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Sunday, December 15, 2013

Joshua Ford: "EACEF 2.0" Report

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Dear Friends of EACEF,

A few months ago, Andrew Sugrue asked me to join the EACEF Board of Directors to help spearhead “EACEF 2.0”. Excited about the cause and the importance of EACEF’s work, I accepted. However, I knew that if I really expected to be of any assistance, I had to travel to East Africa and observe the situation on the ground before I could effectively provide advice. 

This past August, I spent two and a half weeks in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya visiting all four schools that EACEF has supported, talking with former and current EACEF partners and exploring new partnerships. A management consultant by trade, I used a case-based approach to interview headmasters, students, teachers, parents, community members and other non-profits working in the region. We spoke in depth about what we were doing right and what we needed to improve upon going forward. 

What really struck me during my trip was the innovative model that EACEF employs and executes. Instead of directing projects and resources from afar, or even setting up local offices to that end, EACEF is completely run on the notion that local people know best. EACEF as an organization strives to find trustworthy, innovative, well-respected and forward-looking individuals or organizations that can most effectively use EACEF’s funds to impact the most children in the most positive way. After identifying these special individuals and groups, the organization works to create long-term relationships based on mutual trust and cooperation. From my experience, this approach is more effective in creating sustained change and allows for low administrative costs. Due to a donor’s pledge to cover all overhead expenses, 100% of funds raised by EACEF go directly into projects in East Africa. That in itself allows for an unparalleled return on investment. And that is what makes me so excited for what is coming next. 

Moving forward, EACEF will focus on the build-out of the Shalom Junior School in Fort Portal, Uganda under the direction of Stanley Musoni. Stanley has known Andrew and EACEF for close to seven years. Each time I speak with Stanley, I am left feeling more inspired and more passionate about the work we have done there and the work we will do there in the future. We have literally built a school from the ground up. But we have barely scratched the surface. Stanley understands that what we are doing is not just building schools. We are not just taking stabs at long-term, systemic poverty. What EACEF is doing is completely changing and revolutionizing the cycle of how life works in East Africa. We aren’t only trying to get kids through primary school. We are teaching them how to work. We are teaching their parents to read. We are teaching them sound economic and personal financial principles. We are teaching them how to be healthy. We are attacking poverty at its deepest roots and in Stanley we have a partner who is not only passionate and intelligent, but hardworking and loyal to the cause. 

I’ve been on the ground, toured the school, had many strategic meetings with Stanley and also with the Board of EACEF and I can tell you, we are entering a new and exciting phase. What EACEF has done in the past is really tremendous and a testament to all those who have helped in one way or another, but where EACEF is headed is an entirely new level of impact. I am humbled and honored to be a small part of this movement and I sincerely hope you’ll join me. Thank you for believing in EACEF, our local partners, and the power of education. 

Sincerely, 

Joshua Ford 

Member, Board of Directors

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