Mosqoy Holiday Match!

Starting December 18th, The School Fund’s donors will double their impact. When donations are given to any student on TSF’s website, our partner Inner Fire Yoga Apparel will match that same amount and donate up to $3,000 total to our Mosqoy students in Peru!


Here’s how the match will work:

  • Any donation made to a student on The School Fund website—starting December 18that 12:01 am PST and up to $3,000 total—will be matched by Inner Fire Yoga Apparel with a donation to a Mosqoy student.
  • Donations will be matched at 100%, meaning a $40 donation to any student on The School Fund website triggers an additional $40 donation to a Mosqoy student. If the original donation is to a Mosqoy student, the donation doubles (but not necessarily to the same Mosqoy student).
  • Matching funds will be distributed among Mosqoy’s students based on need at the end of the match campaign.
  • If funds exceed Mosqoy students’ total need for the current funding cycle, we will devote excess matching funds to Mosqoy students’ following funding cycle.
  • Matching funds for the current funding cycle will be applied within two weeks of Match Day.
  • Only online donations will be matched.

Mosqoy is dedicated to promoting educational and cultural rights for Andean communities in Peru. On average only four percent of Quechua youth continue their studies at a technical institute or university (compared with a national average of 43 percent). Theirs is a culture that is threatened by a steady flow of tourists and a government that local communities describe as corrupt and neglectful. But through The School Fund, Mosqoy students get the opportunity to pursue their educational dreams and prepare to rebuild their communities.

Teaching is her “Perfect Match”

Today we’re beginning a series of short profiles about our students, their lives and what their educations mean to them. So often, we tell our supporters that they have changed a life. “Education is opportunity,” has become our tagline. It’s all absolutely true. Here’s what that truth looks like from the perspective of our students.

Pammi Singh

Pammi Singh is from a big family—one of seven supported by her father, a farmer. Together they live on about 25000 Rupees (roughly $460) a year.

After Pammi finished primary school, her father could no longer afford her educational expenses. Instead he started looking for a “perfect match” for her. In some ways, that outcome would have made her much like her peers. In India, 47 percent of girls are wed before adulthood; 18 percent are married before they turn 15. These young brides often show signs of sexual abuse, post-traumatic stress, are twice as likely to report being beaten, slapped or threatened, and often experience depression.

But Pammi wanted more. Fortunately, she found a program run by TSF partner Milaan that helps girls who have dropped out get back into school and prepare for their Class X (tenth grade) exams. She knew her father would not spend another penny on her education, and says that only made her more determined to enroll in the program.

It was a turning point.

Today, with the help of her teachers and the support from TSF funders, Pimma has passed those exams and aspires to be a teacher one day, so that she can spread the importance of girls’ education to her community. She wants every girl to fight for this right.

A Summary Report of the TSF Summer 2014 EDVenture Trip


By Maho Amos – TSFTZ Chief Operation Officer in Tanzania 

Excerpted by the Blog Editor

The trip began when the US TSF team travelled from Karatu to Iringa on June 24th, 2014. With a midnight curfew in Iringa, the police blocked all roads within 10 miles of town. After being stopped and questioned by the police and with much begging and pleading on our part, we finally were allowed to go.

All students and teachers arrived at Ummu Salama School on the morning of June 25th, 2014. After a brief welcome speech from Mr. Mohamed Said, the Vice Chairman of TSF Tanzania, the first workshop began.

The US TSF brought with them a suitcase of hands-on learning materials such as Kidizens and about 10 Rasberry Pi units to be installed and made available to teachers and students alike. These technologies allow us to access very rich and selective educational contents such as Wikipedia, Khan Academy, C-12 contents, Medline contents, etc. even if no Internet connectivity is available.

Student and Teacher Workshops

Teachers were taught how to use computers to extract teaching and learning materials. Some teachers even paid to buy Rasberry Pis for their personal studies.

Yunteng and his son, Andrew, provided Physics lessons. Our students now know much more about electrical circuits.

IMG_6952With the help of Kidizens that came in a big suitcase, Matt’s class learned a lot about how to build well organized and well planned cities. I believe that when students learned these skills, they will be able to build their own cities when they grow up. I learned that the hands-on, learning by doing, approach is an excellent way to learn. There were no bored and idle students in this class. They were all too excited and busy planning their cities.

Dr. Cari with her assistant, Cathy, they truly transformed our students from passive to active participants. The students were given opportunities to express themselves in front of their peers and teachers. This concept of teaching is quite refreshing for me because African teachers tend to give lectures but not ask students what they know and think. I also learned from them that in order for the students to continue to learn well, they do need short breaks to get some fresh air, relax and unwind. This way, they can return to the class rooms fresh, and eager to learn.

