It's Giving Tuesday!!!

Anna Owusu, December 02, 2014

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Giving Tuesday, a global day for giving back, is officially here! Please join us in creating hope and opportunity for students in rural Ghana, as we work to raise $1500 this holiday season and ensure that education is not disrupted for 10 students. A gift of even $5 goes a long way toward guaranteeing education for a young student. To thank you for your generosity we will send you a gift. Just a little something to let you know how much we appreciate you!

Here’s what you can do this Tuesday: Give Back and Get a Gift Donate to our holiday project page by visiting www.nkoso.org.

Share the cause with a friend Take a selfie and promote Giving Tuesday with #givingtuesday and #nkoso on social media. We’ll be sharing any selfies that are sent to us (s.owusu@nkoso.org).

Shop Silpada Jewelry Today!

Anna Owusu, November 28, 2014

This holiday season we are determined to raise $1500 in order to fund education for 10 students. Help us by shopping Silpada Jewelry from now until Dec. 10th. Check out the special Black Friday deals below!

If you're looking for a gift for someone special, skip the lines and chaos of Black Friday and consider easy online shopping. Save big on bracelets and cuffs retailing for $139-$149 for only $99, but act fast because supplies are limited. She's donating $20 for every bracelet or cuff sold and until Dec. 10th will donate 10% of proceeds on other items. With a few clicks you’ll be scratching names off your gift list and securing education for a child and family in need. You can view and purchase jewelry by clicking here.

nKoso’s First Soccer Tournament: Sabwill’s Dining Tables and Benches

Anna Owusu, October 16, 2014

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You may remember, back in May on our trip to Ghana, we hosted a soccer tournament. Let me tell you, this was a bigger success and more fun than we could ever have imagined. Those children love to play soccer! They showed up in their team uniforms ready to play and to put on a show for the unexpectedly large audience.

This soccer tournament was a vehicle for an initiative to help improve the schools we work with at nKoso. Sabwill Educational Complex came in second place and used the prize money to purchase dining tables and benches for the students to have a place to eat lunch and snack. Prior to this purchase, there were no dining facilities at the school.

Sabwill is located in a rural part of Ghana. They currently power the school through solar power, as there is no electricity available. They are lacking a number of resources that they would like to provide to their students, but are determined to continue making improvements.

Keep checking back with us so that we can keep you updated on what the other schools did with their prize money in an effort to improve the schools!

International Literacy Day!

Anna Owusu, September 08, 2014

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Written by: Lisa Riley

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) celebrates International Literacy Day today! Here is what UNESCO has to say about today being a worldwide recognition of literacy:

The theme of International Literacy Day 2014 is “Literacy and Sustainable Development”. Literacy is one of the key elements needed to promote sustainable development, as it empowers people so that they can make the right decisions in the areas of economic growth, social development and environmental integration. Literacy is a basis for lifelong learning and plays a crucial foundational role in the creation of sustainable, prosperous and peaceful societies. Literacy skills developed from a basic to advanced level throughout life are part of broader competencies required for critical thinking, the sense of responsibility, participatory governance, sustainable consumption and lifestyles, ecological behaviours, biodiversity protection, poverty reduction, and disaster risk reduction.
This year’s International Literacy Day will be celebrated worldwide. A main global celebration will take place in Dhaka, where the Government of Bangladesh in cooperation with UNESCO will organize the International Conference on “Girls’ and women’s literacy and education: Foundations for sustainable development and the awarding of UNESCO Literacy Prizes” in support for the UN Secretary General’s Global Education First Initiative (GEFI).

Since UNESCO so clearly speaks nKoso’s language and shares nKoso’s passion, here is their answer to the following question: “Why is Literacy Important?”

Literacy is a human right, a tool of personal empowerment and a means for social and human development. Educational opportunities depend on literacy. Literacy is at the heart of basic education for all, and essential for eradicating poverty, reducing child mortality, curbing population growth, achieving gender equality and ensuring sustainable development, peace and democracy. There are good reasons why literacy is at the core of Education for All (EFA). A good quality basic education equips pupils with literacy skills for life and further learning; literate parents are more likely to send their children to school; literate people are better able to access continuing educational opportunities; and literate societies are better geared to meet pressing development.

We couldn't have said it better ourselves! Happy International Literacy Day!

Celebrate International Day of Charity!

Anna Owusu, September 05, 2014

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International Day of Charity

Written by Lisa Riley

Here at nKoso, we view education as a gateway, a vehicle for the children of our world to build the proper foundation necessary to shine, to contribute to and positively impact our local and global communities, and to foster change.

