Gifts that Keep on Giving

web_childboardbookdoctorparent_01.jpgIn this season of goodwill, there is no better gift than helping a child get a great start in life with an education. An education opens a world of opportunities to end cycles of poverty and improve public health. This is really the gift that keeps on giving because an educated society is economically productive, healthier and more civic-minded. Fortunately, there are some excellent organizations, both in the U.S. and abroad, that would put your holiday donation to good use. Here are a few to consider.

Camfed

Camfed is an international non-profit organization tackling poverty and inequality by supporting girls to go to school and succeed, and empowering young women to step up as leaders of change. Camfed invests in girls and women in the poorest rural communities in sub-Saharan Africa, where girls face acute disadvantage and where their empowerment is now transforming communities. Since 1993, Camfed’s innovative education programs in Zimbabwe, Zambia, Ghana, Tanzania and Malawi have directly supported over 1.2 million students to attend primary and secondary school, and over 3 million children have benefited from an improved learning environment.

And every penny counts. Your generosity pays for Camfed’s Safety Net Fund, which ensures that the most vulnerable girls and boys in rural communities have what they need for primary school. It provides scholarships so that girls – who often miss out on a vital secondary education – can go to high school and stay there. And it provides resources like text books and computers for schools, as well as training teacher mentors and parents support groups so they can help children to stay in school.

Room to Read

Also working internationally, Room to Read focuses on helping first and second grade children “crack the code,” meaning that they can read and write familiar words and basic sentences with full comprehension and express themselves clearly. Those skills provide the foundation for success as they continue on in school.

Room to Read partners with Ministries of Education to supplement gaps that exist in the standard reading and writing curriculum – providing resources, in-service teacher training, and classroom enhancements. In each country, their local teams identify areas where the current early grade literacy curriculum and teacher training fall short, and then works with a “core team” of education experts to develop a program that addresses those issues.

You can target your gift by country and program. Since Room to Read started in 2000, they have benefited 8.8 million children, built over 1,800 schools, and over 16,800 libraries.

Reach Out and Read

Want to contribute to early literacy in the U.S.? Reach Out and Read‘s thousands of doctors and nurses promote early literacy and school readiness to young children and their families in all 50 states. Each year, medical providers at the nearly 5,000 Reach Out and Read program sites nationwide distribute 6.5 million books to children and invaluable literacy advice to parents.

Reach Out and Read builds on the unique relationship between parents and medical providers to develop critical early reading skills in children, beginning in infancy. As recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, Reach Out and Read incorporates early literacy into pediatric practice, equipping parents with tools and knowledge to ensure that their children are prepared to learn when they start school.

Reach Out and Read serves more than 4 million children and their families annually. These children enter kindergarten with larger vocabularies and stronger language skills. During the preschool years, children served by Reach Out and Read score three to six months ahead of their non-Reach Out and Read peers on vocabulary tests. These early foundational language skills help start children on a path of success when they enter school.