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In 2009, Brett Weiss decides he wants to volunteer in Kenya. A teacher in high school Economics, US History, and International Relations, he has a particular interest in experiencing immersion in a community where he will learn firsthand about the difficulties of the aftermath of colonialism. Determined to ask questions and listen, he makes his first trip to Dago, a small village in Southwestern Kenya. As a teacher, his curiosity is riveted on the children and the education system. What he learns in Dago shakes his world and opens his eyes to the void that is eroding the potential success of the next generation.

Dago is the total definition of extreme poverty in our world.  Average family income of less than $2/day; no electricity of plumbing; little to no medical care; a great deal of food insecurity; live in tiny mud huts and AIDS has devastated this part of Africa.

Brett returns to the US quite moved by his experience in Kenya, realizing that many of the children he met would never be able to get an education and escape abject poverty. This is the impetus for him to start the Weiss Scholarship Foundation (WSF), in memory of his parents. The goal of the foundation is to empower as many Kenyan children each year with the gift of education, as the funds available make possible.

Since 2012 WSF has awarded 70 full four year high school scholarships in a village where few have ever gone to high school.  Twenty-four have graduated thus far (the rest are still in high school).  Nine students have made it to University and the rest are being placed in vocational programs.  WSF has also created a sewing school, a very valuable skill to have in Kenya.

This has totally changed this village of 3,000 people.  Now there is real HOPE that the future will be better.  A side benefit of the foundation is it has doubled the number of children staying in school through 8th grade and the scores on the exam all 8th graders take (KCPE) that is used to choose our students, have more than doubled since the foundation began.

In Kenya life is tough for all children but brutal for girls.  The girls tend to score 10 – 20% lower than the boys on the exam, but to no fault of their own.  We know if we give girls a chance, they will do just as well, if not better, than the boys, but they must get the chance.  Thus, a firm rule of our foundation is that all of our money is equally divided between girls and boys (35/35).

Brett has written a book about his trips to Kenya and the foundation called, “Just Give Them A Hug…And The Rest Will Be Easy”.  He shares the stories of what he has learned from the wonderful people of Kenya and how he began the foundation.

WSF is always looking for people to support our work.  The more donations we get, the more children we can help.  To GIVE: www.weissscholarshipfoundation.org  Venmo: @weisssf  Cash App: $weisssf   Give whatever amount you are able.  $3,500 (or $3/day) pays for all of the costs of these boarding high schools.

We believe we can create a world where every child gets a great education!!

Your donation may be tax deductible.  Weiss Scholarship Foundation is a registered 501(c)3

Check out our website: www.weissscholarshipfoundation.org

Check out stories we have had in the media:

WGN TV News: https://wgntv.com/news/chicagos-very-own/trip-to-africa-sparks-mans-passion-to-educate-children-in-kenya/

Links to other stories in the media: https://weissscholarshipfoundation.org/news/

 


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1 COMMENT

  1. Thank you very much to Scene Chicago for sharing the story of our work to empower children in Kenya with the gift of education. We believe we can create a world where every child gets a great education. Please help us in any way you can to give real HOPE to these children, who are among the poorest children on the planet. Please give any amount you can and, if you want to support a student all on your own for all four years of high school, that is only $3,500. You can give at our website (www.weissscholarshipfoundation.org); Venmo: @weisssf Cash App: $weisssf Be well and stay healthy!!

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