Friday, December 11, 2015

Founding Director Janice Lathen presents at Defrag

"Jina langu ni Janice. Mimi ni mwalimu. Ninafundisha elimu ya kompyuta."
"My name is Janice. I am a teacher. I teach classes of computers."

Janice captivates the audience 

And so Janice Lathen began the story of Powering Potential, beginning with the same Swahili greeting that started the whole journey. Words are important to Janice. She chooses them carefully. She had 30 minutes to speak of Powering Potential to an audience of 300 executives at the Defrag Conference, considered the "gold standard" of technology conferences, held on November 11 and 12 in Colorado.

Flanked by giant video screens on stage, Janice described a small rural school, less than a year old, where electricity was a some-day promise. She was on vacation in Tanzania, and her traveling group visited a local school. Each person greeted the children; Janice spoke in Swahili. Respect to different countries is important. The students appreciated the respect.

Even from Broomfield, Colorado, the audience could see the broad smiles that Janice described after she spoke in the native tongue. Twenty minutes on the stage -- computers can measure such things -- the first donation came in from a Defrag participant to Powering Potential. Solar power solved the problem of no electricity and Janice lived up to her promise, delivering that first computer to the first school.

Now there are programs in 13 schools reaching more than 7,000 children. A team of people in Tanzania and in the United States work to spread the word, and do more work. Many are volunteering. The Tanzanian government, in particular the Ministry of Education and Prime Minister's Office, are involved; local districts choose the schools. Cross-country participation is a key to the success of Powering Potential. Principles are important. Promises are kept.

The Defrag Conference is an annual event. 

Defrag is an organization dedicated to exploring technology, its reach and impact on all avenues of society. Entering their 10th year, the conference organizers pride themselves on the level of innovation and collaboration that happens among the attendees. It's a call to action that attracts caring and committed technology innovators, entrepreneurs and designers in the field.

Janice titled her speech "The Joy and Appreciation Variables."

"It was the joy that I felt in speaking Swahili,"" Janice explains. ""My desire to show respect to the Tanzanians by speaking in their own language. They reacted to the greeting with exuberant appreciation. It ignited a spark. The power of that reaction still reverberates ten years later."

Defrag participants sat in the audience, listening intently. Photographs of Halima, Neema and Tumaini appeared on the video screens with big grins. Another spark was ignited.

Founding Director Janice Lathen
presents at Defrag

"I heard and watched Janice present to the audience at the Defrag conference," said Larry Hawes, Research Director, Gigaom Research. "I was blown away by her and Powering Potential's work. So was the rest of the audience."

Janice had 30 minutes with the audience and donations kept coming in. The contributions were an unexpected bonus of the presentation, a reminder that this project touches individual lives.

Janice already had much to appreciate from Defrag connections. Another keynote speaker, Lorinda Brandon, had introduced Janice to the convention organizers, Eric and Kim Norlin, which led to her invitation to speak. Her travel expenses were sponsored by Mike Maney, VP Brand & Communications, of Cloud Foundry Foundation. The Norlins covered conference costs. Then came the exciting news that Charlie Wood, Co-founder and CEO at Numerous, would match whatever was raised from Defrag attendees. It was staggering: a total of $8,025 including the matching grant.

"The recognition of Powering Potential and the work we do is so fulfilling," said Janice. "Tanzania is a special place. To see that our work, and the work of our partners in Tanzania, is appreciated just renews our energy to do more."

"We have ambitious goals for the years ahead and plan to have more computer labs up and running as long as people continue to join forces with us to make it happen," she continued. "Our new connections through Defrag -- and the immediacy of their response to Powering Potential -- gives us new energy to keep moving forward."

 "Onward and upward!"

 o o o 

Swahili is the language of Tanzania. Here is another taste of that beautiful language:

Mimi ni Mmarekani.
I am an American.

Mimi ni Mtanzania.
I am a Tanzanian.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Three Schools in Bunda District Go Live

Our team installing a computer lab
for Kabasa Secondary School
They waited.

School was over for the day -- actually school ended hours ago -- but some of the Bunda District students lingered as the team from Powering Potential Inc. (PPI) installed solar energy systems and filled the schools' Computer Labs with their new computers.

It had been a long and bumpy road. Delivery shipments were late; the distance to headquarters was great, adding to the logistical challenge; and grant confusion added uncertainty to the mix.

