Among the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, unveiled at the UN on September 25th, is  GOAL #4, one that many would argue is a “root” goal, essential to a better future.

Education has been proven to have effects on reducing poverty and violence, and improving health outcomes for mothers and children.  It has been shown to contribute to individual happiness, feelings of self-worth and resiliency. It is related to one’s ability to adapt, to be open-minded and problem-solve. And, if that’s not enough, many draw a link between education and a nation’s economic growth. Specifically it’s the quality of education. The World Bank concludes “that educational quality – particularly in assessing policies related to developing countries – is THE key issue.”

EMpower’s work with young people embraces the power of education.  Education is one of the three key pillars of youth development in which we invest, and makes up 39% of the investments to local organizations in the 15 EM countries where we work.

Our work in educating at-risk youth focuses on:

  • Improving the quality and relevance of education

  • Building in 21st century skills needed to survive, much less thrive, in EM economies and societies

  • Closing the gender gap in education, especially on secondary school completion for girls

  • Boosting Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) skills, especially for girls

  • Facilitating 2nd Chance education for those who never got to school or had to drop-out

Our work closely aligns with 2 of the targets associated with SDG #4.

  • By 2030, ensure that all girls and boys complete free, equitable and quality primary and secondary education leading to relevant and effective learning outcomes 

  • By 2030, eliminate gender disparities in education and ensure equal access to all levels of education and vocational training for the vulnerable, including persons with disabilities, indigenous peoples and children in vulnerable situations 

EMpower specifically focuses on the most hard to reach and disadvantaged young people. Around the globe, over 70 million children are not in school.  Our efforts seek to reduce and eliminate barriers to attending school with practical interventions such as subsidizing school fees or uniforms.

For youth who are out of school, our “second chance” work supports programs that provide basic numeracy and literacy through complementary or remedial education. Young people then can be mainstreamed into a school or achieve fundamental skills outside of the school setting.

In the EM countries where EMpower works, the quality of education is very uneven.  Often classrooms are overcrowded, teachers are either poorly trained or entirely absent, and the curriculum does not prepare youth for the real world. Despite their regular attendance at school, many youth lack reading, writing and math skills. To strengthen quality for each and every student, EMpower supports after-school and holiday tutoring or coaching that fills the gaps and supplements inadequate teaching quality. Some programs directly target improving teacher skills.

EMpower works with local grantee partners that use relevant, practical approaches that will prepare students for their real life situations in their specific settings, such as agricultural-focused skills in rural communities.

In preparing at-risk young people for their future in an increasingly globalized and technological world, we support programs that teach fundamental 21st century skills including computer literacy and international languages such as English. These skills are critical in enabling young people to get many jobs and to fully participate and contribute in a rapidly globalizing world.

A gender gap in education especially for post-primary education continues in many EM countries where we work.  Girls face additional barriers that limit both their access to schooling and the ability to remain in school. Girls may be kept out of school in order to help the household with chores or care of younger siblings. Fears of sexual harassment and violence, as well as beliefs that it is not important to educate girls, keep some girls—especially past the age of puberty—at home.                                                                                   

EMpower aims to level the playing field.  We support local organizations that work to reduce practical barriers to girls’ attending school by subsidizing school fees, supplies or uniforms, and residences for rural girls to attend schools outside their communities. Many of our grantee partners educate parents and families, using local campaigns and the girls taking leadership roles, to build awareness of the value of keeping daughters in school.  In local communities, EMpower partners focus on reducing the threat of violence against girls and creating safe spaces.

Across all of our work in education, EMpower encourages and shares “gender-sensitive approaches” to benefit both boys and girls.  EMpower grantee partners are building an understanding of the effects of gender-bias, and helping to overturn these limiting stereotypes, to empower both young men and young women and create more enabling environments for them.

GOING ON NOW! Citi’s e for Education Campaign 2015

October 5th – December 11th 

We are grateful to Citi for including EMpower for the 3rd year as a recipient of the funds from their e for Education Campaign. From October 5 to December 11, Citi will donate $1 for every $1million transacted on Citi Velocity and CitiFX Pulse by Institutional Investors and Corporates.


EMpower is proud to be a beneficiary of Citi’s e for Education initiative for the 3rd consecutive year. Their generosity has enabled us to expand and deepen our work, supporting 17 local organizations in 2014, and 19 in 2015. 

  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” Nelson Mandela