Lynene taught the newest TSF students about the internet.  Most of them had not used a computer before. Through her and Jessie’s assistance, the new students started posting to their Journals with ease.

The workshops and classes for teachers and students were an incredible success we cannot wait to apply what we have learned. We are looking forward to seeing you all again in the near future.

The School Fund Tanzania’s Vice Chairman’s Speech to Guests From Abroad

This summer, members of The School Fund’s US team and Summer Fellows, visited TSF students living and attending school in Iringa, Tanzania. Upon their arrival, The School Fund Tanzania Vice Chairman Muhammed Said welcomed the guests.  The following is the speech he delivered:

While most people live in homes, in palaces, and in selected places on this land, there are a few people who live in the hearts of other people for immemorial ages.

While some great men and eminent men have monuments in bronze and marble set up for them, some men of divine fire manage in their lives to become enshrined in hundreds of hearts of people, with the divine fire in their hands.  We praise them.

Sadly 97% of the 6 billion people on planet Earth are inward looking, selfish, and maintain their own status quo throughout their lives.  Only the remaining 3% of the people move the world.  These individuals are men and women of action with strong faith that enables them to overcome the fear of failure.  They move people from survival to stability, from stability to success, and from success to significance.  They equip people to pursue their purpose with passion and perseverance.

For the whole of my past speaking I was in fact talking about our honorable guests from the TSF family from abroad.  Mr.  Matt [TSF Founder Matt Severson], Madam Judy [TSF Tanzania Director Judy Severson], Drika [TSF CEO Drika Weller], and the whole delegation from the United States of America.  You are warmly welcome to Tanzania, welcome to Iringa, welcome to Ummu Salama Education Center.  It is not a hidden fact that it is you who plotted TSF and developed it, and you have brought our children a life changing course that will take them towards the future life, which will bring them to fulfillment and significance.

I have accorded these assertions with confidence in order to revive your kindness and morality to continue to uphold this mission until it results into unprecedented achievements.

After this juncture, may I congratulate the resident TSF Chairman, Mr. Fuad Abri.  His commendable effort and role in facilitating functionality of the organization cannot be left unsaid. In spite of his numerous duties, he makes sure the TSF wheel spins to fruition.

May I express sincere gratitude to the TSF Iringa coordinator, Mr. Amos Maroa, who untiringly works with children to ensure TSF objectives are reached.  I take another opportunity to express thanks to my fellow headmasters and teachers from partner schools (Miyomboni, Highlands, and Lugalo) for participating in this colorful occasion.

Again may I congratulate all TSF students, who have attended the workshop.  It is my hope that at the end of the program each of us will reap benefits necessary for bringing about change to the whole community in Tanzania.

Lastly, may I welcome all parties to Ummu Salama Center and with that I declare the workshop open.


Muhammed Said


My Journey to Tanzania, East Africa with The School Fund

Photo courtesy of Kim Le

By Jonathan Gilbert, 2013 TSF Summer Fellow

I knew I wanted to visit Africa after attending the School Fund’s first birthday party back when I was in seventh grade. The School Fund (TSF) is a non-profit organization dedicated to helping underprivileged students in developing countries further their education. Matt Severson, co founder of TSF, gave a talk during the party. I remember being incredibly impressed and moved by Matt’s passion and commitment to The School Fund.

Last June I had the opportunity to visit Tanzania and see it with my own eyes. After a 44-hour journey from San Francisco to Tanzania including four flights, one missed connection, and a ten-hour bus ride, I finally arrived in Iringa. Iringa Photo courtesy of Kim Leis located in the Southern Highlands where The School Fund sponsors more than 40 students. There, I taught science classes and played sports with the School Fund students.

I felt an instant connection with these students.  Outwardly, they seemed like kids who could be from any part of the world. They enjoyed soccer and basketball, just like me. Their eyes sparkled and their smiles widened with recognition as I played Shakira and Justin Bieber’s music from my phone – music they had previously heard on their communal radio.  We also shared the same passion for learning and insatiable curiosity.

Although they wore carefree smiles, as I got to know these students by talking to them about their life experiences and visiting with their families, I learned that outside of their schools, they face incredible hardships.

Only a handful of lucky students had two parents. More commonly, they lived with one parent, grandparent, or relative who struggled as a common farmer or market laborer to put food on the table for the entire family.   Many also lived in orphanages because their parents were too poor to raise them or chose to abandon their children.  Many children had to work hard to provide their family income.