Today, 5 September 2014, is the United Nations’ International Day of Charity, which is aimed at promoting charitable efforts made to alleviate poverty worldwide. In the Secretary-General’s Message for 2014, Ban Ki-moon asks that we “... recognize charity for what it is at heart: a noble enterprise aimed at bettering the human condition. On this International Day, I call on people everywhere to act on the charitable impulse that resides in every human being – to start giving and to keep on giving.” The UN chose this specific date to coincide with the anniversary of the death of Mother Teresa, “whose life and good works for some of the human family’s poorest and most vulnerable members has been such an enormous inspiration.”

While our primary goal is to fund education, it goes without saying that poverty and education are closely linked. Educating our children ultimately improves our communities, alleviating poverty by increasing individual incomes. Our students depend upon the charity of you, our donors, to assist them in improving their situation and their futures through collectively funding their education.

Often times the world can feel overwhelming. We see so much worth changing, yet we don’t know where to start. Mother Teresa once said: “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.” At nKoso, you can feed just one! Join us today in changing the world, one child at a time.

Sources: UN.ORG

Soccer Tournament Leads to School Improvements!

Anna Owusu, August 14, 2014

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Our team recently returned from a two week trip to Ghana. We had an unbelievable time! It was powerful to have an opportunity to meet all the students and families that we have been working. We were greeted so warmly by our partner schools and Nissi Care, the small orphanage where 5 of our students live. I think we all left a little different than we arrived.

During our time in Dormaa-Ahenkro, we hosted a soccer tournament between our three partner schools and another prospective partner school. The turn out was unbelievable! The skill and spirit of the players was incredible. We offered each school a small cash prize for the winning schools and the others for participating to be used for a small project to enhance their school. We recently received word St. Cecilia used the funds to purchase teaching materials and learning games for their youngest students. We're so excited to share the pictures that they shared with us and happy that a small gift is creating some new opportunities for our partner schools.

Arrived in Dormaa-Ahenkro

Anna Owusu, May 19, 2014

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We have arrived at our destination of Dormaa-Ahenkro in mid-western Ghana. We have taken some time to acclimatize to this hot and humid weather and familiarize ourselves with the town. We have met many locals, some of whom are enrolled in nKoso or have family members in the program. The children are wonderful, full of life and energy. They often call to us from the side of the street, smiling and waving. We are looking forward to visiting our partner schools and building upon our relationships with them.

En route to Dormaa-Ahenkro!

Anna Owusu, May 13, 2014

Excitement is mounting as we are now about to depart on a trip to Ghana!

That's right folks! A crew of 7 nKoso team members are embarking on a trip to Dormaa-Ahenkro in mid-western Ghana. This is the place that inspired Anna and Sylvester to start nKoso in the first place. We will get the opportunity to connect with the students and families whose educations we have all been working to fund.

Preparations are in order. Submit passport, get vaccines, figure out what to pack, say a prayer that all the plans fall into place...

Of course, the majority of the excitement is not from all of the preparations, but from the thought that we will finally meet the children whose pictures and biographies I've been looking at over the past year. We are looking forward to an incredibly impactful experience that will remind us what we are all working to support.

While we are there we will have the opportunity to visit the schools and meet with the students, visit their families, update student registrations, and introduce ourselves to potential new schools that are in need of financial assistance. We will also be going to the Mercy House Orphanage where nKoso works to fund education for 5 children who live there. We want to connect with the community and ensure that our work is having the intended impact of empowerment and hope.

We’re looking forward to meeting the families of these children, hearing their voices and seeing them as they truly are: comfortable, in their own environment, and not awkwardly forcing a smile as their nKoso photos are snapped. After all, not all children are raised as American's are these days -- conditioned to pose for anything with a flash.

It's destined to be an awe inspiring trip, and one that we all hope to document as well as we possibly can, so we can share our experience with you. Stay tuned to nKoso for future posts with pictures, video and reflection!

Written by Alicia Lane

Holy Moly! Today Is Our Anniversary!

Anna Owusu, April 15, 2014

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A year ago on this day we launched nKoso.org. Wow! Time is flying! I can't believe it has already been a year! By the end of the day on April 15, 2013, 8 students were fully funded. I was blown away. In a day and age when we have countless choices and opportunities to spend money, I was so touched that so many good-hearted people chose to join us in supporting education for some wonderful students. I can't thank you enough for being so amazing. We are so excited about nKoso and the work that we are doing together. It's about more than just education; we're sending a positive and loving message to the world.

