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COVID-19 Impact on Education: Reaping the Harvest of Capacity Building at the Grassroots

By Laura Baerwolf, Director of Operations, Mona Foundation

The year 2020 will forever be associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. It brought the world to a halt in a matter of months, changed the way we live, work and play, and made clear that what impacts one impacts all.  As of this writing, more than 4.4 million people have lost their lives to COVID-19, millions more have been pushed into extreme poverty, and millions of students are without access to continuing education.

“What started as a public health catastrophe became an economic crisis, a food crisis, a housing crisis, and an educational crisis … any of the gains made in the past 25 years across development indicators poverty, health, equality, and education — have been lost.”

— Melinda Gates, Co-chair, Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation

For Mona Foundation, a nonprofit that supports grassroots educational programs in economically disadvantaged communities around the world, 2020 began with great uncertainty and concern for the staff, students, and families of our partner organizations, many of which are based in areas where social distancing is impossible and access to healthcare is non-existent. But as we began to witness their resilience in mobilizing to face a devastating pandemic and their indomitable resolve to contribute to the social good, we were also uplifted, moved, and inspired. Our long-term partnerships, focused on building the capacity of local communities through the twin engines of education and gender equality, had prepared them to create all that was needed to sustain their trajectory towards a better future. Read More

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Alliance for Children Everywhere: ACE is Truly an Alliance for Children Everywhere

By Joanne Lu

FaithWorks classroom

FaithWorks classroom. Photo credit: Alliance for Children Everywhere.

The story of Alliance for Children Everywhere (ACE) is one of evolution, learning,  and adaptation. The organization as it exists today barely resembles the one that Virginia “Jennie” Woods founded in Arizona more than five decades ago. Yet, at the heart of it, ACE has always been – and always will be – a champion for the world’s most vulnerable children.

In 1969, Jennie Woods was moved to act when she saw a need for emergency rescue and childcare for orphaned and vulnerable children on Apache and Navajo reservations in Arizona. At the time, institutional care (e.g. orphanages, children’s homes, etc.) was the prevailing model for orphan care, so that’s what Jennie and her team provided. Out of that response, ACE was born.

Eventually, their faith-based ministry expanded to Guatemala and Peru. But by then, things had begun to shift within ACE. They started to lean more on local community leaders to implement and guide their programming. Read More


Atul Tandon, Opportunity International

Atul Tandon Went From the Streets of Delhi to Wall Street. Now He’s a Banker for the Poor.

By Tyler LePard

Atul Tandon

Photo Credit: Opportunity International

There are moments in your life that cause you to reassess everything. They offer a chance to step away from your daily routine, stop thinking about your never-ending To Do list, and ponder the big question of what you really want to do with your life.

Atul Tandon was 39-years-old and running one of the world’s largest international banking efforts when he was faced with news of a serious health crisis. He had grown up on the streets of Delhi and ended up on Wall Street. But this moment caused him to pause and ask himself what would bring him the most joy. His answer? Help people have a better life. Atul decided he wanted to use the skills he learned through his career in financial services—how to see and unlock the potential in each one of us—to help people thrive, especially the ones who have been left out, like the people he grew up with.

A major career shift from international banking to humanitarian work wasn’t a hard decision for Atul. The hard part was to change his thinking around what counts as success. “It’s hard to go from an organizational culture and a career focused on the bottom line to a career and focus of life that was focused on people. It’s far more than the bottom line.” Atul shifted his thinking from the return on investment on dollars to matters of both the head and the heart. Read More

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PRESS RELEASE: Oxfam Reaction to Johnson & Johnson Vaccine Submission for FDA Approval

In response to Johnson & Johnson (JNJ)’s submission of their COVID-19 vaccine for emergency approval from the US Food & Drug Administration, Niko Lusiani, Senior Advisor with Oxfam America, made the following statement:

“Scientists have yet again delivered hope in the war against the coronavirus. As a single-dose and lower-cost vaccine, the JNJ vaccine could deliver the necessary boost the world needs to save lives and rebuild our economy.

“Now it’s time for executives and policy makers to deliver a people’s vaccine that is mass produced around the world to ensure access to the greatest number of people in the shortest amount of time. JNJ can only produce the vaccine for less than 13 percent of the global population by the end of the year. Read More

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