Smashing Barriers To Education

We are part of the movement to smash the barriers keeping girls out of school. Through collaboration, GEC brings assets to help achieve a local vision for the future. We support but don’t lead; we link arms with local change-makers on their initiatives centered on educating girls.

Mission

GEC feeds social change by equipping marginalized, at-risk girls with education and life skills to help them develop their own agency and realize their fullest potential. We do this through deep partnerships with locally-driven initiatives in rural, under-served areas of developing economies. 

Vision

A gender-equal world where all girls are in school and no longer barred from fulfilling and life-equipping education simply because they are a girl.

Values

Honesty & Integrity

We maintain the highest ethical standards; we are open and forthright.

Partnerships

We leverage the resources and expertise of our collaborative partners.

Creativity

We are curious, open-minded and continuous learners.

Collaboration

We create and support connections; collaboration is the key to how we do our work.

Nimble

We are resourceful and adaptive. We respond to opportunities with deliberate pace and action.

Cultural Sensitivity

We are empathetic and value diversity in all forms.

Our Journey

We believe in a simple premise – girls deserve to go to school. 

Girls Education Collaborative grew out of a group of committed, thoughtful people from Buffalo, NY, who saw an opportunity to partner with a locally-led effort in an underserved area to provide safe, quality education for girls.

Opportunity in Global Girls Education

Led by Anne Robinson Wadsworth who has a background in education and expertise in global girls education, these individuals, informed by the work of the Buffalo Tanzania Education Project (BTEP), a university-community initiative of the University at Buffalo’s Center for Educational Collaboration, sought to explore the possibility of a partnership with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa in Tanzania who at the same time were seeking a partner to help their vision come true. Their vision was the Kitenga School for Girls. First conceptualized over twenty years ago, this community of Tanzanian nuns had a model of change and a vision on how to transform a community through the transformative power of girls education.

Being sensitive to the understanding that the world does not need another organization without a compelling reason for its existence, interested BTEP members first became a “thinking group,” to determine how they could add value to the field of global girls education. Despite the growing global conversation and the emerging yet compelling data on the impact of educating girls, relatively few organizations were working directly with communities and taking their lead to support the creation or strengthening of educational opportunities for girls. They explored the need, options, and logistics, and it became clear there were huge spaces to be filled in supporting the education of girls. That group launched GEC as a non-profit corporation in January 2012 with Wadsworth at the helm.

Developing an Innovative Partnership Model

We believed that we could make a difference by taking an innovative approach, choosing to do our work by joining hands with locally-led initiatives seeking partnerships to help their own community-identified priorities find a pathway to fruition. The model was always to work with community-driven initiatives in geographies where other people were not working and where the girls were facing the greatest obstacles and barriers.

With this in mind, we engaged thoughtfully and deeply, with flexibility and creativity, with the Immaculate Heart Sisters of Africa, whose goal was to lift up a community of women living in critical poverty and facing endemic destructive cultural traditions through the Kitenga Secondary School for Girls. Our discovery efforts around the Sisters convinced us that their initiative had enormous opportunity. We also recognized that no other members of the international development community were stepping up to provide otherwise unattainable resources and support.

In its first year, GEC leveraged a seed grant from the Peter C. Cornell Trust Fund in Buffalo and raised almost $150,000 toward the Kitenga Secondary School for Girls.

Realizing a Vision in Rural Tanzania

Fast forward seven years, and GEC has played a pivotal role in helping fulfill a local vision of the Sisters in rural Tanzania to build an extraordinary school for marginalized girls. By securing more than $1.5M in financial support and providing planning expertise and thought partnership for their efforts, GEC became an integral part of transforming the lives of girls in this village. 

By acting as a catalyst to locally driven, led, and owned initiatives, GEC equips marginalized, at-risk girls with education and life skills to help them develop their own agency and realize their fullest potential. GEC works to leverage the resources and expertise of our collaborative partners and donors, and in turn, bring previously untapped assets to community initiatives. None of this would be possible without the dedication and support of our Impact Allies and our whole community of support.

Linking Arms with Our Partners

GEC seeks to make long-lasting change, provide responsive funding, and collaborate with local partners to be an asset in their efforts. When the Sisters asked us to not only be a funder but also to project manage a good part of the capital projects necessary to open the school, we welcomed the invitation and linked arms to become true partners in collaboration. This type of invitation has continued, and GEC has played a pivotal role in helping fulfill the local vision to build an extraordinary school for marginalized girls.

Looking Toward the Future

Today, GEC is a US-based 501(c)3 not-for-profit that supports and promotes the efforts of local change-makers working to create gender equity through the power of education in their communities.  The Kitenga Secondary School for Girls is now in its third year and providing a residential education for 100 students. When the school is fully built-out, enrollment will climb towards 500 students. 

With time, GEC will develop additional partnerships modeled on this one.  For now, a deliberate course has been chosen to ‘scale’ by deepening our engagement and commitment to this young initiative in Kitenga Village, Tanzania. We believe the greatest impact we can now make is to keep fueling its boundless potential, while building a solid footing for an enduring future.

Our Team

The power of GEC lies within everybody who has rolled up their sleeves to support our mission.

Anne Robinson Wadsworth

Executive Director

Erin Klass

Director of Development

Guillemette Dejean

Community Manager

Robert Berger

Chair, Board of Directors

Joseph T. Beecher

Board Member

Christine Brown, DO

Secretary, Board of Directors

Georgia Dachille

Vice Chair, Board of Directors

Ryan Knowles

Treasurer, Board of Directors

Jennifer Meka, PhD

Board Member

Carole Smith Petro, PhD

Chair Emeritus

Robynn Rich

Board Member

Louise Sano

Board Member

Join the Movement

Together, we can show the world that there’s nothing a girl can’t do.