"It was a long, arduous journey," said Janice Lathen, Founding Director of PPI, "but it had a joyful ending for 1,200 students. That made it all worthwhile. I'd like to thank the donors who made this possible."

Sazira students decided to help our team
unpack for the installation
Our institutional donors on this project came from Tanzania and the U.S. alongside the individuals listed at the end of this blog. All are eager to provide Tanzanian students with educational resources.

Over 10% of the installation costs for three schools in the Bunda District was provided by the Bunda District Council. Additional funding came from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Foundation, Newman's Own Foundation, United Nations Women's Guild, SanDisk Corporation, Serena Hotels (Tanzania), Segal Family Foundation, Issroff Family Foundation, and Bety N. Giles Charitable Foundation.

The schools were chosen to bring PPI to the home district of former Minister of State Stephen Wasira who helped facilitate this program. It is a great example of PPI's strong dedication to working closely with the government of Tanzania.

In this, the 11th, 12th and 13th installation, computers were placed in new labs for Sazira, Kabasa and Mekomariro Secondary Schools. It takes a great team to put together one school installation, let alone three.

Mekomariro Secondary School students
test out their new lab
The excitement was palpable as the students waited to begin their training course. We asked what they intended to do in the lab.

David Wilson from Form 1 replied: "I will use the computer to search material." "I will use the computer to learn science," said Tongoli Ntarisa.
Another student added: "My name is Doto Noah of Form 3. I will use the computer for learning resources!"

Country Director Albin Mathias led the charge with several team members he'd like to thank. The installation team included Luther Lee and the three school trainers: Neema Lyimo for Sazira,
Denis Christopher for Kabasa, and Karmeli Marko for Mekomariro. V. Ena Haines, Rich Segal and Manny Ackerman also provided technical support to the team.

Special thanks to these members of the team for providing the financial resources: Ahna, Adam, Amy, Anand, Andy, Anicetus, Anna, Anne & Stephen, Arnie & Karen, Barry, Ben, Beth, Betsy, Bob & Barbara, Brad, Brendan, Brooke, Campbell, Carol, Chris, Christa, Chuck & Carole, Clay, Colin, Cynthia, Dale, Dan, David, David & Jon, Defrag 2015, Doris & Gabe, Dorothy, Duncan, Edward, Elizabeth, Emilia, Emily, Eve, Fred, Friends at FreepositoryCorp., Gauri, Gregg, Hope, Janice, Jean, Jeff, John, Jonathan, Josh, Judith, Kelly, Kyle, Larry, Lisa & David, Liz, Lorinda, Lynn & Carrie, Madeline, Marc & Lili, Margaret & Jim, Mark, Matthew, Maura, Michael & Ena, Milt, Nan, Nancy, Nicky, Nina, Patrick & Kathy, Patti, Paul, Peter, PJW LC, Rich & Joanna, Robert, Robin, Ryan, Sara, Sharon, Shula & Marvin, Steve, Steve & Linda, Surya & Bushra, Susanne, Suzanne, Tanya, Tom & Pam, Veronica, and Warren.

"This is a great accomplishment for our team and I am thrilled." said Janice.

And as leaders do, she is already turning her focus to future school installations and program implementations in the Karatu District in February 2016.

o o o 

Swahili is the language of Tanzania.
Here is another taste of that beautiful language:

Subira yavuta heri.
Patience attracts blessings.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Meet Elibariki Magnus

This week, we would like to introduce you to Elibariki Magnus, who has been actively involved with Powering Potential.

Background and Introduction to Powering Potential

Elibariki Magnus
Elibariki Magnus was one of 28 applicants for the Technology Tent where we train new trainers. There were too many people and too few computers, but a simple decision solved the math: we would share computers. 

At the end of the five-month training, there were spots for four trainers. Elibariki was Number Five. It was heartbreaking. A part-time position was created, and Elibariki began working for Powering Potential.

In his own words: 

"I was born in Tanzania, Arusha region. I'm from a poor family. My father died in 2000 and my mother is a home mother. Her work is a farmer and I am the second born. 

At the time I heard of the Technology Tent, I was helping my family to survive in somehow a good life.

I failed to join any college due to poverty but I could afford to join the Technology Tent. It was like a favor to me." 

After a few years working for Powering Potential, Elibariki was ready for his next step: College.
"When I'm working with Powering Potential I developed my computer skills and ultimately aspired to join a college to study computer. This is because I like to use computers." 

