- Where will the funds for this Strategic Partnership come from?
Dining for Women currently has the funds available as a result of the record amount of grant donations we received from our members last year. 2015 was the first time we exceeded $1 million in grant donations in a single year. Thanks to the generosity of our members, we were able to fully fund our featured and sustained grant commitments, fund three reserve grants, and still set aside $100,000 in funds in anticipation of making additional, proactive investments as we outlined in our 2020 Vision.
- Is this a one-year or multi-year commitment?
At this time, we have committed to a one-year grant.
- What is the Let Girls Learn initiative?
In March 2015, the President and First Lady launched Let Girls Learn, which brings together the Department of State, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), the Peace Corps, and the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC), as well as other agencies and programs, to address the range of challenges preventing adolescent girls from attending and completing school, and from realizing their potential as adults.
- Why is this initiative so important?Educational inequality for girls is a global issue. Of the 62 million girls not in school, 17 million are expected never to enter school. Around the world, girls face complex physical, cultural, and financial barriers in accessing education.
- What are the barriers to girls attending school?
According to UNICEF, barriers range from “supply-side constraints to negative social norms. Some include school fees; strong cultural norms favoring boys’ education when a family has limited resources; inadequate sanitation facilities in schools such as lack of private and separate latrines; and negative classroom environments where girls may face violence, exploitation or corporal punishment.”
- How did this partnership come about?
As with many DFW initiatives, the idea for this partnership came from our members. We have many members who served in the Peace Corps, and one of these members – Peggy Smith — encouraged us to consider the Peace Corps for possible collaborations or partnerships. Peggy, who is our Mid-Atlantic Regional Leader, also facilitated our initial contact with the Peace Corps. After a series of meetings, including one with Peace Corps Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, we knew that this was a good fit for Dining for Women due to the many shared goals of our organizations.
- Why is this partnership a good fit for Dining for Women?
The goals of the Let Girls Learn initiative are completely in line with DFW’s mission to empower women and girls living in extreme poverty. The Peace Corps is also a good fit due to the similarities in our missions and culture. Both Dining for Women and the Peace Corps work at the grassroots level, often at what is considered the “last mile” in the most remote and poverty-stricken communities in the world. We share the goal of creating sustainable change abroad by collaborating with local leaders on community-driven solutions, and by mobilizing people here in the U.S. to become global citizens. In addition, both our organizations nurture long, enduring relationships with our respective members.The fact that many DFW members are Returned Peace Corps Volunteers is a testament to the commonalities between our two organizations.
- Why does DFW consider it important to invest in girls’ education?
DFW knows that educating girls in the developing world is key to transforming lives, eradicating poverty, and ensuring gender equity. We know that educating girls has wide-ranging benefits that extend beyond the individual. When a girl is educated, she is more likely to earn a viable living, delay marriage, have fewer and healthier children, and improve the quality of life for herself, her family, her community, and her country.
- Why isn’t DFW supporting education for girls in the U.S.?
DFW’s mission is to invest in programs that make a meaningful difference for women and girls in developing countries. We know that creating equity for women and girls is the key to ending root poverty. We also know that small investments make a big impact. For example, when 10% more girls go to school, a country’s GDP increases on average by 3%. (For more info, see Why Is Giving Internationally is Important?)
- How is this partnership consistent with DFW’s mission and its 2020 Vision?
This partnership is in line with DFW’s mission to empower women and girls living in extreme poverty. It is also consistent with our 2020 Vision which sets out our intent to invest proactively in issues affecting women and girls in order to increase our impact. We specifically want to invest in collaborations and partnerships that help us “move the needle” on the root causes of poverty and gender equity. This one-year grant to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program allows us to invest and make an impact on one of the most pressing issues affecting women and girls – education.
- Isn’t the Peace Corps a government agency? I thought that DFW did not award grants to government organizations?
Yes, the Peace Corps is an independent U.S. government agency. What is important is that the Let Girls Learn program will fund local community-initiated, Volunteer-managed projects that depend 100% on private sector funding. Our grant will support these projects, and not the agency.DFW does not fund governmental organizations under our featured grant program. This Strategic Partnership is, however, consistent with DFW’s Impact Partnership Policy which was passed by our Board last year as part of our 2020 Vision. This policy gives the Board more flexibility in terms of partnering with organizations that can assist us in making a greater impact on issues affecting women and girls. Both our volunteer Grant Selection Committee and our Board approved the grant to the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund as an excellent example of an effective strategic partnership.
- How much of the $100,000 investment will actually reach girls in the developing world? Won’t the Peace Corps have administrative costs that will need to be covered?
One benefit to supporting the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund is that Congressional appropriations cover the Peace Corps’ administration costs. This means that there are zero overhead costs – 100% of DFW’s funds will go directly to the projects in the field and to helping women and girls on the ground.
- Was this Strategic Partnership screened and vetted in the same way as our monthly featured grantees?
This grant was rigorously screened, vetted, and approved by our volunteer Grant Selection Committee and Board as per our Impact Partnership Policy.
- Will there be educational materials on this Peace Corps partnership similar to what we have for our monthly featured grantees?