I've come to believe that nKoso was born out of gratitude. Spending time in Ghana taught me to appreciate all that I have and when that shift occurred, I saw how I could give back. It felt bigger than just what I could do and more about a responsibility to step into a world bigger than myself. I know that I'm not the only one who feels a call to make a difference and create an impact, even if it's just in the life of one person. nKoso is designed to serve amazing students and families in Ghana, but it's also here to serve the wonderfully, kind, generous people like you that feel so strongly in your heart that you can make a difference. You don't have to be a billionaire to do some good in the world. You need only give up an occasional latte or beer and you can easily make a difference. A real, significant difference. Because not only does contributing to an education of a child give an amazing gift, but it sends a message of love around the world. And that can't be ignored. That will have ripple effects and you never know how far that $5 donation will carry. Ghandi said it best, "In a gentle way, you can shake the world." I want to embody this and nKoso has become a vehicle. I hope it can be a vehicle for you also.

Please celebrate with us! Join us in donating to a student or share our cause with your friends and family! In the past 12 months we have funded 80 students through the loving support of 331 donations. Thank you so much for the tremendous and ongoing support. We can't believe how far we've come and are so excited for all that is to come! Stay tuned for exciting developments in our second year!

UPDATE: Nissi Care Orphanage

Anna Owusu, April 07, 2014

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We've started funding some of the orphans from Mercy House for their 2014-2015 academic school year! They are currently approaching the end of their first year at Yesu Mmo in Dormaa-Ahenkro and we have received their mid year attendance reports which indicated that they all had excellent attendance! Unfortunately, Grace Darko, the compassionate and loving woman who cares for the children at Mercy House, as well as many other young people in the community, lost her husband in November of 2013. This is not only a personal loss, but a financial one also. Much of the funding for the orphanage was a result of his pension.

These lovely students need our help now more than ever! We hope you'll consider how you can make a difference and ensure their academic future is possible. You can learn more about Frank, Comfort, and Abigail by visiting their profiles today!

To reach a child is worthwhile!

Big News!

Anna Owusu, March 30, 2014

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We have exciting news to share! From now on, 100% of your donation goes directly to a student's education! We are continuing to discover and develop more effective means to transfer money directly to Ghana and to our partner schools and we're happy to announce that we no longer require our donors to assist us in paying the transfer fees. We're excited as this indicates that the support of our donors has allowed us to grow and further develop as an organization committed to providing opportunity and hope to students in rural Ghana!.

Guest Post by Aaron Segura

Anna Owusu, February 19, 2014

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Education is something that I have taken for granted. I hate saying it and will only admit to it under the guise of a blog post, but I did not use to take my education seriously. My mind set has since changed; my education is the single most important and fulfilling part of my life right now. It took a period of failure, trial and error, and reflection for me to realize this and what is possibly the most hard to admit (and something that makes me take a step back and be truly grateful for what I have) is that I was able to simply 'not care' about school for a period of time and several years later, be a thriving college student receiving a fantastic education.

It goes without saying that many people who grow up in the United States, like myself, are extremely fortunate to have access to a free education; even more, to be required by law (until a certain age, at least) to attend! On the days that I woke up on 'the wrong side of the bed', whether or not I wanted to go to school I knew there was a bus waiting for me a stone’s throw away and a mother more than willing to take me to school if I over-slept. In developing countries such as Ghana, this often is not the reality. A school bus might not exist; the walk to school might be ten miles; a quality education might be too expensive to afford for the family of two parents working all day to provide the bare minimum. The very basic things I use to take for granted (access to a quality free education, transportation to and from school, being able to attend college even though my mother couldn't entirely afford it) are things that some only dream about. Although I no longer see school as a mundane seven hour sequence of teachers telling me things I ought to know, and instead value every assignment and bit of information I learn; I see it as extremely important to reflect on how fortunate I am to have an education and to recognize that a significant chunk of the world does not share my benefit.

Exciting News!

Anna Owusu, January 21, 2014

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We wanted to share some exciting news! We are removing the 3% nKoso operating fee from every student's total budget. Fantastic! Why is this great news? It means that 100% of your donation to a student is now going directly toward their education.

We've been working hard over the past year to find the most effective and efficient ways to take care of business on our end and we no longer feel that we need to include an operating fee to each student's budget. nKoso exists in large part to the wonderful community of donors that work with us, and every penny of your donations should be going where they will create the greatest impact! We hope that you'll share in the good news and success with us!

MEET FELIX: A policeman in the making!

