Who we are
Girls With Books! was established on October 1, 2022, by the merger of two small and successful organizations – Empowerment Through Education Foundation (ETE) and Project Education South Sudan (PESS), each with a 17-year history of serving the educational needs of South Sudanese youth.
Girls With Books! maintains a 501(c)(3) status with the IRS and also maintains an NGO registration with the governments of South Sudan and Uganda.
What we do
We fulfill our mission by providing education for South Sudanese girls living in the cities of Juba and Bor, South Sudan, and in refugee camps in northern Uganda. The program serves both primary and secondary students and also offers some post-graduation programs such as computer skills and entrepreneurship, which are not commonly taught in schools.
Girls With Books! pays tuition, room and board for girls to attend private schools. Government-run public schools do not currently offer the quality needed to prepare students for employment and higher educational opportunities. The program also pays for mentoring and training programs to support the academic success of the girls, and to prepare them for leadership. Program costs include uniforms, schools supplies and personal supplies like toiletries and feminine hygiene products.
The need we address
South Sudan has one of the highest rates of “out of school” children in the world at 70% according to UNICEF (December 2021) – girls much more so than boys. World Bank statistics show that the country is near the bottom of the list for women’s literacy – only 29% of women in the country can read and write, and less than 5% of girls currently graduate from High School. Clearly the work of Girls With Books! is profoundly needed in this, the world’s newest nation.
Girls With Books! is led by Executive Director Micklina Kenyi, a South Sudanese woman who fled the fighting in her home country as a young girl, and after spending time in refugee camps and a group home, was able to emigrate to the US where she received a university education and became a US citizen.
Micklina helped a number of other young women come to the US in the ensuing years, and she now pours her energy into helping young South Sudanese girls receive an education so they can take their place in business, community, and government in their home country. Micklina has a team of workers and volunteers who keep the programs running in the various locations where Girls With Books! supports young scholars. She personally returns to Africa annually, visiting each school location and ensuring the programs are performing as intended.
Girls With Books! has a dedicated board of directors—several of whom are originally from South Sudan—who work in close relationship with the Executive Director to raise funds for the various programs and to promote the organization through events and other fundraising efforts.