Need Hope? Check Out Our Amazing Partner Updates Q1 and Q2-2017

Categorized as: , , , & Tagged as: , , on June 3, 2017.


Author’s note: Hey Everyone, It’s Sally here. Like many Americans, I work more than one job: I’m an attorney and small-business owner (doing the difficult but necessary work of helping couples mediate through the divorce process) in the Albany, New York area. In addition, I serve Skees Family Foundation in two capacities–as program officer, I keep in contact with our global portfolio of partners in education and job-creation; and as board chief financial officer (CFO), I crunch budget-numbers to stretch every last dollar as far as I can get it to go.

I’ve put together our Program Officers Reports for this year, and we decided that it shouldn’t be just the board reading about all of the amazing accomplishments of our partners, so we decided we would start sharing them here, as well! Unfortunately this piece would go on forever if we listed everything from all of our grantees, so we’ve just pulled a few highlights from the first two reports of the year. Congratulations to all of our partners on your many successes, and we look forward to hearing about the many to come!

Sally Skees-Helly By Sally Skees-Helly, Director and Board CFO

Agora Partnerships

Agora Partnerships: This fall, Agora Partnerships received a record number of applications to their Accelerator program. Applications represented diverse companies from 22 countries in Latin America and the Caribbean. Agora is also thrilled to report that 80 percent of applicants had a woman on the founding or senior management team.  The Agora Consulting program had a record 3 percent selection rate (that’s more selective than Princeton or Stanford BTW!), ultimately selecting seven rock star professionals from the US, Colombia, Romania, Chile, Nicaragua, and Italy to serve as 2017 Consultants. These consultants have on average eight years of professional experience, hold at least one master’s degree, and have founded or managed startup organizations.

African Entrepreneurship Collective: Rwanda and Tanzania, Africa: In April, Mastercard pledged a $1M grant to AEC to support 4,800 entrepreneurs, including some 3,000 refugees, over the next three years.

“The intention is to connect refugees with the tools and skills necessary to enable them to become self-sufficient and independent entrepreneurs to improve their own livelihoods, create jobs for others in their communities, and contribute to Rwanda’s larger economic development. Rwanda’s refugee camps and host communities are places of vibrant social and economic activity with bustling markets, shops, restaurants, and industries,” says Julienne Oyler, Executive Director of African Entrepreneur Collective. “Supporting and developing entrepreneurs in these areas will have tremendous impact on the communities themselves and the country at large.”

What a logical way to assimilate refugees, that’s a win-win for everyone.

Akilah Institute for Women

Akilah Institute: Rwanda, Africa: On January 27, Akilah graduated 85 students, its biggest class yet, including their first class of Information Systems students. Akilah is in the process of transitioning its academic model to competency-based education (CBE), a more scaleable academic model. They have almost completed a new business plan and financial model where they hope to reach 1 million African female students and professional through online course modules by 2030, an enroll at least 40,000 women across eight campuses in East Africa by 2030.

Some graduates at Akilah Institute’s graduation ceremony


Anseye Pou Ayiti: Haiti: One thing our grantee partners are always asking of us is how to better tell their story. Video seems to be one of the more engaging ways to do this. APA has completed an engaging video that tells their story. It’s now prominently placed on their website, and hopefully, shining a brighter light on their work.

BESO Foundation: Uganda: Executive Director, Aaron Bukenya, was recently named Visionary of the Month by Hearts on Fire. Also, Aaron was named the 2016 Grassroots Award Winner by the 2017 Segal Family Foundation.

After starting the St. Mark’s School five years ago, the first graduating class of 22 made it to high school. All 22 will continue their secondary education at a boarding school in Kampala.

Some of BESO’s pioneer students at their secondary school

Global Press Journal

Global Press Institute: Multiple countries: In March, GPI was won one of the top three Creator awards given by WeWork. See more here. They were also named one of the top 100 innovative nonprofits and social enterprises by the Classy Awards. It’s good to see them get recognized!


