High Hopes Haiti: Technology Solutions to Support Young Women's Dreams

High Hopes Haiti: Technology Solutions to Support Young Women's Dreams

Tovar/Grison-Garde/Morne, HaitiCharlotte, United States
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
$100,000 - $250,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Mothering Across Continents is a 501c3 non-profit platform providing coaching, consulting and mentoring for projects serving vulnerable children through education, nutrition, joy, health, peace.

About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

There is significant research-based evidence that education of young women in low-income countries and communities contributes to increased per capita GDP and "real development." There is also evidence that "non-traditional" vocational training, including ICT and technology (generally), can have a dramatic effect on skill levels, employability and micro-enterprise development. Yet, in Haiti, especially rural communities that did not receive post-earthquake support, technology-focused education and training are generally not available to young women. The implication is that without access to computer-based and digital literacy skills required in the 21st century, young women in Haiti cannot reach their true potential and contribute to economic development.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The High Hopes Haiti (HHH) project was successfully piloted in 2011-12, providing 75 XO laptops and software training to three schools in Tovar/Grison-Garde/Morne, coupled with computer skills training for 30 specially-selected young women high school students. (Attached press release states "24." Six more participants were added for a total of 30.) Training was reinforced by U.S. computing studies graduate students from 5 universities through collaboration with the STARS Alliance Leadership Corps. A satellite dish and Internet access have been installed. She Will Innovate funding will underwrite an advanced two-week workshop in late 2012/early 2013 through which the young women will make connections between their skills, dreams, and the use of technology to address community needs. Funding will also support 5 virtual mentoring sessions connecting participants with U.S. university computing studies students who will travel to Haiti and support the effort in Spring 2013.
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The advanced workshop for which we seek funding will be supported by Courtney Jackson, co-catalyst of the HHH project, and led by Angela Luciani, a skilled facilitator of vocational training for young women. Angela has facilitated education and vocational projects with young women in multiple countries, including Inuit communities in Canada, Guatemala and Nepal. The workshop covers 12 modules and exercises spanning: Skills, Knowledge and Attitudes identification; Significant Life and Community Events, Resources and Networks; Reflective Thinking on "My Life Story"; Community Needs and Learning Opportunities; Visioning and Goal-Setting; Exposure to Job/Career Planning; and Action Projects for My Community. An exciting element of the workshop will be real-time application of the laptops and education software to the process. Exercises involve writing, discussions and an art-based personal portfolio/scrapbook, reinforced by content digitizing and PowerPoint presentations that the young women will develop. Following the workshops, participants will share the digitized records and PPT presentations in virtual sessions with U.S. university students and Haitian-American businesspeople. They will also receive coaching on how to use these tools in community discussions, as well as help community leaders share these stories with other communities, Haitian officials, and stakeholders in business associations and non-governmental organizations (NGOs). The process will involve imagining the role of technology in addressing community needs in healthcare, clean water, etc.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Haiti has received extensive financial, in-kind and volunteer support. However, the vast majority is directed to urban settings/Port-au-Prince, not the northern, rural region where our project focuses. Also, studies including Ph.D. research by Dr. Sara Amodio at the U. of Colorado, indicate that few vocational training and ICT initiatives are available to young women in Haiti. Our pre-project assessment indicated less likelihood of other players posing challenges and more opportunity to collaborate with non-profits that will be interested in replicating/scaling the work to the vast need. We have already demonstrated our desire to work this way by joining resources from Waveplace Foundation, Hands for Haiti, and the STARS Alliance Leadership Corps for the orignal pilot implementation.

Founding Story

After the Haiti earthquake, a former project manager of Mothering Across Continents (MAC) with longstanding experience in Haiti proposed we develop a project. We were initially skeptical given that our philosophy is to develop projects only in communities with limited NGO presence and financial support. Extensive aid had already been pledged to Haiti. Our two "Aha!" moments were: (1) We learned that the vast majority of support was targeted to Port-au-Prince, focused on disaster relief. Our project site is in the rural north and designed as sustainable development via learning that leverages technology solutions; (2)UN, IMF and World Bank research, and our conversations with non-profits in Haiti, confirmed the scarcity of vocational training, leadership development and mentoring (particularly technoloyg and ICT) for young women. Indeed, NONE of the students at our project site had any access to computers or ICT. We saw a clear opportunity to model innovative programming.
About You
Mothering Across Continents
About You
First Name


Last Name


About Your Organization
Organization Name

Mothering Across Continents

Organization Country

, NC, Charlotte, Mecklenburg County

Country where this project is creating social impact

, NE, Tovar/Grison-Garde/Morne

Age of Innovator

Over 34

Gender of Innovator


How long has your organization been operating?