The CIA World Fact book indicates that in Tanzania, the average person earns only $4.66 a day.  Many families have lost parents to AIDS, malaria, and various illnesses that could have been treated if only they had a medical clinic nearby or enough money to buy medicine. Up to 10% suffer from HIV/AIDS. Three million of the 18 million children are orphaned due to a variety of causes, with HIV, alcoholism, and abandonment being most common.

Many children are undernourished and neglected, and end up living in orphanages or on the streets.  In the rural areas, houses are made of makeshift cardboard and mud. The neighborhoods are lined with trash, and the air smells filthy from fire and rotten garbage.

Only a high performing one-third of Tanzanian children are able to go on to secondary school. However, these students routinely get expelled because they cannot pay their school fees.

What struck me the most was the students’ innocence and eagerness to learn, and what going to school actually meant for them. For these students, obtaining an education was the only escape out of their oppressive world. Without a good education, they would stay trapped in the dreaded cycle of poverty. I didn’t realize how much it meant to them until I saw on their faces the expressions of gratitude for the classes brought to them by The School Fund.

In this region of the world, with more than 44% of the population younger than 15 years old, I believe the future of Tanzania depends on the very young generation to break the dreaded cycle of poverty, disease, and violence.

I cannot think of a better cause than to give these eager students the gift of education that will allow them to achieve their dreams.  With the help of The School Fund, today’s students can become tomorrow’s leaders, and bring a brighter future to their country.

An Interview with Lucas R.

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is home in Karatu, Tanzania.  Last week, John interviewed Lucas R., who has been supported by The School Fund since 2013.  View Lucas’ TSF profile and Journal here.

Lucas R. is in Form Four at Mlimani Secondary School in Karatu and is 18 years old.  Lucas has one sister and one brother and they live with their mom and dad.  His dad and mom cook on the street and sell food to earn money to support the family.  They live in a small house which has two rooms.  Lucas said his mom was always responsible for the family more than his father, so most of the time he grew up under the care of his mother.

When I asked Lucas about life in Africa, he said life is tough in Africa because some families in Africa sleep without having food every day and he said this is caused by a lack of education as they don’t know how to make money to support daily costs.

When I asked him about hardship, Lucas said the hardest moment of his life is when his family was in Dar es Salaam. There, they were living in a house they rented, but their house was sold by the owner of the house and his father and mother did not have somewhere else to stay, so the father shifted to Karatu and Lucas, his brother, and sister had to live with someone in their family.  In 2007, Lucas had to follow his father to Karatu where his dad was working as a cook in a hotel and was able to pay for his rent.  After Lucas, the whole family moved to Karatu and family life began again.

Lucas finds doing personal revision at home to be challenging because sometimes there is no paraffin and hence no power.  In addition, he sometimes has to help his parents sell food after school, so he comes home late and tired and falls asleep without finding time to read for school.

His biggest dream is to become a pilot and when I asked why he said he just loves it from his heart and he doesn’t know why he likes it but he dreams of it.

Lucas said kids suffer a lot as most of them lack their parents’ love and care.  Kids become street children, especially those who come from uneducated families.

For him he sees The School Fund as his heart and he said TSF has improved his life by sending him to secondary school and exposing him to the internet.  In his school, there are no computers, so he believes if it weren’t for TSF not even half his dream could be fulfilled.  But with TSF’s support, he says, he will soon reach his destiny and his dream will be fulfilled. Lucas concluded the interview by saying that in reality education is always the light.  No education will lead to a life full of darkness.

A Message from TSF Founder Matt Severson

I co-founded The School Fund over four years ago after a life changing experience in Tanzania.  I was amazed that something as little as $150 per year in school fees could stand in the way of a young boy or girl and their ability to continue going to school.  Over the years, I’ve become more and more convinced of the power of education.  In countries with a per capital income of $2 per day or less, each year of school a student completes means a 10% increase in future earning capacity.

Furthermore, unlike a food handout, that which is learned can never be taken away.

I’m delighted with the impact The School Fund has had so far.  In four years, we have supported 765 students, funded 1225 years of education and graduated 157 students—with individual donors contributing anywhere between $1-$500. We’ve secured incredible partnerships with Chegg, Kathy Ireland, Grammy-nominated artist Carolyn Malachi and more.  I’m even more excited about the impact still to come. We’ve reached a tipping point and see that we are at the precipice of reaching many more students. Exciting new partnerships are in the works.Drika Weller, PhD

To help propel us through this next stage of growth, we needed someone who could bring expertise in education and international development—someone who could dedicate herself entirely to The School Fund’s next chapter.  And so I’m thrilled to welcome Drika Weller, PhD as The School Fund’s new CEO.  She comes to us from USAID’s Global
Development Lab where she spearheaded programs to help children and youth in Sub-Saharan Africa emerge from adversity.

