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Turning High School ‘Drop Outs’ Into ‘Global Drop-Ins’


For too many girls, the basic human right
to education is denied. In countries across the world, crippling poverty, long distances to school, child labor requirements and social norms promoting gender inequality prevent girls from learning. In response to this troubling reality, the United Nations Girls’ Education Initiative (UNGEI), a partnership of organizations dedicated to promoting girls’ education, was launched in 2000 at the World Education Forum in Dakar by then UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

In the U.S., 25% of girls overall drop out of high school each year; 40% of African American girls drop out; and in Ethiopia, 82% of Ethiopian women over the age 15 are illiterate. 15-year-old Helen Kassa is making history as a young African American girl who is leading her own global initiative for innovation in education for girls worldwide.


SAN FRANCISCO, CA – Selected to lead as part of Global Youth Service Day (GYSD) (April 11-12, 2014), 15-year-old Bay Area marvel Helen Kassa – an emerging social entrepreneur – wants to stem the increasing high school dropout rate for girls in the United States, while getting girls into schools around the world. She is launching a campaign to raise $50,000 to fund a high school dropout prevention project here in the U.S. and to increase access to education in Ethiopia as the first stop in her global initiative to increase access to education opportunities for girls worldwide. Helen wants to turn ‘high school drop-outs’ and ‘left-outs’ into ‘global drop-ins.’

As founder of a foundation for education access, Helen established Girls Lead Forward, a program that is intended to provide incentives for girls to stay in school in the USA by utilizing their life experiences and their work in global volunteerism of helping girls worldwide gain access to education as credits toward graduation.  Helen is asking the public to support her efforts through donations, grants and sponsorships because as she stated, “when girls lead forward, the world moves forward.”

When addressing gender inequality, a November 2013 article in The Economist concluded that “gender inequality, in Africa in particular, is a complex problem-and one which will need several different policy responses if the United Nation’s goal to eliminate gender disparity in education at all levels by 2015 is ever to be reached.”

Helen says, “Innovation is needed to create change because in America, education is a right that should not be squandered when a student elects to ‘drop-out’ or engage in chronic absenteeism, while in many other parts of the world, access to education is a privilege denied to those who desperately want to engage.”

“Girls Lead Forward is the perfect example of youth leading service and education advancement,” states Winston Ashby, CEO and founder of the Positive Alternative Recreation Teambuilding Impact (PART I) Program and San Francisco Bay Area coordinator for the Global Youth Service Day Recognition event of Youth Service America (YSA).

In June 2014, the African American teen will lead a team of girls from the San Francisco Bay Area in a project called Leadership Journey for Change to Ethiopia to contribute to the community of girls seeking access to education worldwide.

“There are complex issues around the alarming rate of high school dropouts in the USA, but many students drop out they don’t find a place in the school system,” states Dr. Raye Mitchell, the project advisor and a noted award winning humanitarian, author, TV producer and founder of The G.U.R.L.S. Lead Global Leadership Program. Dr. Mitchell adds, “However, by connecting the girls in the USA with a purpose and vision for global change, they have a new incentive to finish high school and appreciate the value of education. We want their life experiences in global volunteerism to count toward high school graduation credits.”

About Helen Kassa/Girls Lead Forward and The Leadership Journey for Change 2014:

Sofie Dawed, Jazmyne Woffard-Jones, Helen Kassa, and Vanessa Smith, of the San Francisco Bay Area, started the leadership project Girls Lead Forward and The Leadership Journey for Change, which is focused on increasing gender equality, access to educational opportunity, and global volunteerism by achieving global vision that has local impact. Helen Kassa has been involved in humanitarian and community services since she was eight-years-old, when she founded a program focused on increasing access to education for kids worldwide. She has been acknowledged for her contributions by United States Congressman Michael Honda, United States Congresswoman Barbara Lee and the Ambassador of Ethiopia, Zerihun Retta.

About the New Reality Foundation, Inc./ G.U.R.L.S. Lead Global Leadership Program:

G.U.R.L.S. Lead, a Global Leadership Program (formerly known as G.U.R.L.S. Rock), is a global leadership-training initiative of The New Reality Foundation, a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization and fiscal sponsor for Helen’s foundation Giving Hope to Kids Like Me and trains the next generation of innovators, and global leaders. “G.U.R.L.S.” stands for growth, unity, respect, leadership, and success. To learn more about getting connected to Leadership Journey for Change and G.U.R.L.S. Lead, visit gurlslead.org and thembaseries.org.

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