1‐5 years

Has the organization received awards or honors? Please tell us about them

In 2009, Mothering Across Continents (MAC) was selected by Charlotte Parent Magazine as one of two organizations in Charlotte, NC, significantly impacting the lives of children. Through a collaboration with the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Computing and Infomatics, the MAC High Hopes Haiti project received specifialized grant funding from the National Science Foundation for travel by U.S. university students to Haiti. We have received funding for innovative education in Haiti via the United Methodist Church of Britain. For the work of MAC, Chief Catalyst Patricia Shafer received a 2012 Rotary World Peace Fellowship. For his volunteer work, specifically MAC/Raising South Sudan, Board Member and project catalyst Phillips Bragg was selected by the Association of Fundraising Professionals Charlotte Chapter as the 2012 Outstanding Emerging Philanthropist.

The information you provide here will be used to fill in any parts of your profile that have been left blank, such as interests, organization information, and website. No contact information will be made public. Please uncheck here if you do not want this to happen..

How long have you been in operation?

Operating for 1‐5 years

Which of the following best describes the barrier(s) your innovation addresses? Choose up to two

Access, Equity.

Social Impact
What solution(s) does your initiative address to better the lives of girls and women by leveraging technology? (select all applicable)

Access to technology, Access to education/training.

What has been the impact of your solution to date?

In northern, rural Haiti, we introduced a community's first-ever XO laptops and training project in three schools with combined populations of more than 1,000 students. Thirty specially-selected young women high school students received introductory ICT, leadership and mentoring training to help them envision how these skills could be empowering. When young women in low-income communities receive meaningful training and mentoring to envision positive futures, this can help decrease early pregnancy, HIV and poverty, and increase job opportunities, micro-enterprise and per capita GDP. Our project's launch in 2011-12 led to connections between young women in the High Hopes Haiti project, U.S. students in computing studies at 5 universities, and newly-identified potential mentors from the Haitian-American business community. The project's innovative approaches have kept involvement of original participants high (no drop-off) and sustained community leader support for future activities.

What is your projected impact over the next 1-3 years?

With She Will Innovate funding, we will conduct an advanced leadership, development and computer workshop with young women Haitian high school students in late 2012/early 2013 and 5 virtual sessions between them and U.S. university students and Haitian-American businesspeople. This will prepare all involved for more ICT/community needs training in Spring 2013. Our Summer 2013 plan calls for the young women to have access to an even broader vocational training effort on-the-ground and virtually. Following the model of the Global Giveback Circle, recognized by the Clinton Global Initiative and from which we have received advice, we will seek partnerships with non-profits, Haitian government representatives and sponsors to replicate the program to other Haitian communities in 2013-14.

What barriers might hinder the success of your project? How do you plan to overcome them?

It is important to have a project liaison in Haiti who understands and can support the project goals; speaks English and Haitian Creole; is comfortable with communications via email, Internet and satellite; and will live in rural, northern Haiti. We are currently transitioning from our 2012 project liaison (who has been accepted to medical school) and a new one who will need to be successfully "onboarded." Maintaining involvement and continuity with volunteers, in this case - U.S. university students and Haitian-American businesspeople - can be challenging. We are staying in close coordination with the U.S. university professor who led the STARS Alliance Leadership Corps trip to our project in 2012. She is already re-recruiting students for the Spring 2013 trip.

Winning entries present a strong plan for how they will achieve and track growth. Identify your six-month milestone for growing your impact
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your six-month milestone
Task 1

Finalize advanced workshop for late 2012/early 2013, including translation of materials & instructions into Haitian Creole.

Task 2

Prepare community elders/leaders with information/understanding of advanced workshop and follow-on virtual sessions.

Task 3

Incorporate ICT as essential element of workshop delivery, materials and outcomes reporting.

Now think bigger! Identify your 12-month impact milestone
Identify three major tasks you will have to complete to reach your 12-month milestone
Task 1

Successfully share outcomes of advanced workshop with community, using ICT as the mechanism.

Task 2

Conduct 5 effective virtual sessions between the young women participants and U.S. students and businesspeople.

Task 3

Facilitate Spring 2013 ICT training workshop and a broader, extended vocational training "camp" in Summer 2013.

Tell us about your partnerships

We actively seek partnerships and have efficiently expanded the impact of our HHH project budget this way. For example, we launched the project by engaging and collaborating with non-profits Hands for Haiti, Providence United Methodist Church in Charlotte, NC, Waveplace Foundation, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte Department of Computing and Infomatics. Also, the original project conceptualization leveraged experiences and coaching from Global Giveback Circle success with young women's leadership development and mentoring in East Africa.

Please elaborate on any needs or offers you have mentioned above and/or suggest categories of support that aren't specified within the list

We would benefit from counsel on media/social media to expand marketing, promotions, publicity and donor relations impact. We are keen to share knowledge and experience to expand some of our project innovations across borders.Patricia Shafer, Chief Catalyst, is a 2012 Rotary World Peace Fellow, and is looking for opportunities to collaborate on projects related to education for peacebuilding.