Saturday, December 20, 2014

Letter from Board Member

Dear Patrons and Friends,

At this time of year, we want to thank all our Powering Potential supporters and share some thoughts about the year ahead. 2014 was a very good year for Powering Potential. With the support of our patrons, we increased the number of schools with computers from six to ten.

We have developed plans to expand to two additional districts in the next few months. In anticipation, we have hired Neema Lyimo to work on technical support and training with our Country Director Albin Mathias. Word of the program has spread so that we have a long list of schools wanting to participate. We are thus poised to scale up to achieve our vision: bringing technology to rural secondary schools across Tanzania. 

I saw first-hand what a difference our efforts are making when I visited the six Powering Potential schools in Tanzania with Founding Executive Director Janice Lathen last January. I came away impressed by how the program is truly collaborative, and how vital local effort is to its sustainability.
Our Educating-Through-Technology program continues at every school in which it has been installed over the last eight years, despite the many challenges faced by these chronically underfunded rural schools.

Powering Potential Advisory Board Member Ena Haines
addressing the students of the Baray Secondary School
January 2014

During our visit to one particularly remote school, the headmaster recited a sad litany of shortages, including teachers, books, classrooms, a dormitory and water. The school couldn't pay the technology trainer after Powering Potential's salary funding commitment ended. The computers were not in good working order. Then the assistant headmaster volunteered to take on the responsibilities of technology training and support. He was a recent graduate who had computer experience in college. Powering Potential sent a technical support person to train him and fix the computers. That school's project is back on track because of local understanding of its value and our shared commitment.

We're also excited by the interest shown in the program by Tanzanian government agencies, including the Rural Energy Agency, which has been funding the solar installations. The President's personal assistant for education arranged for us to meet Professor Sifuni Mchome, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Education. He has since initiated meetings with Janice in New York and invited a multi-year proposal from Powering Potential to eventually replicate the program across the nation. If this proposal is accepted, it will position us to fulfill our vision of working collaboratively with Tanzanians at the school, district and national levels.

Permanent Secretary of the Ministry 
of Education and Vocational Training Prof. Sifuni Mchome
and Founding Executive Director Janice Lathen
January 2014

We ask that you consider continuing to support Powering Potential when planning your year-end giving. Your donation will help both current and long term goals.

Our immediate need is for $20,000 to install 18 computers in three schools in Bunda, near Lake Victoria. This effort is already supported by the Tanzania Rural Energy Agency, the Bunda District government, and the IEEE Foundation (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers). We need $20,000 more to accomplish the installation, and we're hoping to raise it in December so that the work can take place in January for the beginning of their new school year. 

Every donation helps. For example, $200 pays for one computer with monitor and keyboard; $500 pays for one projector; and $1,000 will buy the network equipment for three schools. Help us complete this project! To contribute, please visit the donation page on our website.

Donations to Powering Potential are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law. Our fiscal sponsor is International Collaborative for Science, Education and the Environment (ICSEE) - TIN: 22-31558263, a 501(c)3 non-profit public charity.

Wishing you a happy holiday season and a rewarding New Year,

V. Ena Haines
Powering Potential Advisory Board
Director of IT, retired
Teachers College, Columbia University