More Than Me started in 2009 helping girls get off the street and into school by providing scholarships, free meals and supplies, and an after school program. We realized the girls were learning more after school than during class and decided to start our own school. The President of Liberia heard about our work and gave us a building. In December 2012, MTM won a million dollars through the CHASE American Giving Awards, a Facebook voting contest where the winners were announced on national TV.
We converted the building into the first tuition-free girls school, the More Than Me Academy, and opened the doors in September 2013. After successfully running the school for a year, Ebola hit and our students were in the middle of the crisis. We knew we had to help, and decided to give everything we had to fight for them. After six months on the front lines, running ambulance services and home healthcare teams, and taking in Ebola orphans, MTM was recognized as a TIME Person of the Year.
After Ebola, we reopened our school in March 2015, but we knew we had to do more. Our girls will never be safe, they will never be able to truly thrive, until Liberia does.
The first step to rebuilding Liberia is education for all. A generation of students lost out on an education during the civil war, and schools were closed for most of the last academic year due to Ebola. We must act now to stop another generation losing out on an education.
The Minister of Education asked us to partner to rebuild the education infrastructure starting with 30 government schools across Liberia. Using what we've learned at the More Than Me Academy, we will focus on technology, teacher training, health and child protection as our pillars and will impact 30,000 children. And that is just the beginning!
Liberia, West Africa has a population of about 4 million people. The official language is English - the name Liberia derives from "Liberty" meaning freedom. Liberia's current president (and Nobel Laureate) Ellen Johnson Sirleaf is the first female head of state in Africa! A 14-year brutal civil war left the country in shambles, including destroying over 80% of its schools. The recent Ebola epidemic further weakened Liberia's infrastructure.
Liberia's education system is in a state of emergency.
According to GirlUp, more than 40% of Liberian girls ages 10-14 have never gone to school. Unfortunately, young girls fall victim to the most frequently reported crime in Liberia, rape. But investing in girls has huge rewards:
When a girl in the developing world receives 7 or more years of education, she marries 4 years later and has 2.2 fewer children.
An extra year of primary school boosts girls' eventual wages by 10 to 20 percent. An extra year of secondary school: 15 to 25 percent.
When women and girls earn income, they reinvest 90 percent of it into their families, as compared to only 30 to 40 percent for a man.