JAAGO Foundation through the Jolkona Foundation

JAAGO: Bangladesh: In February, JAAGO received “The 2016 UNESCO King Hamad Bin Isa Al-Khalifa Prize”($25,000USD) in recognition of its online school project for innovative use of information and communications technology (ICT) in the field of education.

JAAGO Foundation wins ICT in Education Award of UNESCO


Medha: India: They ended their fiscal year in March with impressive numbers. 1,610 young people completed their program across 21 educational institutions, a 26% increase from last year. They placed 463 students and alumni into internships and full time jobs across more than 10 industries, a 141% increase. They are adding 15 new Student Relationship Managers in June, bringing their total team size to 50.

Resonate Workshops: Rwanda and East Africa: Resonate is thoughtfully and strategically planning their vision and their theory of change. They are currently participating in the GSBI Accelerator Program. In March, the Resonate team took part in a successful two-day strategic planning retreat, as part of their six month strategic planning process.

In addition, they’ve created one- and two-hour demos to better explain their methodology. And, Resonate was accepted into the SPRING Accelerator they had applied for earlier in the year. Take a look at their impact over the past year in their easy-to-read Annual Report.

Teach North Korean Refugees

Teach North Korean Refugees: South Korea: Coming up in a trip to the UK, TNKR will hold an English speech contest, as they have in Seoul, for an enclave of North Korean refugees there, to raise awareness about their challenges. Also, Casey Lartigue was recently awarded the “Social Contribution” award by the Hansarang Rural Cultural Foundation. He took part of the award and turned it into a matching donation with great success.

Some photos from the Hansarang Foundation Awards ceremony

The School Fund

The School Fund: Multiple countries: The School Fund rounded out 2016 with some major successes. Scholarships funded 590 students in 2016, up 39% from 2015. They dispersed $223,000 in scholarship, up from $163,000 in 2015. And, 100% of scholarships were fully funded.

The School Fund welcomed their new Executive Director, Louis LoPraeste, author, philosopher, and global marketing strategist. Here is the official TSF announcement.

Take a look at their most recent issue brief, spotlighting limits to educational access in India and how their partner, Milaan is helping get more students into school.

Women LEAD: Nepal: This month, millions of Nepalis headed to the polls to elect nearly 50,000 representatives to municipal and village councils. The last local elections were held in 1997. Just in time for those elections, Women LEAD’s new intensive one month program, Young Women’s Political Leadership Institute, engaged 18 young women in the democratic processes, teaching them how politics can be used to create a positive change in their communities and country. See more in their recent newsletter.


Partner Collaboration: Brienne has facilitated the introductions between several of our grantee partners. Since we just make the introductions, we’re not sure what has come of those contacts, but we will be following up to gauge impact through our annual grantee partner interview.

My Job Update: In March, Suzanne attended an event for Upaya Social Ventures at Linked In, talked about Chapter 2 narrators Arindam and Debaleena, and signed and gave away fifteen books–with a request for donations made straight to Upaya. Also in March, Andrea Atkinson, My Job project manager, led a “story slam” event attended by about fifty people that focused on immigrant Americans’ stories of labor and work.

Two new interns from the Nueva High School in San Francisco will work with Brienne and Andrea this summer to promote MY JOB through video storytelling. Elaine Wan and Ethan Walker begin work on May 22.

Generational Grant Program: Through the incredible generosity of our Board at our 2016 Q4 Board meeting, grants previously designated as board grants have been converted into three two-year grants, each grant designated to one of the three Skees generations. This change is part of the new two-year grant cycle SFF has implemented within of our spend-freeze initiative and is intended to give the extended family an opportunity to learn and engage in the work of the foundation. Each grant will be vetted, discussed, and chosen by each of the three Skees Family generations. Understanding that this is the first time the foundation has structured a grant in this manner, it is assumed the following structure and implementation could change.

A member of the staff, one board member from each generation, and one non-board member from each generation will co-facilitate the implementation of their respective grant. Each generation will be able to conduct the implementation of their grantmaking as they wish. 

Photos acquired from various social media posts and emails.

LEARN more about all of our grantees here.

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