Everyone has potential. Not everyone has the opportunity to tap that potential.
In 2010, a group of educators, who had volunteered outside of Moshi, Tanzania, and several globally-minded colleagues formed EdPowerment to provide A WAY BACK (to learning) and A WAY FORWARD (in life) for those abandoned by formal systems in the Kilimanjaro region of Tanzania. Having encountered the lack of opportunity for these students, EdPowerment’s founding team resolved to change their possibilities.
In 2009 Moira Madonia, then a U.S. high school educator, ventured to Tanzania as part of a volunteer program. There she taught English in a tiny village community center for post-primary youth who no longer attended formal school. These young teens were typical in many ways, but for those eager to learn, the future held little promise.
When Moira returned home and resumed her teaching career, she collaborated with Jillian Swinford and Kerri Gilbert, fellow educators who had volunteered at Kilimahewa in 2008. In 2010, the three joined forces to form EdPowerment, a 501c-3 non-profit. The organization's mission was to develop educational paths for these and other vulnerable teens and young adults in this area of Tanzania.
Working with with GraceAnna Lyimo (Mama Grace), who founded the Kilimahewa Women and Orphans Center for Education (KIWOCE) on her family’s property in 2007, EdPowerment began a three-pronged approach to its mission: (1) A long-term sponsorship program to enable the more academically gifted and motivated students to re-enter and study in the formal system through the highest level they could achieve (2) Development of the Kilimahewa Center for Education (KIWOCE) to teach academics and skills to those underserved by the formal system or lacking in family support and (3) An advocacy program, Autism Connects Tanzania (ACT), for the autistic and otherwise intellectually disabled to secure their rightful place in the Tanzanian educational system and society.
EdPowerment now is focusing on direct educational intervention that enables otherwise forgotten young people to achieve their potential in life.
We have relaunched our Discovery Scholarship Program to extend higher education opportunities to exceptional students in some of the areas most deprived villages and to college or university students facing circumstances that would otherwise have derailed their education. Meanwhile, we continue to support and mentor our college and university students from Tomorrow's Scholar-Leader Sponsorship program. THRIVE, our skills-building programs, is undergoing a make-over, while we introduce an Early Discovery Program for talented, but neglected primary students.
As EdPowerment moves forward, our past programs continue to change young lives for the better. In 2021 the KIWOCE Open School transitioned to a private formal secondary school, the Kilimahewa Modern Secondary School. Using EdPowerment's classroom and infrastructure investment, it continues to provide secondary school education fully independent of EdPowerment.
Similarly Connects Autism Tanzania (formerly Autism Connects Tanzania (ACT)) now operates independently of EdPowerment. Our funding and program guidance from 2010-2020 provided the basis for this organization's enduring work for those with special needs and cognitive disabilities, especially autism. Today CAT operates its own Youth Center and other projects that serve this population.
EdPowerment’s former Operations and Finance Manager died tragically in May 2018. He was our linchpin, handling a multitude of tasks from financial reporting to supervising and mentoring our sponsored students. Tom's vocational degrees prepared him to be our amazing van driver, visiting student families whatever the terrain. However, his motivation took him much further. He learned computer skills (which he shared in the classroom at KIWOCE), financial accounting, and the particulars of the Tanzanian school system. His dependability, smile and kindness made him a source of stability and guidance for our students.