Why I Support STS – Jean Libby, STS Vice Chair

Why I Support STS – Jean Libby, STS Vice Chair

As part of our end of year campaign, we will be featuring posts from STS supporters. Some are board members, some are staff members, some are long-time STS supporters. Check back to learn about why and how people get involved with STS.

Below is a post from STS Vice Chair Jean Libby.

The story of my motivation to volunteer for School-to-School International begins in the 1960s during the American Civil Rights Movement and Freedom Summer.  At the time, Stanford University was a focal point of the movement.  University faculty, staff, students and the Palo Alto community were providing the largest national share of bail money to the NAACP Legal Defense Fund for civil rights advocates jailed in Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana and Georgia—including many of their own students. . I participated as the Public Relations officer of the Palo Alto-Stanford NAACP branch by producing a mimeograph newsletter and press releases that informed the 1,000 local members and Silicon Valley journalists about Freedom Summer activities.

I completed my own university education twenty years later across the San Francisco Bay at the University of California, Berkeley. It was the 1980s and the Anti-Apartheid and South African liberation movement caused UC-Berkeley Regents to vote to end the university system’s investments in South Africa. The movement brought about a profound cultural shift.

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Caption:  Daily Cal photo of an Anti-Apartheid demonstration in 1985.  The student in the raspberry beret (lower right) is Clare Libby, my daughter, now Clare Loops.  We attended UC Berkeley with son and brother Tom Libby (B.A. History 1984) who is currently the Chair of the Board of Directors of STS-International.  

At UC-Berkeley I majored in African American Studies, which substituted African History for the traditional European and Classical regimen. While there, I decided to associate with the newly created Joint Berkeley-Stanford Center for African Studies.  The Center was started in 1983 to support the growing African student population and academic programs. Today, I bring my 30 years of involvement with the Joint Berkeley-Stanford Centers for African Studies to the School-to-School International Board of Directors.

School-to-School International pioneered its Whole Child Model in the flagship location of Guinea, West Africa. The Whole Child Model is a holistic, broad-based set of cooperative interventions that establish the conditions of success for children in school.  Students who are successful in the classroom bring skills home and form the foundation for their communities’ development. Through the Whole Child Model, we have found that providing one bag of rice a month to a rural family has the power to enable a girl to learn reading and mathematics by relieving her domestic chores.  She learns good nutritional and health practices for the rest of her life. We have found that one community-built well can have resounding impact on the entire community.  We believe one health-monitoring kit per school delivered by local STS staff and teachers can help break the chains of the Ebola epidemic if delivered quickly and methodically. I believe that trust in the capabilities of the people to develop an infrastructure for their needs will reduce dependence on government and foreign aid.

The new are not yet born (African proverb)

Why I support STS – Mark Lynd, STS Co-Founder and President

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As part of our end of year campaign, we will be featuring posts from STS supporters.  Some are board members, some are staff members, some are long-time STS supporters.  Check back to learn about why and how people get involved with STS.

Below is a post from STS Co-Founder and President Mark Lynd

Since STS started working in Guinea in 2002, we have trained over 100 teachers in active teaching methods, and helped parents and community members manage their own projects in which they created healthier and safer learning environments for their children. With the support of people like you, we’ve also dug wells, built latrines, provided medical kits, conducted pen pal exchanges, and provided girls’ scholarships.

Last year was a banner year for us because we were able to add two important components of our Whole Child Model: the training of parents in early childhood support, and the organization of a girls’ after-school sports program. We also tested our model, and got significant increases in reading, math, and science outcomes in Grades 2 and 4, as compared to results in control schools.

We are proud to have been in Guinea for the past 12 years, continuously assisting teachers, students, and parents in our schools, even through the Ebola crisis. This year, once schools re-open, we will include services to help teachers and students cope with Ebola, and will continue to strive for better outcomes for our students.

As one parent said, “Your friends in America help us out, even though they’ve never met us. We are so thankful!”

On behalf of our friends and colleagues in Guinea, I too would like to thank you for your support and wish you a happy holiday season.

As you consider your End-Of-Year Giving, I hope you will consider supporting School-to-School International.

 

Why I Support STS – Katherine Young, STS Board Member

kids with whom sts worksm - Version 2As part of our end of year campaign, we will be featuring posts from STS supporters.  Some are board members, some are staff members, some are long-time STS supporters.  Check back to learn about why and how people get involved with STS.

Below is a post from STS Board Member Katherine Young.

I am proud to be a new board member with STS. As a graduate student in UC San Diego’s Masters in International Affairs program, I studied the vast global network of nonprofits, NGO’s, private companies and government agencies that all work together to alleviate global poverty and reduce inequality.  These different groups all have their own worthy goals, but I believe that education is one of the most important missions to support, because it is through education that people become empowered to manage their own futures, both as individuals and as a community.

The challenges in promoting education are many, and no one idea or intervention can solve them all. A new school building means nothing if there isn’t a pool of qualified teachers to work in it; teachers can’t teach if young people are compelled to work to support their families rather than attend school; and no one will receive a job or education if a community is overtaken by sickness. STS’s Whole Child Model uses a number of elements in concert to ensure students will actually get and benefit from an education, including teacher training, food provisions given to students’ families, and work with local communities to design and manage projects  such as latrines, wells and first aid kits. STS also focuses specifically on girls’ education, conducting workshops to sensitize the community to the importance of girls’ education and ensuring that the learning infrastructure our funding helps create will be taken advantage of by all. Simply donating bricks and books for schools does little over in the long run, but programs such as the STS Whole Child Model allow individual development efforts to be worth more than the sum of their parts and create lasting impact.

Being a board member with STS allows me to apply the theories of international development that I learned in the classroom to a real organization helping real people. There are critical questions that must be asked of any nonprofit relating to accountability, funding, program outcomes, and impact on the community it serves. Our efforts in the US are supported by over 8 staff members in West Africa, who are better aware of the realities of political and social barriers and can provide guidance that makes sure our programs make sense not just on paper, but in a community. I am proud to be part of the team that helps steer the mission of STS and ensure that its programs are an appropriate use of resources. I look forward to my continued involvement with this organization and giving young women an education that will help prepare them to take advantage of a wider range of opportunities in both their professional and family lives.