What makes the African Education Program unique?
In response to this question, Executive Director Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza explains, “while there are some other organizations in the area where we work in Zambia, none take the holistic approach that we do with the youth.
Some organizations focus specifically on HIV, some on providing uniforms to primary students, some on entrepreneurship.... but nobody is looking at the whole child or youth, looking comprehensively at her or his challenges and looking at how to best open doors for the students so that they can leverage their potential to the fullest and take their future into their own hands.”
Rather than focusing on one issue such as food security, HIV, or scholarships, AEP prides itself on adopting a wider, holistic focus when providing educational opportunity and leadership development.
This holistic approach is what makes the African Education Program unique. Students involved with the organization are supported emotionally, provided meals on a daily basis, given social opportunities, and provided with an invaluable education. The individual donations it receives are not only increasing a student’s likelihood of future success, but also are improving their overall quality of life.
In regards to the individual donations themselves, AEP is dedicated to maximizing their impact. To accomplish this, the program focuses on keeping administrative costs low so that a maximum of donor funds reach programs in Zambia. Maximizing impact on the region is a top priority for AEP.
Regional impact is not to be overlooked— one of the most important facets of our holistic approach is the personal relationships we are able to form with our students. AEP is unique in that by folding the local Zambian branch, it is intimately involved in the growth of its programs and the capacity of its local Zambian staff. This regional perspective allows mentorship and sustainability planning to remain priorities. By focusing on this close relationship with the region and our students rather than expanding the program, our full attention goes to making sure each student feels completely comfortable within the program and is able to benefit from as many of the program’s resources as possible.
Taking a step back for a moment, the program’s origins are incredibly unique. AEP was founded by four American high school students in 2004, one of which became Executive Director.
Julie-Anne speaks about the organization’s unique founding: “What's great about being a young leader is that you have all the energy, and passion, and drive to put into your cause. You have to know that you will make mistakes and try not to make them twice, learn to ask for help, and learn how to leverage everyone around you to do their best in this work. It's a challenge, but one that is so worth it.” This unique start ensures the spirit, motivation, and passion behind the program is consistently anew.
AEP is an example of the wonderful things that high schoolers can do, and the effects on the world at large that unfiltered passion can have. Our holistic approach allows us to support our students in every sense of the word. Our goals of maximizing impact and maintaining a local focus allow us to affect the most change possible. These various qualities and more make the African Education Program truly one of a kind—our unique approach is truly proving to enact uniquely positive change.