She’s the First

Help send a girl in the developing world to school


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About the project Edit

By unlocking the power of your social networks and creatively fundraising for her sponsorship, you can change her life forever.

Our Mission

She’s the First is a not-for-profit that sponsors girls’ education in the developing world, helping them be the first in their families to graduate. In the process, She’s the First fosters leadership and global awareness in young Americans, by inspiring them to lead creative fundraisers and correspond with sponsored students. Our efforts shape a rising generation of well-educated global leaders, future philanthropists, and cross-cultural communicators.

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Get the Facts

“First, I think girls’ education may be the single most cost-effective kind of aid work. It’s cheap, it opens minds, it gives girls new career opportunities and ways to generate cash, it leads them to have fewer children and invest more in those children, and it tends to bring women from the shadows into the formal economy and society.”

- Nicholas Kristof, Pultizer-Prize winning humanitarian journalist of The New York Times and co-author of Half the Sky

What about the boys? People ask us all the time why our campaign focuses only on girls.

While there are many equally deserving boys around the world in dire need of an education, we’ve chosen to focus our efforts on girls, since statistically, they’ve faced greater disadvantages. Only one in every five girls in the developing world finish primary school*, and only one out of every three countries (37 percent) has as many girls as boys in secondary schools*. In the countries where we work, the rate of enrollment for girls in secondary school is only 33 percent*. That’s only one in three female students! Yet, less than two cents of every development dollar goes to girls.

Educating girls isn’t just about equality – it’s about the economy. Research consistently shows that educating girls and enabling their participation in the workforce substantially increases a country’s GDP, or economic output. An extra year of primary school for girls means they can earn 10 to 20 percent more, on average. Girls with secondary education have an even bigger return of 18% percent return in future wages, as compared to 14 percent for boys.*

Plus, there is a positive connection between educating girls and lowering maternal mortality rates, delaying childbirth and family size, and improving hygiene to slow the spread of disease. Girls who are educated are, in the long run, likely to marry later, bear fewer children, educate their own children, and be less vulnerable to sexual abuse and coerced sex (and therefore less likely to be infected by sexually transmitted diseases)*.

We can transform a girl’s life if we help her be the first to reach her high school graduation, changing the trajectory of her entire life.

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What was the triggering factor of this project? Edit

She’s the First was an idea sparked in a 23-year-old’s mind two years after she graduated college with a journalism degree and moved from suburban New Jersey to New York City. Tammy Tibbetts was a prom website editor by day, and by night, she volunteered as director of a foundation that supported children’s basic needs and education in Liberia. When she launched, a directory of organizations that collected and distributed prom dresses to girls in need, she wondered why there wasn’t a directory of school programs for girls in the developing world. If there was, awareness for education could be raised so girls all over the globe would have the chance to become the first woman presidents of their countries, the first doctors of their villages, or even the first in their families to graduate. It was this line of thought that inspired the name “She’s the First” in March 2009. She wasn’t sure what the next steps would be, but she hurried to the computer to purchase the domain

She’s the First stayed in the incubator until May of 2009, when Tammy read an article in an African newspaper that irked her: “Liberia: Teenage Motherhood Alarming.” The article praised a church campaign to deter teen pregnancy in Liberia. It was called “No Marriage, No Baby,” and while it had good intentions, it didn’t address the real reasons why young women often got pregnant: a lack of education and sometimes rape. She posted the link to her Facebook wall in frustration and, unexpectedly, received a message from college student Christen Brandt, whom she’d only met once, two years earlier, at an awards ceremony in New York City.

Christen expressed her own frustration at the article. So after countless Facebook messages, emails, and phone calls, Tammy hopped on a bus to DC to meet Christen, and they solidified their vision. In August, they assembled a group of friends, all under age 25, in Tammy’s sweltering hot New York City apartment, and over pizza and soda, hashed out the mission statement and plans for the PSA video that would launch

On the heels of New York Times writer Nicholas Kristof’s book Half the Sky, She’s the First became part of the movement that believes “the best way to fight poverty and extremism is to educate and empower women and girls.” She’s the First launched in November 2009, on the belief that money could affordably be raised for girls’ education through the creativity of young people.

What is the business model of this project? Edit


100% of your donation will directly sponsor a girl in primary or secondary school at one of our eight partner programs in developing world countries. You can choose where or ask us to do so.

100% of your donations to our partner organizations goes to those programs you indicate. She’s the First fundraises separately for overhead and administrative costs of our not-for-profit.

• Transparency: For a full breakdown of tuition costs, see our Directory You can trace your impact, dollar for dollar!

• Timing: Within one month, you’ll receive notification of the girl you’re supporting. (Partial sponsorships and sponsorships in conflict areas may take longer.)

• Tax Receipts: All donations are 100% tax-deductible. Receipts are mailed March 1, June 1, Sept 1, Dec 1.

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