Tammy Tibbetts believes the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower girls. Through a unique educational sponsorship program, She’s the First is transforming girls' lives around the world by giving them the chance to succeed in ways they never imagined were possible.
“My "aha" moment was when I successfully launched DonateMyDress.org, to help girls find prom dresses; at the same time, I was realizing a more dire need: 40 million girls around the world don't have the chance to go to school.”
What are you the first to do? That's Tammy Tibbetts' simple question for the girls of the world. And while she hopes to hear from girls who become the first doctors in their village, or the first female president of their country, her organization She's the First supports girls in the developing world accomplish something more basic: to become the first in their family to graduate from high school.
Tibbetts founded She’s the First on the hunch that education is key to lifting girls in the developing world out of poverty. Her not-for-profit funds girls' education by partnering with NGOs with educational sponsorship programs in impoverished countries. She's the First encourages people—especially Millennials—to creatively fundraise within their social networks. Across the US, She's the First has campus chapters, sports teams, friends, and individuals are barbecuing, baking, running and dancing to raise money. Last year, in just one week, almost $23,000 was raised by people selling tie-died cupcakes.
Statistically, girls face great disadvantages. One in four girls in the developing world is not in school, and of the 130 million uneducated youth worldwide, 70% are girls. Research consistently shows that educating girls and enabling their participation in the workforce substantially increases a country’s GDP. And in a world where the leading cause of death for girls 15 -19 is pregnancy, there is a positive connection between educating girls and lowering maternal mortality rates, delaying childbirth and family size, and improving hygiene to slow the spread of disease.
For sponsors, the organization provides community, leadership opportunities, and a sense of global citizenship. It also provides a chance to see impact. Donors can correspond with, or even visit sponsored students. It’s one thing to send a check in the mail; it’s another to see how your money helped a child succeed. Donors can get photos, or reports cards from the girls they help, but it's letters like this one, from a 12-year-old Nepalese girl, that show the power of She's the First: “My name is Hima. I read in 2 class. My mom breaks rock. You are my best friend.”