Elibariki Magnus training students
Because Powering Potential supports schools and not individuals it seemed like a dead end. But it wasn't. An Advisory Board member, who requests anonymity, paid for Elibariki's first year at St. Joseph's College. He was on his way. 

Earning high grades, Elibariki is now studying for exams in his second year. Even the government is now helping to support Elibariki's dream to teach computers.

"Now I know the way to go in my life," says Elibariki, simply summing up for how far he has come.

"After college, I expect to be employed. First it is to change my family's life and, if God wishes, I would like to help other teenagers from poor families who struggle for education."

Potential can always be hiding as Number Five.

o o o 

Swahili is the language of Tanzania. Here is a taste:

Kama unataka kwenda haraka, nenda mwenyew
Kama unataka kwenda mbali, nenda pamoja.

If you want to go fast, go alone
If you want to go far, go together.

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Bunda Phase 1: Ready to Go!

The equipment which we will use to implement our program in the Bunda District near Lake Victoria has arrived at our office in Karatu, Tanzania. Albin Mathias, Country Director, and the staff are preparing for a Phase 1 implementation at three schools: Kabasa, Sazira, and Mekomariro Secondary Schools.

Each school has prepared a secure computer lab and provided the tables and chairs. The Bunda District Council contributed 10,000,000 TZ shillings (US $5,800). The printers, keyboards, mice, projector screens, headsets, routers, Ethernet cable and solar energy systems are all purchased from Tanzanian vendors and the other equipment is shipped from the United States to Arusha, Tanzania.

The equipment shipped from the U.S. for this Phase 1 project in three schools includes:
  • 30 Raspberry Pi computers
  • 28 Raspberry Pi cases
  • 18 Monitors and HDMI computer cables
  • 3 16-port network switches
  • 17 stereo cables
  • 35 SD memory cards (donated by SanDisk)
  • 3 Pocket Projectors
  • 3 Projector external batteries
  • 6 Capsule Speakers with rechargeable batteries
  • 10 high precision clock chips for the Raspberry Pi
  • 6 USB 2.0 flash drives
  • 2 rolls of industrial strength tape

Stay tuned for more photos of this installation which is scheduled for this month!

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Prime Minister's Office honors Powering Potential

Our Country Director, Albin Mathias, recently represented Powering Potential at Banjika Secondary School's graduation ceremony celebrating their 10th anniversary. Banjika was the location of Powering Potential's pilot program in 2007. We are honored to have participated in this momentous occasion, and thank the Prime Minister's Office for this certificate in commemoration.

From Albin:

"I was the one who attended the Banjika anniversary and 8th Form Four Graduation Ceremony, and received the certificate for Powering Potential. It was an honor for Powering Potential to attend, and to say words to the graduates. This year, Banjika will do the Information and Computer Studies national exam for the first time. This is a big achievement. It is because of the great work Powering Potential started at Banjika that we received the honor to congratulate graduates."

A note from Founding Director, Janice Lathen:

"It was my dream to get the Banjika school to the point where the students could take the Information and Computer Studies national exam. We are honored to have worked with the Banjika school and congratulate them and their graduates on this achievement."

Thursday, August 13, 2015

Pi-oneer Program Update: Visiting Zanzibar

From left: Abdulla, Mathias, Othman &
driver Mr. Faki
In April, we told you about the exciting grant we received from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Segal Family Foundation to support the installation of the Pi-oneer system in 56 schools in Tanzania.

The Pi-oneer is a Raspberry Pi computer loaded with offline educational content combined with a mobile projector and solar recharging unit. We're excited to now update you on our progress!

We are working closely with the Tanzanian government to plan for this project. We will be implementing the program in four regions of the country - two on the mainland and two in Zanzibar.

Powering Potential will place a Pi-oneer system in 20 schools in each of the two mainland regions, and 16 systems in the Zanzibar archipelago, for a total of 56 schools. Each system will be placed in a rural government secondary school.

Albin Mathis, Powering Potential Country Director recently visited the Zanzibar schools with Ministry of Education-Zanzibar (MoEZ) Officers as part of the program's pre-installation procedure. Ali O. Abdulla, Networking and System Admin (MoEZ ICT dept.) and Ranmadhan Othman, Student Services Officer (MoEZ), accompanied me on the trip.

