and expand their projects. 

For a complete map of Education projects funded by The Pollination Project community, check out the Google map below: 

Written by Carolyn Ashworth