Bourke Family Foundation – Lights for Literacy will receive $22,000 to provide solar lights to middle school students and library solar systems to Zimbabwe communities.

Description of how the funds will be used:
Grant funds will be used to provide 4,000 solar lights (at $6.25 per light) to middle school students and 5 library solar systems (at $1,000 per system) in Zimbabwe, Africa.

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:
Lights for Literacy serves some of the poorest communities in Africa. In Zimbabwe, 60% of the population does not have access to electricity so the day ends when the sun sets. Once school is out, students then head home where they have chores until the sun goes down. This leaves little opportunity to read or do homework.

Governments in developing countries don’t have the means to build power systems and children need immediate solutions now.

This grant would provide 4,000 individual solar room lights for middle school students to be able to take home from school. It will also provide solar lighting panels for 5 libraries to enable the students to have access to books, internet, etc. Providing the ability to read and work at night would dramatically change a child’s life by giving them the opportunity to read and thus educate themselves out of the poverty cycle.

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming:
For children in these areas, chores at home take precedence over studies while it is still light out leaving them no time or light to study. Providing solar lights to students would give them the ability to read and study at night, thereby increasing literacy and quality of education. It would also replace dangerous kerosene lamps which are currently being used. Additionally, in these areas, the library is often the only place with access to computers and the internet, thus lighting/power is crucial.

Education:
This project directly targets improving literacy and education for students. The access to electricity/lighting has been shown to directly correlate with improvements on both test scores and graduation rates due to lighting providing extended study hours.

Sustainability:
By harnessing solar power, a renewable energy source, we are able to bring electricity to a community without having the costs of bringing power lines in. The student’s solar room lights are rechargeable and last between 4-5 years with nightly use. The library solar panels have a lifetime of 25 years.

Community Building:
The community comes together and provides the labor to install the lighting/solar panels for the libraries. This strengthens social cohesion and also provides some ownership and accountability for the work. It also provides a means for students and members of the community to study, meet, and build relationships after dark. The community schools are also actively involved with and supportive of the program.

Innovative:
By providing the gift of light to communities without electricity, children and their communities will be given the opportunity to become literate/educated.

Measurable:
Success is measured by the impact that the lights have on the student’s test scores. This is shown through progress reports from our partners (schools). It is also shown by the increasing number of students that then go on to higher education in the areas we serve.

Organization’s Mission Statement:
To facilitate and coordinate essential sustainable solutions to families who otherwise would not have basic needs met. We are committed to increasing literacy by providing solar powered lights to children where the basic need of light is scarce. By providing lights, we give children the opportunity to read and educate themselves out of the poverty cycle.

Link to the website: www.BourkeFF.org