By Merritt Frey, Executive Director
As kids in Mali returned to school in October, Mali Rising Foundation opened our 20th school thanks to donations from members of Entrepreneurs’ Organization (EO).
The Entrepreneurs' Organization Learn for Life Academy is in the small village of Fadioubougou. The village is a nearly 2 hour drive from the capitol city, but lies within 10 km of several other Mali Rising schools. Fadioubougou is home to about 1,100 people, and villagers rely on farming, livestock breeding, and trade for income.
Over its lifespan, the Learn for Life Academy will provide life-changing education to thousands of young people who would have otherwise had no chance to learn. The school will reach nearly 150 students each year in 7th, 8th, and 9th grade.
“This new school is truly representative of the power of EO,” said Fred Johnson, a Mali Rising board trustee and a member of the Entrepreneurs’ Organization. “Because a group of EO members used their communication and entrepreneurial skills to make a difference, thousands of children in a remote village in Mali will receive a quality education. This will change those children’s futures for the better, and in the long-term make our whole world safer and stronger.”
Entrepreneurs’ Organization is a global nonprofit organization and is the only global network exclusively for entrepreneurs. EO helps entrepreneurs learn and grow through peer-to-peer learning, once-in-a-lifetime experiences and connections to experts. EO works in 50 countries to inspire its 12,000 members to make change happen. Members of EO’s Utah chapter sponsored a previous school in 2013 – the EO Academy in Dovong, Mali.
We partner with village leaders and parents on all of our projects. Each village contributes land for the school and 20 percent of the construction costs. Mali Rising Foundation then covers 80 percent of the costs and coordinates construction. But the partnership doesn’t end their -- we also partner with school villages to provide on-going educational support such as teacher training and scholarships.
Mali Rising focuses on constructing middle schools because of the enormous need for secondary schools in Mali. While the country improved enrollment in primary school to 60 percent for boys and 55 percent for girls, secondary school attendance lags at only 36 percent for boys and 23 percent for girls. This drop-off in attendance is due in large part to a lack of access to middle schools, particularly in rural areas.