Sylvester Owusu, January 06, 2014

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I had the pleasure of speaking with Felix's uncle (who is also his guardian) recently. I have begun reaching out directly to the families of nKoso students and was pleased to speak with Felix's uncle.

He shared with me that Felix's education was initially disrupted due to lack of familial support after the death of his mother. He was living in a very rural area where his education was not made a priority. At the age of 13 Felix should be in the 8th grade, but he is currently in the 5th grade. 

His uncle, a man who believes in education, took it upon himself to care for and ensure that Felix receives a proper education. He brought Felix to Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana and enrolled him at St. Cecilia Educational Centre. He was not sure how he would be able to afford the cost but took the responsibility regardless. Luckily our partnership with St. Cecilia connected us to Felix, and his uncle has expressed much gratitude to nKoso and all those that have helped make Felix's education a guarantee!

Felix is a bright, young student who likes learning English and hopes to be a police officer one day. His uncle is hopeful that he can provide a more sustainable future for Felix and works hard to support his education. We were able to successfully raise funds for Felix's education in the 2013-2014 and are now working to raise funds for the 2014-2015 school year.

I personally believe that Felix now has a future and is receiving a quality education. His hope of becoming a police officer is in progress to becoming a reality. After hanging up the phone with Felix's uncle, I paused for a moment and again realized how significant what we're doing is for these young kids and families. We are bring hope, empowerment, and support. I think that is one of the best gifts we have to offer.

BabyShakes: Go on and get some!

Anna Owusu, December 12, 2013

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BabyShakes! Just about the cutest thing ever. If you haven't checked out the merchandise for BabyShakes, get your buns over to BabyShakes and peruse their children's clothing line inspired by Shakespeare. It's freaking ADORABLE. We were so excited when BabyShakes wanted to collaborate with nKoso and design a special little line that donates 25% of proceeds toward providing a quality education for students with nKoso. It's a amazing people like Kirsten and Charlie that recognize the good they can do while pursuing something that they truly enjoy. I mean, really, how cute and creative is BabyShakes?! They create their own designs and do their own screen printing. I mean, come on. So. Awesome.

We hope that you'll support BabyShakes (especially this holiday season) and not just because they are working with us, but because what they're doing is great. It's awesome to know there are people in this world that want to contribute and make a positive impact. Thanks, Kirsten and Charlie. We love BabyShakes and are so thankful for your hard work and generous spirits!

Nellie Jewelry Designs: Soulful Creations to Adorn Your Lifestyle

Anna Owusu, December 09, 2013

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Talk about soulful! Nellie's jewelry comes straight from her heart and soul. She's beyond creative and always inspiring. She pulls from so many parts of life even when they don't seem to fit together. I've known Nellie since the day she was born. She's my sista from another mistah (yeah I said it), so I know first hand the love and dedication that goes into each piece she creates. She, too generously has given me so many Nellie Jewelry gifts. It's pretty dominant in my jewelry box. It's great because there is something for everyone. But I think what's so amazing about her work is that she knows how to bring two worlds together. Nellie has become really talented at showing that no matter the dissonance, it all fits together. It's full of contradictions and it doesn't always seem to fit or make sense, but somehow it always works. I think it's a perfect depiction of life. Not always what you might expect, but so worth it.

Oh, and did I mention that she donates $5 to nKoso for every piece she sells. Translation: you get really awesome jewelry to give to a loved one (or maybe keep for yourself) and a child gets closer to staying in school...seems like everyone is winning. Nellie is truly a creative, but more than that, she is also an amazing human being. I don't think there's more to say after that....except this: go check out Nellie Jewelry Designs.

Guest Blog by Aaron Segura!

Anna Owusu, December 02, 2013

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Focusing on anything but waking up early enough to make class, hoping that whatever the cafeteria has for lunch is eatable, and surviving the week until Friday can be a pretty arduous task as a student – I know this first hand. But being a student – or really, a human – is about so much more than just worrying about the trivial things is life - is it about transcending the boundaries of 'everyday' and opening yourself to new experiences, as cliché as that might sound. Doing this does not have to be in a drastic way, like traveling to India to live in a rural community in the Himalaya's, but can come from small, gratifying, experiences. Throughout the past several months these are the types of experiences I have had the opportunity to commit myself to by working with nKoso.

Specifically, I have had the opportunity to host my own fundraiser and spread awareness in my immediate community – Clark University - for the work that nKoso does - and something that I truly value and am lucky to have: an education. My experience with nKoso has really been my first for both hosting a fundraiser and raising awareness around not only an issue, but an organization. Here are some brief thoughts and things that I learned a long the way.

