Five Inspiring Educational Charities & What They Can Teach Us

Charity is all about building a better world, and what better way to do that than to equip the youngest generations with the skills and resources to fulfill their potential? Educational charities pursue that exact goal, looking to ensure that the future for our children remains bright even in the face of mounting global challenges.

In this piece, we’re going to look at five educational charities that are doing inspiring work, and consider what we can learn from them when it comes to improving educational systems.

1. Scholarship America

Stemming from a plan called ‘Dollars for Scholars’ created by Dr. Irving Fradkin in 1958, a simple scheme to crowd-source college funding grew into Scholarship America, a massive nonprofit educational support program that has contributed nearly $4 billion to millions of students throughout the United States.

Scholarship America has a mission of making further education an option for anyone and everyone, and alongside its funding, it also helps to establish policies and programs that help disadvantaged students navigate the educational obstacles they so commonly face.

What it can teach us

That the education path isn’t as simple as it once was, and we need to do more to address this problem. Work must be done to restore the link between getting a degree and finding meaningful work, for the benefit of everyone.

2. ProLiteracy

ProLiteracy maintains an extensive national network across the United States that does great work promoting adult literacy, with the ultimate goal of making sure that every adult has the option of furthering their literacy in order to better pursue their ambitions.

The organization was founded by Dr. Frank C. Laubach in 1930 when he recognized that a lack of literacy was adding to the poor living conditions  among those he was living near as a missionary, and within the next 17 years he had taken its valuable work to over 105 countries.

What it can teach us

That standard assessment systems are not well suited to helping beginners learn, and room must be made (and resources found) for more personalized tutoring. One-size-fits-all methods often do more harm than good.

3. Build Africa

40 years old this year, Build Africa began operating as International Christian Relief in 1978 in the wake of the Vietnam War, helping refugees in Thailand with sanitation and education. After building up experience in the East Africa region over the next two decades, it started focusing strictly on sustainable projects in that area.

The name change in 2007 to Build Africa finally made that focus clear, and the goal of the organization became set: work with parents and teachers across Kenya and Uganda to make sure that future generations get the education and development opportunities they will need to thrive.

What it can teach us

That the child sponsorship model has flaws, and funding is better provided for generalized improvements that can drive meaningful social change. Build Africa runs a ‘child ambassador’ scheme that retains the link to an individual, but has them report on behalf of their community.

4. Children International

Founded as Holy Land Christian Mission all the way back in 1936, Children International began as nothing more than a food basket program, but expanded its scope over time. In 1989, it introduced its new name to better reflect its refined mission: sponsoring children to help them emerge from poverty and excel in life.

By 1999, the Children International team had noticed that many of the sponsored teens in the 14-19 age range had emotional and physical needs that weren’t being met, so they launched a broader youth program complete with life skill training and career counseling (among other things).

What it can teach us

That amazing things can come from humble beginnings. The history of Children International is full of expansions that would have seemed unthinkable back in 1936. Even when we feel that our efforts are useless, we must remember that from a small seed, a mighty oak may grow.

5. Teach For America

One of the biggest problems facing educational charities has always been a lack of quality educators, and the concept being Teach For America was a neat one: fund the recruitment of top college graduates to contribute at schools in at-risk areas. Founder Wendy Kopp started the program in 1989, by assembling 100 student recruiters, and launched the scheme the following year with 489 high-performing teachers.

The success of Teach For America was such that the federal government made it one of the original charter programs of its AmeriCorps scheme, and by today, its teachers have helped over 45,000 students fulfill their potential.

What it can teach us

That the fight for educational equality transcends simple monetary matters and must be addressed at a societal level, but building supportive networks equips young people facing challenges to transform sources of suffering into sources of teaching and emerge stronger.

Whatever you’re looking to achieve in the world of education, these inspiring charities have a lot to teach us about how real change can be brought about through supporting learning — for children and adults, and individuals and communities. Let’s keep looking for ways to deliver brighter prospects for future generations.

Kayleigh Alexandra is a content writer for and Micro Startups — a site that donates all of its web revenue to charities supporting startups, entrepreneurs, and other worthy causes. Check out the blog for your latest dose of growth hacking news. Follow us on Twitter @getmicrostarted.