Support a Girl
Support the education of a girl with only $1 a day! Follow her development over the years.
Empower a Mentor
The mentor creates the sisterhood of girls who learn together and support each other. Support a mentor with less than $4 a day!
Support a Site
Make a difference for a whole community. Empower 20 girls and their families.
REAL Scholarship Fund
REAL Trailblazer Ann Jensen
When REAL Trailblazer Ann Jensen taught mathematics as a Peace Corps volunteer in Ethiopia, only 10% of her 9th and 10th grade students were girls. Her most promising student, Almaz, was forced by her very poor parents to quit school and get married. Almaz begged Ann to help her, but there was nothing Ann could do to help the young girl stay in school. Ann never forgot Almaz and resolved to find a way to help girls like Almaz realize their dreams of an education.
In 2004 Ann had the good fortune to be a field supervisor to Tsehai Wodajo, then a graduate student in Social Work at Augsburg University. When in high school, Tsehai had been helped to stay in school by Eva Nordin, a Swedish volunteer in Ethiopia and, like Ann, Tsehai had resolved to help African girls complete their education. Tsehai and Ann worked together to form the structure of REAL and in 2004, they traveled to Ethiopia to explain the REAL program to a former Swedish missionary school in Nedjo, Ethiopia where Eva and Tsehai met. They recruited prospective committee members, trained the mentor, and by the fall of 2004, the first REAL site was ready to be launched. But they needed financial support.
Back in the United States Ann and Tsehai made presentations to church groups, Rotary clubs, and other organizations, so that by 2010 REAL had 9 sites in Ethiopia supporting 135 girls—an amazing accomplishment in a short time! Ann personally inspired many of our early sponsors to support a REAL girl.
Ann retired from the REAL Board in 2021, but continues to be an engaged supporter of REAL girls and frequently reminds us that the lives of girls who were unable to complete the program were significantly helped by being able to stay in school for an additional 1, 2, or 3+ years. REAL has made a real difference in the lives of hundreds of girls and young women because of Ann.
REAL Trailblazer Carla Sykora
REAL Trailblazer Carla Sykora served on the REAL Board of Directors for 9 years, 8 as Secretary, and brought her gift for connection and love to every aspect of our work. We were blessed by her presence, her enthusiastic advocacy, and her deep belief in the transformative power of education for girls and their families.
Carla and her husband Rich sponsored three girls over 17 years. Sosina T., the youngest, has just graduated from secondary school. Bizunesh Z completed college and is now married and working as a health officer in Harar, Ethiopia. Mahider B., featured on our web site, became an engineer and worked on the Ethiopian Dam Project. When she heard of Carla's death in November 2021, Mahider wrote in a letter to the Sykora family, "On one blessed day I became a REAL Girls member and I met Carla... My life changed. Because of her I became the supporter of my family, not the burden. Carla’s letter was full of love and inspiration. She was asking me about my dream and I start dreaming. I achieved my dream and became a Mechanical Engineer."
Carla's enthusiastic and moving account of her family's relationship with the girls they sponsored and her pride in their accomplishments inspired many people to support a REAL girl. Carla was a loving, generous supporter of REAL in acknowledging and thanking our supporters and friends at REAL events and could be counted on to make everybody feel welcome and needed. She is deeply missed, but her gift of joy and belief in the work of REAL lives on in Mahider, Bizunesh, Sosina and many many other young women who never met her. Carla was a blessing to all who knew her and as an inaugural member of our REAL TRAILBLAZERS, Carla will continue to brighten the future of hundreds of girls and young women.
There is a wonderful interview with Carla on the REAL website under the heading News, October 2020.
Sponsor Profile Videos
Hear from some of our sponsors on the importance of empowering Ethiopian girls.
Let’s Make A Change
Here are some ways you can donate:
2233 University Ave, W, #338
St. Paul, MN 55114
Make a tax deductible donation.
Over the Phone
It's easy to donate offline too.