What I didn't initially realize about hosting a fund raiser and spreading awareness, is that it causes you to take a stance on an issue and convince others that what you're advocating for is important. This means talking to people you have never met in a 'professional' manner, so to speak, and truly voicing your opinion. This can be difficult. For me, it was a bit uncomfortable at the beginning however, the more I spoke to people and realized how willing to listen and how interested they were in what I was speaking about, the easier it became – a small interaction can go a long way. If you are a student reading this and are interested in hosting a fund raiser, don't hesitate to speak to professors or give a brief presentation of you fundraiser in class – I have learned that people truly do care about people!

Although the above is very much my experience with some of my work with nKoso, I am writing this to say that every experience will likely be wildly different and can be shaped any way that you would like with as much creativity as your heart desires. The big part is taking the initiative to try something outside of the everyday routine.

First nKoso Benefit Dinner!

Anna Owusu, November 25, 2013

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Last weekend on Nov. 16, nKoso teamed up with Stephanie Olinski to throw the first nKoso Benefit Dinner! It was an intimate potluck with around 30 guests. Alex served up drinks at the bar while Ben provided technology for donations to students. The night was a success! There was dinner, dancing, and good conversation. I shared the humble beginnings of nKoso and the impact that we can make when we all work together. We were fundraising for 5 students and were able to fully fund three of them! The remaining two were just dollars away from meeting their goal amount. James helped guests donate to students on laptops and their mobile devices. Innovative technology was hard at work, making donating quick, easy, and safe. Sylvester got the dance floor jumping and it was a party after that!

It was certainly proof that a good time can be used to facilitate a powerful giving experience. We're so lucky and privileged to be in a position to offer a gift to another human being. Mosey over to our Facebook page to check out more pictures from the event!

Abigail is Fully Funded!

Anna Owusu, November 06, 2013

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Abigail is fully funded! I can't tell you how excited and happy I am. Abigail lives at Mercy House, a small orphanage in rural mid-western Ghana. Most of the students accepted by nKoso send only one picture with their application and it is published on their nKoso profile. With the students that we accepted from Mercy House, we were privy to some awesome photos of the students in their home. We got to see them laughing and having fun in more candid displays. They were all adorable, but for some reason Abigail stood out. She was always smiling and seemingly cheerful! I know every nKoso student by name and face. They are all special children who have the capacity to touch and warm a heart. For whatever reason, Abigail touched mine. She has the biggest smile and it seems that despite a difficult start to life, she has a vibrant and resilient spirit. I thought that she would be fully funded quickly and I was disappointed that she hung around on the website for as long as she did. But today was her day! I'm so glad that eight other individuals felt inclined to make a difference in supporting Abigail! Thanks to all who helped her move from a public school and into an affordable private school where she'll receive a quality education. Woot woot for Abigail and education!!

Some insights shared during our live discussion last night! Thank you all.

Sylvester Owusu, October 09, 2013

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nKoso: Education allows the pursuit of human rights. In what ways do you believe that education empowers children? Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights below.

"I believe it allows growth and development in children by strengthening their individual capabilities!" -- Michelle Bair

"It empowers them to become better people in the future , empowers new ideas, new inventions, new cures and new people."-- Valentina Rivera

nKoso: Absolutely, Valentina Rivera! These fundamentals are lacking in developing countries. Educated children will grow and contribute to the betterment of their country and also the world.

"I believe that it is important for children be educated about various information, but I think education is also very important for the social aspect side of things. Education centers allow for children so have social stimulant which allows for them to learn the tools for building relationships. There are so many tools we learn! I have learned how to be organized, how to treat others, studying techniques, and so much more!" -- Dilan Clements

"Education empowers children grow to reach their highest potential as an individual. It is a right that every child should be able to have."--Blair Whitney

nKoso: Blair Whitney, we so completely agree. No one should be denied the right to an education simply because of the condition that they were born into.

"I believe education empowers children of the world because eventually they will become leaders of all countries and need positive communication skills (developed through early education) to create a healthy and happy environment for all. Thank you for opening this conversation up!!"-- Eleanor Whitcomb

"Education opens up doors that would otherwise be closed. Thus, it empowers!" -- Daniel Debski

"Education is to the mind as phyical exercise is to the body. Education allows one to move through life with reason and understanding." -- Shelly and Boo Blodgett

"Education will enable children to make wiser choices when opportunities arise." -- Renee Mitchko-Benedetti

nKoso: Beautiful Renee! We have to be able to show up and have the skills to take advantage of opportunities when they present in our lives!

