The Past 20 Years: A Brief Overview of AfricAid’s History
This year we have been overjoyed to celebrate AfricAid’s 20th anniversary! For two decades we have been dedicated to promoting education, mentorship, leadership development, and community transformation- all through empowering secondary school girls in Tanzania. A lot has happened over these past 20 years, all of which started with a family trip to Tanzania.
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In 1996, 11-year-old Ashley Shuyler and her family took a trip to Tanzania that would change their lives. On that trip, she met children her age who did not have the opportunity to go to school. She learned that girls in particular face significant roadblocks to completing (or even beginning) their education and the effects this has on the wider community. After returning home, Ashley decided that she needed to take action to address this issue.
5 years later (2001), when Ashley was 16, she founded AfricAid. Mere months later, Ashley won the Barron Prize for Young Heroes which helped put AfricAid on the map.
In 2004, AfricAid partnered with Losinoni, a rural Maasai village. Over time, AfricAid provided funding for the construction of several classrooms and a much-needed school latrine facility. Most recently, AfricAid helped fund the installation of a solar power project, giving students and teachers electricity at the school for the very first time.
In 2007, The KidHaven Press published Young Heroes: Ashley Shuyler, Founder of AfricAid. This was one of its continuing series of books for younger readers intended to “examine the lives of remarkable and heroic young people.” Recounting the history of Ashley’s work with AfricAid, this inspiring book emphasizes the difference that young people can make in the lives of others, and how youth of all ages can get involved with issues they care about.
In its early years, AfricAid focused on providing scholarships and direct support to Tanzanian schools. Then, in 2010, AfricAid adopted a more strategic approach to girls’ education with the goal of more holistically addressing the structural barriers facing even the most academically accomplished young women. This new approach, ultimately resulting in the Kisa Project, reflected the belief that young women, in particular those who have achieved entrance to upper secondary school, have incredible potential to become future leaders and catalysts for change in their communities.
In 2011, Ashley Schuyler was awarded the Denver Business Journal’s Forty under 40 award, bringing more of a spotlight to AfricAid and its work. A few short years later, on November 17, 2014, Denver Mayor Michael Hancock declared the day “Denver-Tanzania Friendship Day” as a thank-you for all the work done by AfricAid.
In 2017, AfricAid launched the Binti Shupavu program in nine Partner Schools, recruiting 810 girls to join. This program was created with the intention of focusing on younger girls who are less likely to continue onto tertiary education, to equip them with the skills needed to pave a path for themselves and dictate their own futures. As of 2020, Binti Shupavu is active in 22 partner schools, with more than 4,500 Scholars currently enrolled.
In 2021, AfricAid has helped support more than 7,000 girls through our sister organization, GLAMI (Girls Livelihood and Mentorship Initiative, formerly AfricAid TZ). We’re so grateful for the incredible community of supporters that has helped make AfricAid’s work a huge success over the past two decades- we can’t wait to see what the future holds!
To hear more about what AfricAid’s community has to say about the organization’s work and their hopes for our future, check out our 20th Anniversary YouTube series!