Drika is that unique combination of scholar and passionate advocate.  She has hit the ground running, and from the relationships she has already helped The School Fund establish, I can see she will lead us toward a bright future.

I will continue to be heavily involved with The School Fund from my spot as Board Chair and remain committed as ever to our mission: to create a world where any student, no matter where they are born, is able to get an education.

The School Fund: A Gateway to Secondary Education

By Drika Weller, Chief Executive Officer of The School Fund

When our founder Matt Severson met John Medo in 2010, John had already proven his academic ability. He’d passed his secondary school qualifying exams and was eager to learn more. But he lacked the $150 to pay his school fees and faced dropping out as a result. If not for Matt’s ability to raise those funds, John’s educational journey might have stopped then and there.

Today, millions of children are in precisely the position John was once in. They have worked and excelled throughout primary school, only to fall short financially when they were ready to move up through the next step in their educations. In fact, today increasing numbers of children are failing to take the step from primary to secondary school.

Expanded Primary School Attendance

We are currently experiencing a global, seismic shift in access to education. The United Nation’s laudable second Millennium Development Goal—that by 2015, boys and girls everywhere will be able to complete a full course of primary schooling—is gaining traction.

In developing countries, by 2010, primary school enrollment reached 90 percent—that’s up from 82 percent in 1999. One major contributing factor to that jump in enrollment is the abolition of primary school fees in many countries.

By eliminating primary school fees, Kenya, for example, quickly enrolled an additional 2 million students in primary school. Ethiopia’s primary school enrollment increased 88 percent between 2000-2007. By abolishing school fees in 2001, Tanzania almost doubled its primary enrollment rates from 1999.

This shift has led to an exploding demand for secondary school, yet it has not translated into secondary school attendance. Why?

Secondary School Bottleneck

In many cases, there simply isn’t room for the swelling ranks of primary-educated students. According to one 2011 United Nations report, two out of three African children are effectively shut out of secondary school. (In sub-Saharan Africa there are only enough spaces for 36 percent of secondary school aged students.)

Other barriers abound: few low-income countries provide free secondary education; distance to school often increases at the secondary level; and drop-out rates grow where young people face school violence, drug abuse and HIV/AIDS. What’s more, secondary education often costs more per student—tuition fees go up and there are uniforms to pay for. Families measure these costs against what their sons and daughters could be earning if put to work.

Staying in school is especially hard for girls.

Girls and boys attend school in equal numbers in only 2 out of 130 countries. Girls make it to primary school, but then drop out. The root of the problem is often poverty. Girls and women in many parts of the world spend hours every day fetching water. At school they face lack of access to decent sanitation facilities. Pregnancy, child marriage, gender roles, and violence also hinder girls’ ability to pursue secondary education.

But the new educational reality is this: despite rapid gains in primary school attendance, bright young minds are stuck at an educational bottleneck—and for some, that barrier is still a sum of around $150.

Filling the Gap

Despite tremendous gains in education across many developing nations, it is projected that only 56 percent of countries will achieve universal primary education by 2015. Even if, as expected, universal lower secondary education becomes an explicit goal after 2015, we are clearly (and sadly) many years from making that goal a reality.

The School Fund exists to fill a financial gap for high-achieving students. Many of them dream of being doctors, lawyers, engineers, or even teachers. They are the very students who could fail to make that leap from primary to secondary school; they may be forced out of secondary school after a year or two of study. They are the young people represented by the statistics that show how universal primary education is beginning to work—and how access to secondary education is so painfully limited.

It is for these students that we work. I know first-hand the impact that an education has had on my own and my family’s life, and I feel a strong desire to help give this opportunity to others. One funded student at a time—and through each journal entry—they show us who their education is allowing them to become. They show us why access to secondary education is essential.

Education is a Battle: A Poem by TSF TZ Students in Iringa

Education is a Battle

by Our Tanzanian Buddies: Shadya, Moza, Mwajuma, Mwanahana, Shamila and Swabra

Inspired by Ugandan Poet Okoth P Bitek

Education is a battle and I will fight it

Studying hard and sleepless nights, Burning candles on both sides,

These are my weapons, by tooth and nails I shall never rest until I achieve my goals


Education is a battle I shall fight it,

Waking up early, in cold weather,

Bathing in dust, from home to school

Walking a long distance with the hot sun on my body, on empty stomach, I study hard.