"In a world where education is poo-pooed by those who can most afford it, we have a DUTY to provide it to those who are ceaselessly seeking it, who want to learn, who have minds that can be opened. As citizens of the world and the universe (and adults who can afford to provide educational resources, whether they be financial, emotional or spiritual) we have a responsibility to work as hard as we can to reward those who seek to learn with the richest reward imaginable - the capacity for critical reasoning." -- Mary Grace

"Education is simply the cure for IGNORANCE. As it has been once said, "Ignorance is bliss". I hold these truths to be self evident as education opens doors to understanding and ultimately allows one to be receptive to constructive and destructive criticism. By all means, it is an enabler of critical and complex thinking." -- Professor Cornelius Heck

"Education empowers children by giving them the skills and confidence to become active members in their community. It is also key to better jobs and wages and health awareness. Education is vital to an individuals quality of life." -- Alicia Hanafy

nKoso: Education helps promote health, social development, and future economic opportunities. How has education impacted your own lives?

"The most important thing that I have learned in my education is how to critically dismantle an argument and asses the logic of each individual part, as well as the whole. It affects every aspect of my life, from deciding which groceries to purchase to developing long term financial goals to assessing the merits of different arguments put forth by our leaders. What is the most important thing to teach a child? HOW TO QUESTION" -- Mary Grace

"Education has changed my view of the planet by opening me up to the periphery of our world to the aspects of culture and human nature that are overlooked in popular media and ignored in place of ignorance. Without education I would not have as great an understanding for my place in the world or what I want to do with my life. Education gives hope which is empowerment." --Aaron Francisco Segura

nKoso: Through education we can address gender equality. Tell us what education of a girl means to you!

"As the saying goes, When you educate a woman you educate a woman. Educated girls will help break the cycle of povert. Girls with education will most likely get jobs, earn their own income, plan thier families well and seek education for thier childre. Educated girls learn to depend on themselves." -- Gloria Grabski

"Education of the female gender is foundational to core nucleus of society. One must understand the wound of a mother/woman bears the burden of future generations, which directly relates to the molding of the following: thoughts, actions, reactions, feelings, and emotions. In essence, without WOman...there will be no MAN as EDUCATION starts in the WOMB." -- Professor Cornelius Heck

"Women with an education in parts of Africa are less likely to contract HIV/AIDS and have smaller and healthier families." -- Philomena Asare

"As a proud feminist, I would say that educating women empowers all people. Women who are educated are less likely to submit to patriarchal rule and more likely to demand equal rights for men and women. They are more likely to raise their children to value education and the potential contributory value of every person in a community. They have higher earning capacity, a greater sense of self-worth and provide wonderful role models for younger girls or women. No society that stifles 51% of its thinkers can hope to rise to power in the modern world." -- Mary Grace

"Well said Mary Grace! I agree! I also want to address the importance of physical education and recreational sports for girls. Taking the time to teach a girl how to throw a ball or swing a bat is important in educating females about fitness, health and the concept of teamwork. The concept of teamwork introduced at a young age for girls through sports is a lesson they will use throughout their entire life." -- Eleanor Whitcomb

"Education for a female is as good as gold. It allows her to be as savvy, witty, knowledgeable as her male counter part. She can be equally as financially successful as a male can with the proper education. Little girls are growing up and becoming business owners, CEO's , Marketing moguls, etc... It is especially important for young females in countries that don't place emphasis on women's rights and opinions. A proper education will put enough weapons in the arsenal to combat oppression, poverty, and gender inequality. Education makes it a level playing field." --Jiovany Arroyo

THANK YOU ALL

MEET ABIGAIL!

Sylvester Owusu, October 03, 2013

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Greetings!

At nKoso we committed to funding education at an affordable private school for six orphan students. We are thrilled to announce that 5 of them are fully funded. This week we are featuring Abigail, a ten year old 2nd grader. Abigail's parents are divorced and not able to care for Abigail. A relative brought her to live at a small orphanage. The caretaker believes that education is important and is doing all she can to create brighter futures for the children she cares for. Abigail is a funny student who enjoys learning math and hopes to be a teacher. She likes playing football (soccer) in her free time.

For $432 we can make a quality education possible, bringing with it a brighter future. Abigail's tuition fee includes the cost to attend school ($154) as well the cost for text books/stationary ($42), exercise books ($8), school uniform with footwear ($50), school lunch/bus transportation ($166) cost for the year. Her guardian's compassion and commitment to the needy children of her village is inspiring. Visit Abigail's profile and learn about how you can help her attend school this year.

