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Let Girls Learn initiative has new commitments and new dollars

Less than 100 days to go and the first lady is still making moves

Education is dear to Michelle Obama and with less than 100 days left as first lady, she is still working tirelessly to ensure necessary steps are taken to help adolescent girls around the world obtain an education. Tuesday was declared the International Day of the Girl and Obama made a big announcement involving new commitments to her big education initiative, Let Girls Learn.

The barriers girls experience prevent or limit them from getting a quality education. More than $5 million has been allocated for more private-sector commitments to help address the challenges adolescent girls face every day. More than $1 billion has been invested in the program since Let Girls Learn was launched in 2005.

Nearly 100 private-sector businesses announced by the White House have benefited from the initiative. The sectors are improving the future of millions of adolescent girls around the world.

The additional funds help address the range of challenges both inside and outside the classroom in more than 50 countries. The initiative operates with U.S. Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development, the Peace Corps, the Millennium Challenge Corp., and most recently the Department of Labor and the Department of Agriculture. Together the agencies are committed to girls’ education.

According the White House, these are additional organizations and companies that will directly engage with Let Girls Learn.

RISE UP’s LET GIRLS LEAD is committing to deliver new programming worth $2.5 million to enable girls to finish school and delay early marriage in Malawi through its new ENGAGE Initiative. ENGAGE is an evidence-based program that addresses the complex needs of vulnerable adolescent girls by ensuring that they stay in school and avoid early marriage. Rise Up’s goal is to reach 300,000 marginalized girls in southern Malawi. Rise Up will also build public support for girls’ rights by investing in visionary Malawian leaders, providing them with leadership development and support to create innovative solutions that advance girls’ access to education.

NEWMAN’S OWN FOUNDATION announces a $200,000 donation to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. An additional grant of $800,000 is being made to Shining Hope for Communities, which runs the Kibera School for Girls in Kenya so that girls may continue their education through high school.

ENDEAVOR ENERGY, an independent power development and generation company, is donating $400,000 over four years to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund to support volunteer-led education and empowerment projects in Africa. A Power Africa partner, Endeavor continues to be a part of President Barack Obama’s initiative to increase the number of people around the world who have access to power.

CENTRAL ASIA INSTITUTE is committing $500,000 for educational services and programs that will benefit adolescent girls in some of Afghanistan’s most conflicted and disadvantaged communities. This includes construction of boundary walls and latrines, which are essential for the retention of female students. Girls who previously had no access to schooling will be prepared for a formal education in expedited Quick Learning Centers. Literacy and Vocational Centers will empower girls, teaching them how to read, write, and do basic math. Scholarship money will also be provided. Through this commitment, Central Asia Institute expects to reach 25,000-30,000 adolescent girls.

WATER CHARITY, a California-based nonprofit, and the National Peace Corps Association announced a $200,000 donation to support water, sanitation, public health, and environmental projects implemented by Peace Corps Volunteers under the Let Girls Learn initiative. Projects are implemented in rural villages to improve access to potable water, relieving girls of the burden of walking long distances to obtain water for their families every day. Restrooms are provided for adolescent girls at schools, ensuring that the facilities provide privacy and promote hygiene, thus helping create an environment that enables girls to remain in school.

WORLD LEARNING AND THE WOMEN’S REFUGEE COMMISSION announce the Pathways to Refugee Education program, a new $250,000 collaboration aligned with the Let Girls Learn initiative. Pathways to Refugee Education will help facilitate access to formal and informal education for adolescent girls in difficult circumstances with an initial focus on Lebanon. The project will provide technical assistance and expert recommendations to governments, civil society, and international institutions that are designing, funding, and implementing assistance programs to address the unique circumstances and needs of adolescent girls.

GIRL STARTER announces a $100,000 donation to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Girl Starter is a new media company that seeks to use the intersection of entertainment and technology to help girls at home and abroad to become entrepreneurs. In a reality television series set to air in 2017, young women who wish to start their own businesses will learn about fundraising fundamentals and develop strategies using the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn fund as a cause to raise money.

THE BARNEYS NEW YORK FOUNDATION is making a commitment to support the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. The donation will support Peace Corps Volunteer-led projects aimed at helping break down the barriers to adolescent girls’ access to education.

CNN FILMS premiered a film about girls overcoming incredible challenges to achieve their educations and change their own lives, titled We Will Rise: Michelle Obama’s Mission to Educate Girls Around the World on Tuesday and Wednesday. The film included contributions from first lady Michelle Obama, Meryl Streep, Freida Pinto, and CNN journalist Isha Sesay. The Documentary Group, which produced CNN Films’ first co-production, Girl Rising, also produced this special one-hour film.

INSTYLE commissioned a limited-edition line of designer tote bags inspired by Let Girls Learn. For each tote bag sold, InStyle will donate 100 percent of profits (a minimum of 30 percent of the purchase price) to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Each bag in the line was inspired by a different country where Let Girls Learn is creating lasting change. Carolina Herrera, Diane von Furstenberg, Prabal Gurung, Jason Wu, Narciso Rodriguez, Tanya Taylor, and DKNY’s Dao-Yi Chow and Maxwell Osborne provided exclusive designs for the collection.

MPA – THE ASSOCIATION OF MAGAZINE MEDIA has received commitments from the magazine media industry to donate advertising space for Let Girls Learn public service announcements that are running in 65 print magazines in fall 2016 issues, with most hitting the newsstand and subscribers’ mailboxes to coincide with the International Day of the Girl. The ad campaign is expected to reach more than 60 percent of U.S. adults through the support of 11 companies: Active Interest Media, Bloomberg Media, Bonnier, Condé Nast, Dwell Media, Forbes Media, Hearst, Meredith, National Geographic, Rodale and Time Inc.

PLAYBILL INC. is supporting Let Girls Learn through a public service announcement set of ads in upcoming Playbill publications to raise awareness about global girls’ education. The campaign will reach theater goers for select shows running in New York in November.

ALEX AND ANI announces the launch of a Daisy Charm Bangle to be released in March 2017 in continued support of the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Last year, ALEX AND ANI released the Kindred Cord Daisy bracelet as a commitment to Let Girls Learn, which has raised nearly $200,000 to support girls around the world who are out of school.

NATIONAL PEACE CORPS ASSOCIATION (NPCA) has committed to contribute its Combined Federal Campaign (CFC) contributions in 2016 to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn fund to support volunteer community-led projects around the world. NPCA, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, encompasses a network of over 220,000 individuals and more than 150 affiliate groups. The mission of the CFC is to promote and support philanthropy through a program that is employee-focused and effective in providing all federal employees with the opportunity to improve the quality of life for all.

THE WORLD BANK, which recently pledged $2.5 billion over five years in education projects targeting adolescent girls, announced that it has already invested $530 million since April 2016 toward this goal. These resources will help adolescent girls gain access to quality education in some of the world’s most challenging environments, such as Syrian refugee communities in Lebanon; in Pakistan, where few girls complete secondary school; and conflict-affected areas in northeast Nigeria.

Kelley Evans is a general editor at The Undefeated. She is a food passionista, helicopter mom and an unapologetic southerner who spends every night with the cast of The Young and the Restless by way of her couch.