The Peace Corps Let Girls Learn program has educational materials that it will share with DFW. We will have access to a video similar to the ones we have for our monthly featured grantees. We expect this will be on the 3rd quarter DVD which will be sent out to all DFW chapters. We will also have information posted on our website, and ongoing information and updates in our member newsletter, The Dish.
- How will DFW’s funds be used by the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Program?DFW’s grant will be used by Peace Corps Volunteers in developing countries around the world to fund grassroots, community-led projects that address barriers to girls’ education and improve the quality of that education.
- What type of projects will be funded?
The types of projects that will be eligible for DFW funds will include:
- GLOW Camps and Clubs focus on math and science, life skills, HIV/AIDS education, career advice and many other subjects that will empower the girls and get them more invested in their education.
- Men as Partners (MAP) projects seek to promote increased gender equality and involve men in addressing the health and gender issues that affect their families and communities.
- STEM Projects for Girls inspire girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering, and math.
- Business and Entrepreneurial Training for Girls provide girls with enhanced business skills, increased confidence, an understanding of the creative process necessary to be an entrepreneur, and a better understanding of how they can uniquely contribute to their community and its economy.
- Why is DFW supporting projects for men? I thought DFW’s mission was to help women and girls?
While the primary purpose of all our grants is to help women and girls, this is not the first time that one of DFW’s grant projects has involved men and boys to some degree. For example, SHE included boys in its menstrual hygiene education, and the Grandmother Project encouraged grandmothers to target their sons to empower their teenage grandchildren. We know that male buy-in and support is critical to achieving gender equity. The MAP projects will focus on building the skills and capacity of young men to think critically about gender. Involving men in this way will positively impact women and girls in the communities.
- How will the projects be developed and selected?
Peace Corps Volunteers work with community leaders where they are serving. Together, they identify local needs and generate ideas for projects to address those pressing needs. Once the idea for a project is developed, the Peace Corps Volunteer submits a project proposal to the Peace Corps for approval. The project is then posted online to raise money from the family and friends of the Volunteer along with other donors. This provides the opportunity to engage donors and members of the public in supporting Peace Corps Volunteers and activities. After the project has been online for two weeks, the Peace Corps will evaluate whether it meets the criteria of the DFW Strategic Partnership, and will allocate funding to the project.
- How many projects will be funded under the grant?
These projects are small-scale and community driven, with an average cost ranging from approximately $1,050 to $2700. The Peace Corps anticipates that about 95 Let Girls Learn projects will be funded by the DFW grant.
- How will we know that these projects address real needs in the communities?
All Let Girls Learn projects are community-driven. It is a requirement that community members, including women, must be involved in the development, execution, and sustainability of every project funded. In addition, all communities must contribute a minimum of 25% of the project costs in either in-kind or cash support. This ensures the community has a vested interest in the project and helps ensure long-term sustainability of the work.
- How will we know exactly how the $100,000 is spent? What accountability is in place?
On a quarterly basis, the Peace Corps will provide a list of the projects funded by the partnership grant. Project lists will include the title of the project, a description, the country in which the project will be implemented, the total project cost, and the dollar amount at which DFW is funding each project. These quarterly project announcements will be posted on DFW’s website and available to all members. In addition, Peace Corps will present a final report to DFW at the end of the grant period. This will include an overall description of the impact of the Partnership grant; a description of the types of projects funded; a detailed breakdown of projects supported by region; and project highlights from around the globe.
- How many girls will benefit from this grant?
According to Peace Corps estimates, the projects funded by Dining for Women will impact the lives of more than 50,000 people, both directly and indirectly. It is anticipated that we will directly impact 8,500 rural community members, including 5,500 women (4,000 between the ages of 15 and 24) and we will indirectly impact 43,000 people, 27,000 of which will be women (19,000 between the ages of 15 and 24).
- What countries will receive DFW funds through Let Girls Learn?
This is dependent on which projects are selected to receive DFW funding. The Peace Corps currently serves in 64 countries, all of which are eligible to submit Let Girls Learn projects for funding. The Peace Corps, similar to DFW, typically serves in some of the most poverty-stricken communities in the world. One of the benefits of this partnership is that it will allow DFW to fund projects in areas where we have not been before.
- Doesn’t the Peace Corps serve in some countries (i.e. Eastern Europe) that are not considered “developing” and that would not meet DFW’s grant guidelines?
Peace Corps volunteers live and serve in some of the most vulnerable, underserved communities around the world. There is significant overlap between the DFW approved country list and Peace Corps countries. DFW has identified an approved list of countries for project funding.. This list is primarily based on the percentage of the population living under the World Bank’s poverty line of $1.90 per day.
- Does the Peace Corps have other partners in the Let Girls Learn program?
Yes, the Peace Corps has other partners and collaborators that are helping to raise awareness, share knowledge, develop new programs and partnerships and support the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund. Some of these collaborators include Lands’ End, Project Runway, Alex and Ani, Girls Inc, Girl Scouts of the USA, Sesame Workshop, The UPS Foundation, Xerox Foundation, and others.
- How will this partnership affect individual chapters and chapter meetings? Will we still have a monthly featured grant?
This partnership will not affect individual chapter or chapter meetings. The main focus of monthly chapter meetings will continue to be our featured grantees.