Amy and Stu McLaren’s mission began simply.
When the then-engaged couple planned a last-minute holiday trip to El Salvador in 2006, they decided to raise money and collect supplies for a school. They raised $17,000 to buy school supplies and that experience convinced them to create Village Impact.
Since then, the organization has launched 12 schools in Kenya. It’s become the McClarens’ mission to provide high-quality education in an impoverished area and help children unlock their potential and live full, productive lives. The organization is working to open two more schools.
Village Impact wouldn’t be able to make that happen without support from donors like LadyBoss® founders Brandon and Kaelin Poulin, says Carey Leader, operations manager.
“That generous support helps us achieve long-term change for children, families, and communities,” Leader says.
A Daunting Task
The United Nations has named education one of its 17 Global Goals to end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for all. It’s a big challenge, especially since 258 million children and youth don’t go to school and more than half of them live in Africa.
In Kenya, there’s an acute need for school buildings. In most areas, there are either no schools or poor, make-shift buildings that are inhabitable during the rainy season and dangerously close to collapse.
Village Impact estimates nearly 4,000 primary and nearly 65,000 secondary school-age children are unable to attend school in the areas it serves. The organization partners with vulnerable communities to not only build schools and classrooms, but also to equip them with essentials like desks, chalkboards, science labs, and libraries.
But the work doesn’t stop there. Village Impact also helps provide latrines, clean water, handwashing stations, electricity, kitchens, and school gardens. And, the organization provides housing for teachers. Once the schools are finished, they are community-owned and government-supported.
But Village Impact isn’t finished after the schools open. The organization believes good teachers and principals make the difference to ensure student success.
That’s why donations also pay for continuing education for school staff to help them improve their teaching skills and ensure better academic performance for their students.
Support from LadyBoss helped Village Impact open the Ndatho Hope Primary School in 2017. The school serves 350 students.
A Giving Heart
Since launching LadyBoss in 2014, the Poulins have donated more than $500,000 to a variety of charities, many of which like Village Impact focuses on helping women and children. Their charitable giving includes donations to:
- Unity 4 Orphans, a charitable organization established to raise awareness, unite communities, and mobilize people towards creatively and tangibly investing in the lives of abandoned and neglected children.
- Feed NM Kids collects donations of nutritious snack items to provide to children in need with the end goal of ending childhood hunger in New Mexico.
- Habitat for Humanity, a nonprofit organization that helps families build and improve places to call home because it believes affordable housing plays a critical role in strong and stable communities.
- Make-A-Wish New Mexico, which has granted the wishes of critically-ill children for the past 30 years.
- Operation Smile, which provides safe surgery solutions to treat children around the world with cleft lip and cleft palate.
- Special Olympics New Mexico, which serves child and adult athletes with intellectual disabilities by providing year-round sports training and athletic competition in 12 Olympic-type sports.
“The work Village Impact is doing is truly inspiring and we’re happy to play a small role in the organization’s success,” Brandon Poulin says. “We believe every child deserves the chance to go to school and strive for a brighter future.”
Supporting Village Impact and its work creates a lifelong, continuing gift that will help children for generations, Leader says.
“I can’t stress enough how important it is to have the continued support of people like Kaelin and Brandon,” she says. “Entrepreneurs like them understand the power of how you can build something from nothing and become successful.”
Want to help?
You can make a one-time or monthly donation to help Village Impact help children learn, lead, and thrive.