In 2010, Barry Hoffner’s love for travel took him to Timbuktu for a music festival. While there, he spent time in some of the nearby villages and was taken aback by the staggering illiteracy rates in these under served areas, in some cases as high as ninety percent. When he returned home to Marin County, he founded Caravan to Class (www.caravantoclass.org) with the goal of rebuilding the educational infrastructure to the villages around Timbuktu, Mali and Sub-Sahara, Africa. This US-based organization partners with local non-governmental organizations (NGO) to reverse the injustice of illiteracy, one village at a time. Caravan to Class’ programs provide education to 1,000 students annually. They also organize and fund the teachers, books, school uniforms, food, and infrastructure such as classrooms, libraries, canteens and latrines in these villages.
Hoffner’s Caravan to Class recently received an opening grant of $5,000 to help underwrite the building of two new schools from The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org). The Fund is an organization rooted in the Jewish tradition of tikkun olam (repairing the world) and offers financial support and mentorship to small, effective initiatives in Israel and the U.S.
“Barry’s decision to address the injustices he saw while visiting the region is what motivated the Good People Fund to support Caravan to Class.” says Naomi Eisenberger, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Good People Fund. Eisenberger will be meeting with Hoffner and other grantees in the Bay area this month. “Proving once again that one person can make a significant difference, we support Barry’s successful efforts to help create the first generation of literate children in many of the villages around Timbuktu and Southern Sahara.”
To date, Caravan to Class has built eight schools in Africa. In many cases, the children of these communities are the first generation in their village to be literate. For as little as $120 per year, they are able to educate a child in a government-approved school. Since building their first school, Caravan to Class has become an important force for the revitalization of the region. Guided by the simple principle that “going to school” is a fundamental human right, they remain committed to serving the area long-term. The organization recently announced plans to add an adult female literacy class.
“We are committed to providing solutions that help break the cycle of illiteracy for these children and their families,” explains Hoffner. “We are grateful to our supporters, like the Good People Fund, who allow us to continue this work, bringing opportunity to an entire village.”
This ‘good person’- led non-profit joins nearly 80 other non-profits financially supported and professionally guided by The Good People Fund (www.goodpeoplefund.org) in the U.S. and Israel. Founded in 2008, The Good People Fund, inspired by the Jewish concept of tikkun olam (repairing the world), responds to significant problems such as poverty, disability, trauma and social isolation, primarily in the United States and Israel. The GPF provides financial support and management guidance for small to medium grassroots efforts whose grant recipients are leading their non-profits with annual budgets under $500,000 and no professional development staff, but are driven and determined to make a difference in their communities. With its guiding philosophy that small actions can have huge impacts and its emphasis on the personal connection, the GPF has raised and granted more than $7 million dollars. Further information can be found at www.goodpeoplefund.org
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