The Zanzibar archipelago is comprised of two main islands (Unguja and Pemba) and smaller islets. One of the schools is reachable only by boat and another one only when the tide is out and a pathway opens up. Below are Albin's photos and captions from the school visits:

The experience of crossing the ocean to Tumbatu Island

Uzi is small Island in Unguja.
 The main transport to the island is by car or foot. 

Another marker outside of one of the schools. 

Ministry Officers received coconuts from students
at Head of School's office during the visit.

Albin drinking coconut given to him
from the students.

Having the new experience of
heading towards Fundo Island, Pemba

Seated from left: Khamis, Salim, and Issa
Standing from left: Kitwana and Kombo

Lastly, special thanks to Khamis Yusuph Khamis, Headmaster of the Shungi School; Mtomwa Salim, an assistant; Asya Issa, Director of Secondary Education at MoEZ; Mr. Slaum Kitwana; the Officer in charge of MoEZ Pemba, and Mwalimu Haji Kombo, the Regional Education Officer for Kunsini Pema. We wouldn't have been able to do this without your help! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Meet Eng. Albin Mathias, Country Director

This week, we want to introduce you to Powering Potential's Country Director, Eng. Albin Mathias, in his own words.

Background and Introduction to Powering Potential

Albin briefing His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete,
President of the United Republic of Tanzania

I was born and grew up in Arusha in the north of Tanzania.  I went to Tanga Technical Secondary School in 2002 and then to Old Moshi High School in 2006.  After graduation, I worked as a physics and chemistry teacher at Banjika Secondary School.  While teaching in Banjika, I spent my free time in the computer lab working on two laptops donated by Janice Lathen [Founding Director and President].  After a few months of practice by myself, I couldn't believe the experience I was having and how useful the resources had become to my fellow teachers and students.

On her next trip to Tanzania, Janice met with me in the computer lab. Janice and I worked with the technology with Banjika students, and then I conducted a training at the Noonkodin and Oltoroto schools, introducing the computers to middle and high school students and their teachers.

Albin with Ross Wehner, World Action Team

I graduated from St. Joseph University in Tanzania with a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Information Systems and Network Engineering, and became Powering Potential's Country Director in 2011.

Experience with Powering Potential

It has been a great honor to be part of the Powering Potential team.  As part of this team, I feel proud and energized.  It's been an honor to meet and discuss our programs with High Government officials, especially to exhibit the programs to the President, Prime Minister, and other Ministers and Permanent Secretaries.

Albin with Zuberi Samataba, Deputy Permanent Secretary
(Education) PMO-RALG, and Walter Minja
I also very much appreciate collaborating with District Executive Directors (DED), District Education Officers (DEO), the heads of schools, teachers, and students. Besides the challenges of limited budgets, most schools have been very cooperative with Powering Potential in bringing the world of technology to their community.

Honestly, I enjoy working with different people, meeting different cultures, and travelling across the country. It has been a great experience for me. Powering Potential is very important to me: in addition to being an employment opportunity, it has really powered my own potential. Powering Potential is where I recognized my own potential.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Partnership with Hassan Maajar Trust at Shimbwe

Teacher Training

Powering Potential is partnering with the Hassan Maajar Trust to provide a computer lab and training to the Shimbwe Secondary School near Moshi, Tanzania. The Hassan Maajar Trust was founded by Ambassador Mwanaidi Sinare Maajar who is the former Tanzanian Ambassador to the U.S. and a Senior Partner at Rex Attorneys in Dar es Salaam.

From June 15-26, Powering Potential installed the RACHEL server and computer network, and provided training for school leaders. Those being trained included the Headmaster, Second Master, two teachers and the school secretary. All school representatives were enthusiastic about the training and took to the technology very well. Powering Potential trainer, Elibariki Magnus, led the sessions.

RACHEL Pi server and router

Hassan Maajar Trust provided 10 laptops, as well as the tables and chairs for the computer lab. Powering Potential is providing technology consulting services. At Shimbwe, Elibariki installed a RACHEL server with offline educational content. RACHEL (Remote Access Community Hotspots for Education and Learning) is produced by World Possible and includes Khan Academy educational videos, selected Wikipedia articles, medical reference books, ebooks of world literature from Project Gutenberg, and other materials.

Elibariki then provided training on the server content and Raspberry Pi system over a two week period. He was able to work with the faculty and staff at Shimbwe, who were all excited to have the new computer system.