Interested in helping Abigail without making a contribution? Contact Anna Owusu at anna@nkoso.org to learn other ways to support quality education for our students.

Quality Education for All!

Sylvester & Anna Owusu

FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL AT YESU MMO

Sylvester Owusu, September 17, 2013

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The whole purpose of education is to turn mirrors into windows.
~Sydney J. Harris

YESU MMO GRADUATION 2013

Sylvester Owusu, September 01, 2013

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You are educated. Your certification is in your degree. You may think of it as the ticket to the good life. Let me ask you to think of an alternative. Think of it as your ticket to change the world.

Tom Brokaw

nKoso Adjustment

Anna Owusu, August 15, 2013

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You may have noticed that we included a Western Union transfer fee as part of the budget for each of our students. As a startup non-profit organization we were not sure the most cost effective way to transfer funds internationally and Western Union seemed like the best option at the time. We've found that this is not the case.

We thought transferring each child's tuition individually was necessary to show our donors exactly where their funds were. However, we've found that providing an official school receipt with the student's name and year as well as a signed affidavit from the school and family confirming the successful payment is suffice evidence. Further, we believe it's most important that we use our donor's funds in a way that will create the highest impact in the communities we work with. Our new strategy allows us to transfer funds for many students (in our first transfer we sent funds for 13) which is much more cost effective.

On July 4, 2013 we transferred $1,809.00 to St. Cecilia Educational Centre to pay the tuition for the following students:

Ephraim - $126

Felix - $126

Sylvester - $111

Michael - $85

Angela - $159

Latif - $159

Kelvin - $111

Abigail - $126

Elvis - $159

And on 7/31/13 we transferred $685.00 to Sabwill Educational Complex to pay the tuition for the following students:

Enick - $78

Grace - $94

Augustina - $94

Clement - $78

Eggla - $94

Kingsford - $77

Millicent - $77

Gregory - $95

Enick, Grace, and Augustina originally each had a $10 Western Union transfer fee included in their budget.

The transfer fees for the above two transfers cost $46.13 and $45, respectively, or about $5.36 per student. Going this route allowed us to save $28.77 which we rounded to $29 and applied to the following student to complete add to contribute to her education goal:

Comfort

For Comfort you will notice a donor called 'nKoso Adjustment' has been added for this amount. Going forward we will not include any transfer fee into the student's goal and will handle the fees from our operating budget. Thank you again for all your support and please do not hesitate to contact us at support@nkoso.org if you have any questions/concerns.

Nissi Care Orphanage

Anna Owusu, July 29, 2013

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Mrs. Grace Ntow-Darko is a humanitarian who believes in education. A lady pastor in Dormaa Ahenkro, she has spent the last seven years committed to caring for the most vulnerable children in her community. Using her financial resources, her husband’s pension, and her generous heart, she has taken in children who's parents have passed away, become ill or can no longer provide for them. Additionally she helps needy families provide food, clothing, and other necessities to their children. Currently she is caring for a total of 23 young people.

Mrs. Grace approached nKoso to help her provide a better education for the children she cares for. nKoso has accepted 6 of these young students for tuition assistance. They are currently attending public schools but with your help will be enrolled at Yesu Mmo, one of our partner schools in the fall of 2013. At Yesu Mmo they will receive a quality, primary education. The budgets for these students is larger than those of other student's education being funded on nKoso because we are helping Mrs. Grace with other educational expenses like uniform, text books, lunch and bus transportation. Please join with us in providing education for Patricia, Frank, Comfort, Jephtha, Abigail Y., and Abigail G. at Yesu Mmo!

Petty Trading and Peasant Farming

Anna Owusu, July 23, 2013

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Many, if not most of our student's families earn a living through petty trading and/or peasant farming.

Peasant farming is just what is sounds like. It's small scale farming on a small scale and may include the raising of animals. Often families grow their own food to feed their families and what is left over is sold at a market or on the side of the street. Subsistence farming like this is one of the biggest economic activities in West Africa. There is currently a lot of advocacy in Ghana to improve the farming conditions of the rural poor in an attempt to create more sustainable food sources and alleviate poverty, especially among woman farmers.

Petty trading is also a large and well known economic activity in West African countries. People will sell anything that they are able to access. Many women will prepare and sell food to people as they pass by on the street. Additionally, you can find various vegetables and foods for sale in small markets and on the street. People, especially women sew and dye clothing as well as sell any crafts they have made. Typically income made from this type of work is "hand in mouth" or enough to feed their families. They live day to day based on their income and rarely have much left over for other expenses.

