Photo Credit Jan Garrison
For work with Christel House
November 19, 2019

Culver Girls Academy received its first National Coalition of Girls’ Schools grant this fall, thanks to the work of four sophomores who spent one frantic week completing the application by it deadline date.

The Mouton Student Global Citizenship Grant of $1,000 will be used by the Leadership Committee for Africa to purchase supplies for its next trip to Christel House in Cape Town, South Africa. As part of the 2021 Global Pathways Spring program, the LCA group will run leadership training sessions for the girls at the school.

Brianna Small (Culver), Maya Jyothinagaram (Forsyth, Illinois), Katherine Beeson (Culver), and Maddy (Alexandria) Taylor (Valparaiso, Indiana), who wrote the grant, said the funds will actually travel with the group. Once in Cape Town, they will purchase the items they need from local businesses. That way, they will not only be instructing the students on leadership techniques, they will also be stimulating the local economy as well.

The NCGS grant is named after the organization’s founder, Meg Moulton. NCGS is celebrating its 25th year. This is the first time Culver Girls Academy has received the grant, which is intended to be used by students to generate educational opportunities for underserved girls in developing countries.

Angie Strobel ’98, who is one of the LCA’s sponsors, said there was some question whether LCA could even apply for the grant. Founded in 2004 by members of CGA, the group started accepting boys into the program in recent years. While that number is small, less than five percent of the membership, LCA leaders were concerned it may eliminate them from the grant process.

But NCGS determined that since the organization had been founded by girls, and the executive committee is made up of girls, LCA could still apply for the grant. However, “we didn’t hear back until one day before the grant application deadline,” she said.

NCGS gave LCA a one-week extension. That’s when the four sophomores, all members of the LCA executive committee, got to work. Setting up a Google document that they could share, they wrote the grant over breakfast, lunch, and dinner meetings. They even took advantage of one weather hold, which restricts students from going outside during severe thunderstorms, to do some additional work while in the Lay Dining Hall.

LCA members with Christel House students in 2016.

“We eventually got everything done except for one word,” Small said as the others laughed. They all finally agreed on the right word, polished the application one final time, and Strobel submitted it.

Strobel said sitting in on some of the meetings was an enjoyable experience. “They’re just a fun group to be around,” she said.

NCGS didn’t waste any time in making its decision, she added, because LCA heard back in less than a month that they had been awarded the Moulton grant. Small, Jyothinagaram, Beeson, and Taylor will be juniors when they go on the trip. The 2020 LCA trip will be traveling to Tanzania to work with the School of St. Jude in the Arusha District. Evan Heckman ’06 introduced LCA to the school.

Until the trip in 2021, the girls will be planning the workshops the LCA group leaders will present at Christel House. The sessions will be interactive. The girls will be supported by the leadership team and challenge course supervisor Kim Bowman. Each set of group leaders will be working with 15 to 20 girls.

“The Christel House staff is great to work with,” Strobel explained. “There’s a level of trust there. They just let our girls take over.”

There is also the possibility the girls may make a presentation on the project at the NCGS conference in Philadelphia in June, she added.

Founded in 2004, the Leadership Committee for Africa involves nearly 100 students. The group has worked to promote the health, welfare, education, and advancement of women and children in Africa. LCA has been traveling to South Africa since 2006.

The team has been traveling to Christel House every other year. Their other projects have included the School of St. Jude, the Amani Children’s Foundation, New Life Homes in Kenya, and ECHO (Educational Concerns for Hunger Organizations).

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Posted in Alumni Culver Academies Leadership Student Life
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