Students using RACHEL

Everyone was very happy with the training, stating that it was "well conducted" and "the education program will be useful to students and teachers." The teachers and students will use this system to access educational program content, teaching assistance, and reference materials. At the end of the training, the Headmaster remarked "I hope this new program to our school will motivate and encourage students' learning."  We hope so too!

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Major Leaps Forward

We're pleased to announce that Powering Potential, Inc. has made great strides in recent months. In January 2015, we became a New York State Not for Profit Corporation and we are in the process of filing for our 501 (c)3 tax exempt status. This is just one exciting step for Powering Potential as we move onward and upward as an organization.

In March 2015, we held our first official Board meeting at the office of the presitigous law firm, Akin Gump in New York CIty. Supporting Powering Potential on a pro-bono basis, Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Field LLP is a leading international law firm with more than 900 lawyers in offices throughout the United States, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Our Board of Directors consists of Milton Finger, Chair; Janice Lathen, President; Denis Petrov, Secretary; and Matt Cohen, Treasurer. Akin Gump was represented by Miriam Foley, Zuza Savoff and Pat Gunn.

From left: Milton Finger, Miriam Foley, Zuza Savoff, Matt Cohen, Pat Gunn, Denis Petrov
(Janice took the photo)

Powering Potential’s day-to-day operations are now being run by the management team of Albin Mathias, Janice Lathen, V. Ena Haines and Rich Segal.

In April, 2015, we moved into office space at The Yard, New York City’s premier office space and coworking community. With a dedicated desk, 24/7 access and conference rooms, the new office is proving to be the perfect, affordable home base for operations in the United States.

Work Space at The Yard.jpg
Janice Lathen at her dedicated desk
at The Yard

Janice in a conference room at The Yard
with Administrative and Fundraising Consultant
Sarah Benvenuti

Recently, we installed a solar energy system at the office in Karatu! This exciting project will allow our team to continue working even when the electricity goes out which happens too often. This solar expansion will be crucial as we implement the $112,000 grant from the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Segal Family Foundation in support of the installation of 56 Pi-oneer systems in Tanzania.

Solar panels on
Powering Potential's Karatu Office

With this exciting new growth, Powering Potential is moving onward and upward towards achieving our mission: Use technology to enhance education and stimulate imagination of students in Tanzania while respecting and incorporating values of the local culture cooperation over competition, community over the individual, modesty over pride and spirituality over materiality.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A 'Thumb Up' from H.E. Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, President of Tanzania, at Education Week

Powering Potential had the honor of briefing His Excellency Dr. Jakaya Kikwete, President of the United Republic of Tanzania, at this year's Education Week in Dodoma the capital of Tanzania. President Kikwete visited the Powering Potential exhibit during the closing ceremony and gave our work a thumb up, saying "Kazi nzuri! Hii ni tekinolojia tunayohitaji vijijini." ("Good work! This is the technology which we need for the rural areas."). This is the second time His Excellency was briefed on Powering Potential; the first time was at the DICOTA convention in 2011.

"Kazi nzuri! This is a good solution" 

Briefing His Excellency

When asked what it was like meeting President Kikwete, Country Director Albin Mathias said, "So excited!...especially when he talked to us and gave a thumb up in appreciation of our solution. I feel energized and very honored. It was my first time meeting the president and shaking hands. I hope you can feel how this was. Just after the move Prof. Mchome [Permanent Secretary of Ministry of Education and Vocational Training] was watching from distance and he saluted to us three times. That was great appreciation!"

From left: Hon. Shukuru Kawambwa,
Minister of Education;
Walter Minja; and Albin Mathias 

Tanzanian national TV stations ITV and TBC conducted interviews with Albin which aired that night on the 8:00pm news and The Citizen, a Tanzanian newspaper, published an article about our work.

This year's Education Week motto was "Elimu bora ni haki ya kila mtoto" ("Quality education for every child"). As part of Powering Potential's commitment to this motto, we will be distributing 56 Pi-oneer units (mobile projector/Raspberry Pi computer) to 56 rural secondary schools that lack electricity and technology. This project is funded by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Segal Family Foundation, and will be implemented in collaboration with the Prime Minister's Office-Regional Administration Local Government (PMO-RALG).