But I shall never give up in this battle.


I will never give up in the battle, until I succeed

I want to live in style, just like whites

Comfortable villas, Cars, parties, and a stable income

I want to have all that, just for a change

I will work hard until I see my dreams come true


I will work hard, and never give up!


It is very simple to achieve goals, for all it takes is patience have patience in your education

The roots to education are bitter, but the fruits are sweet,

With all the hardship we carry on, bit by bit we move on

The first step is taken in the right direction, we are confident of our bright future

For will never give up in this battle, the struggle and we shall win


Every one tells me to work hard, which is the other way of saying study hard

I shall surely work hard, for the concern of my future,

The ignorance are slowing down national development, Speaking economically,

We will call them illiterate of cause it is true.


Hard work is the mainstay of mankind,

And it should begin from schoolwork,

I do not need to be lectured so many hours on that fact, I know.

I will work hard like no man’s business, This will give me pride

And the bitter sweat of my face will taste sweet in the future

I know who I should work hard for,



For me!

TSF TZ Karatu Students Meeting – May 3, 2014

John Medo, The School Fund’s very first supported student, is home in Karatu, Tanzania as he awaits his final exam results.  While home, John will support TSF students in Karatu, located in Northern Tanzania near Mt. Kilimanjaro, with their journaling and conduct interviews with them as he did with students in Iringa. Earlier this month, John helped TSF TZ Karatu Representative Elias Matay to facilitate a meeting for all TSF supported students in Karatu.  

Below are minutes from the meeting:











The meeting was opened officially by John, TSF’s first student, who is interning for TSF, by welcoming all students and informing them all about TSF.

Elias, TSF TZ Karatu Representative welcomed all members encouraging each member in attendance to introduce themself.

After introductions, John asked Mr. Paulo, a teacher at Ganako Secondary School, to give short details and talk to students.  He often meets with students to help them with their journals.  Mr. Paulo reminded students that it’s up to them to work hard to insure strong academic performance. With the help of their teachers and their hard work, they will fulfill their dreams.

Elias reminded students that TSF is unable to support students, who do not perform well in school.  He told Mlimani students especially, as their exam results were poor, that they need to work hard.  Elias reminded them that TSF seeks out students who are in the top ten of their class with higher than average scores.

The students agreed that they will work hard and also stated what they want in the future.  Most said they want to be doctors, lawyers, and teachers and all agreed that only through education will their dreams come true.

Students were not clear on the importance of journaling, but after a brief explanation by Elias and John, the students said they will always come although there are many of them and there is only one working computer.  However, Elias and John informed the students that TSF TZ Director Judy Severson and the TSF Team will bring computers with them this summer [to establish an after-school computer center in Karatu similar to the program in Iringa].  They all agreed that they will always come to journal and that should they miss the opportunity to journal, explanations will be required.

The students were happy to hear about the workshop this summer starting in June established by Judy and the Team during which TSF students will learn tips for preparing for their exams, how to build self confidence, how to work in teams and collaborate with one another, and also to learn some computer skills including how to use Google and Wikipedia for their studies.

Students had no major challenges to share, so Elias and John encouraged them to study hard, excel at their studies, and to establish strong time management skills in order to do so.

Every student was so happy after hearing the TSF Team will visit Kartu, so they all welcomed the team to Karatu and are preparing to receive and host the team.  They hope that the team will enjoy themselves in Karatu and have lots of fun.

Then before the meeting was closed John asked the students what The School Fund has done for them.  Most said that TSF has supported their academic [pursuits], has provided some computer knowledge through journaling, and has united them.  One student stated that without TSF, he could not have gotten to know some of the other students, Elias, and John, too.

John asked what their responsibility to TSF is.  They said that it’s their responsibility to not let TSF down — by passing their exams and fulfilling their dreams.

Before the end, John and Elias thanked Mr. Paulo for beeng kind to TSF since the beginning.  Mr. Paulo was also very happy and said he will keep working with TSF since he likes helping and feels that he has also been helped by TSF.

Students did not have any questions, but gave their thanks to the TSF
Team including John, Elias, and Mr. Paulo.  John reminded students about the importance of communicating with people from other countries and that journaling can build friendships with other students.  John also showed the students how to use the Community Page and the students were very happy and asked to join the discussion.

After not having any other business, the meeting was closed at 1:00pm.