Albin and Hon. Kassim Majaliwa,
Deputy Minister of State PMO-RALG

From left: Albin; Zuberi Samataba,
Deputy Permanent Secretary (Education) PMO-RALG;
and Walter Minja

We had a number of visitors throughout the week. A group of students were surprised to see that a computer could be so small and run on such a small solar power system. They all wanted to try out the Rapsberry Pi! One woman, Miss Angelika (below) stopped by the booth full of emotion, saying "Nyinyi ni watu wa haki, mnasaidia wanafunzi wa vijijini waliokosa fursa kama wanayopata shule za mijini" ("You are the people of human rights. You give equal opportunities to rural students who miss the opportunities that urban students receive."). We were honored by her stories and the excitement of the students and all involved. 

Walter showing students the Raspberry Pi computer

Miss Angelika and Walter Minja

We thank Professor Eustella Bhalalusesa, Commissioner of Education, for inviting us to participate in Education Week. It is a privilege for us to be partnering with the Tanzanian government to provide quality education for every child. We hope the Pi-oneer program is just the beginning!

Thursday, April 16, 2015

$112,000 for the Pi-oneer Planting Project

Powering Potential is honored to have received $56,000 from the Raspberry Pi Foundation with a generous match of $56,000 by the Segal Family Foundation.


These grants will fund Powering Potential’s efforts to place the Pi-oneer, an innovative teaching tool, in 56 schools in rural Tanzania. The Pi-oneer is a portable unit which includes the Raspberry Pi computer loaded with offline RACHEL educational content and Khan Academy videos, a mobile projector, screen, and solar recharging unit that supports the entire package. Teachers can use the Pi-oneer in their classrooms to display visual representations of concepts being taught. We believe this project will plant potent seeds in fertile ground and yield a fruitful harvest of engaged and informed young people.

Country Director Albin Mathias demonstrates the Pi-oneer

The Raspberry Pi computer is an energy-efficient, low cost, credit-card sized computer. The idea behind a tiny and affordable computer for kids came in 2006 from the University of Cambridge’s Computer Laboratory in England.

Country Director Albin Mathias presents the Pi-oneer at Rigicha Secondary School in Serengeti District

Potential has also been featured in the Raspberry Pi Hacks book, which helps readers turn the Raspberry Pi into the centerpiece for a variety of electronics projects. You can find more information about this in a previous blog post. Powering Potential has already placed the Pi-oneer in three schools in Tanzania, including one remote school in the Serengeti. The Ministry of Education and Vocational Training has asked to partner with Powering Potential on this new project, which will reach over 20,000 students across Tanzania. We thank the Raspberry Pi Foundation and the Segal Family Foundation for this generous support.

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Powering Potential Consults on Karagwe University College Project

Powering Potential provided consulting services to Educate Tanzania in assessing the technology needs for a new college being built in Tanzania. Educate Tanzania and Evangelical Lutheran Church Karagwe Diocese have partnered to build the Karagwe University College (KARUCO) in the Karagwe District/Kagera Region near Lake Victoria in northwest Tanzania. KARUCO will focus mainly on agriculture and environmental studies. The team at KARUCO reached out to Powering Potential to assist in establishing the technology for the school.

From left: Rev. Dr. Benson Bagonza, Bishop ELCT Karagwe Diocese; Albin Mathias, Powering Potential Country Director and Prof. Jan Hansen President/CEO Educate Tanzania.

The team was on site from January 26th through the 29th, 2015 to assess the feasibility and requirements of various systems of water harvesting, storage, treatment, filtering, distribution and re-use. Albin advised on how to ensure access to technology at the University.

Karagwe ELCT Bishop, Karagwe District Commissioner, Karagwe District Official and
KARUCO task force onsite visit. 

The KARUCO task force team and Educate Tanzania are working hard to open the University by January 2016. Powering Potential is pleased to be a part of this task force.

Prof. Jan Hansen, President/CEO Educate Tanzania; Rev. Dr. Benson Bagonza, Bishop Karagwe Diocese,;John Mongella, Kagera Regional Commissioner; and Ms. Rwegasira, Karagwe District Commissioner

Friday, April 3, 2015

Country Director Albin Mathias Participates in the Ericsson Global Perspectives Program

From January 19-23, 2015, Powering Potential's Country Director, Albin Mathias, was delighted to have the opportunity to participate in the Ericsson Global Perspectives Program, held this year in Karatu, Tanzania. Thirty-five Ericsson Leaders and eight NGO leaders from Karatu attended the program, which was organized by World Action Teams. Held at the Farm of Dreams Lodge, the program included excursions, sessions with Executive Coach Richard Leider, and opportunities to work closely with other participants. 

Participants at the Farm of Dreams Lodge

During several excursions in Karatu, Ericsson leaders took the time to learn more about NGO leaders' programs in Tanzania. A number of the participants visited Florian Secondary School and the Powering Potential offices as part of the program. Additionally, all participants visited FAME Hospital in Karatu, as well as the Ngorongoro crater. 

Participants at Ngorongoro Crater Safari

We are thrilled that Albin and Powering Potential could benefit from the experience of this powerful leadership development program. During one exercise, the NGO leaders were asked to identify their own leadership talents from a list of options. Albin learned that he brought to the Powering Potential team his natural talents in problem-solving, creating trust, bringing joy, and making things work. We would like to thank Ross Wehner and the World Action Teams for this great opportunity to learn and shard experiences with the other Ericsson Global Perspectives Program leadership training participants. 

Ross Wehner, World Action Teams, and Albin Mathias, Powering Potential

Friday, January 2, 2015

The Season of Giving Back

Read article below or click here for online article.

The Season of Giving Back
Posted: Updated: 

A Guest Post by Rich Segal, Segal Family Foundation Board Member

The holiday season is all about giving. It reminds us to be thankful for what we have and to give back to those in need. Surrounded by friends and family, it's easy to feel a strong sense of gratitude and a desire to be philanthropic.
With all of life's demands, sometimes volunteering our time and making donations to worthy charities fall off our radar. As a Board Member of the Segal Family Foundation (SFF), a charitable foundation my father founded to help grassroots NGOs in Sub Saharan Africa achieve their vision of development in their communities, I am fortunate to be able to make a positive impact all year-round. Basic needs, such as educating children and medical care, require continual attention, money and time.
Through my years on the Board of the Segal Family Foundation, I have leveraged my skills and interests as a computer scientist to help communities in need. At SFF, I was introduced to one of our partners, Powering Potential, and I found my way to give back throughout the year.
2014-12-19-janicerichstudents.jpgJanice Lathen, founder & executive director of Powering Potential, two Tanzanian scholars and myself.
Powering Potential works with government secondary schools to build solar-powered computer labs in rural Tanzania. Bringing technology to rural schools is no easy task. The schools targeted by Powering Potential have no electricity, the teachers have minimal to no computer experience, and cellular service is spotty at best. Each Powering Potential computer lab consists of twenty Raspberry Pi computers, a local area network, a projector, a web server with a local copy of the RACHEL educational content from, and the solar-power required to run it all.
The energy-efficient Raspberry Pi computers with monitors require just 10 watts of electricity each and provide a fully capable computer suitable for viewing Khan Academy videos, running Libre Office, and teaching computer programming. The Raspberry Pi is perfect for rural Tanzania as it has no moving parts. The Pi's use SD cards for storage and are passively cooled with no fans to break down.
2014-12-19-students.jpgStudents using the Raspberry Pi computers with RACHEL educational content powered by solar energy.
Powering Potential puts a world of knowledge in the hands of teachers and students. What impresses me most is how its team of volunteers and professional staff engage with each school district, making them a partner in building and deploying the computer lab. To participate in the program, each school must provide a secure, dedicated classroom and desks for the lab. The computers are delivered in two phases. In the first phase, a solar-powered lab with five computers is installed, and the teachers and students are trained. Before the full lab of twenty computers is installed, the school is required to hire a full-time computer instructor and to commit to offering the national Information and Computer Studies (ICS) four-year curriculum. In addition to teaching the students how to use computer technology, the ICS courses helps ensure the computers have a purpose and are continued to be used years after they are installed.
The Powering Potential computer labs motivate teachers to take a new interest in their work. Science teachers are using the Khan Academy videos to help students learn advanced subject matter. Schools participating in Powering Potential's Educating-Through-Technology program report both increased student enrollment and substantial increases in the number of students passing the Form V entrance exams, which determine who qualifies for upper-level classes.
2014-12-19-richstudent.jpgWorking with a student in a solar-powered computer lab in rural Tanzania.

With the holiday season upon us, I remain thankful for what I have. I am extremely thankful for my dad, Barry Segal, and Powering Potential for giving me the opportunity to make a positive impact on others. For NGOs like Powering Potential with tight budgets, I marvel at all the good it does with such limited resources. I am honored and privileged to be a part of this organization as it grows and improves the lives of children in Tanzania.