Meet nKoso: Stephen Asare

Anna Owusu, July 16, 2013

Stephen

Meet Stephen, devoted staff member!

Stephen Asare studied electronic engineering and owns a computer center, where members of the community can come use computers in Dormaa Ahenkro. He helps community members design various types of documents and make copies. Growing up in West Africa he encountered a number of roadblocks that were difficult for him to overcome in his schooling. Now he feels that he is in a position to use his resources and energy to help the young people in the community so that they may not face some of the challenges he experienced. nKoso wouldn't exist without Stephen's hard work and dedication. He works directly with our school partners, students, and their families to ensure that all students are educated!

Ampe

Anna Owusu, July 02, 2013

Ampe

You may have noticed that some of our students report that they like playing Ampe. Ampe is a traditional children's game played by primarily young girls in Ghana and it looks pretty intense. It can be played with two individual players or two teams, identified as "Ohyiwa" and "Opare". It's kind of like rock, paper, scissors (but not really) and you use your feet. If you don't know the rules, you'd be completely at a loss for what's happening! The ohyiwa team scores a point if their left leg meets the right leg or right leg meets the left leg of opare team member. Opare scores a point if their left leg meets the left leg or their right leg meets the right leg of the ohyiwa team member. The first team to 10 points wins! One team member for each team competes at a time. The game begins with singing, jumping, and clapping. When a player lands they each put one leg forward. The pattern of legs as described above will determine the winner. May sound simple, but when played rapid fire and with a few skills and strategies picked up over time, it seems a wee bit intense.

Check out this youtube video especially around :47 and again at 2:34 minutes in! I don't think I could hang with these girls. They're all business!

Image courtesy of http://nborowick.wordpress.com

nKoso Adjustment

Ben Blodgett, June 18, 2013

Nkoso_adjustment

You may have noticed that we included a Western Union transfer fee as part of the budget for each of our students. As a startup non-profit organization we were not sure the most cost effective way to transfer funds internationally and Western Union seemed like the best option at the time. We've found that this is not the case.

We thought transferring each child's tuition individually was necessary to show our donors exactly where their funds were. However, we've found that providing an official school receipt with the student's name and year as well as a signed affidavit from the school and family confirming the successful payment is suffice evidence. Further, we believe it's most important that we use our donor's funds in a way that will create the highest impact in the communities we work with. Our new strategy allows us to transfer funds for many students (in our first transfer we sent funds for 13) which is much more cost effective.

On, June 7, 2013 we transferred $2054.00 to Yesu MMO to pay the following students tuition:

Vera - $158.00

Matilda - $158.00

Beatrice - $158.00

Fauzia - $158.00

Samuella - $158.00

Bridget - $158.00

Gifty - $158.00

Kelvin - $158.00

Lawrencia - $158.00

Falida - $158.00

Enock - $158.00

Samuel - $158.00

Kestin - $158.00

This transfer cost a total of $52.35, or approximately $4.02 per student. Going this route allowed us to save $77.74 which we rounded to $80 and applied to the following students to complete their goal:

Lawren - $18.00

Clement - $55.00

Eggla - $7.00

For these student's you will notice a donor called 'nKoso Adjustment' has been added for these amounts. We will continue to do this with all students who had the $10.00 Western Union fee added into their budget.

Going forward we will not include any transfer fee into the student's goal and will handle the fees from our operating budget. Thank you again for all your support and please do not hesitate to contact us at support@nkoso.org if you have any questions/concerns.

Happy Father's Day!

Anna Owusu, June 16, 2013

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Happy, Happy Father's Day to all the wonderful fathers, grandfathers and other father figures out there who are touching lives. I've got a great father who has always worked hard to provide for my brothers and myself, but he also made sure to take time to connect with each of us. Father's Day always gives me pause to remember the incredible job that he has done being a dad and remind myself how grateful I am for having such a present father.

One of my favorite parts of nKoso is learning about the stories of the students, but so many of them have tales of absent family members and especially fathers. It's disheartening to reflect on how many young people grow up all over the world without fathers. I can't imagine the challenges of growing up without a dad, as mine has been such an integral part of who I have become. So, on Father's Day this year, I hope we all give a shout out to not only the awesome fathers, but the incredible people that are raising the children of the world. And in the absence of so many fathers, I hope we consider what we can do for the children of our increasingly global village.

Thanks, Boo (my dad), Grandpa and all the men that came before me that made my life of opportunity possible. I wouldn't be where I am today without the sacrifice and hard work of the older generations!

Our 2 Month Anniversary!

Anna Owusu, June 15, 2013

It's been 2 months since our launch. Only one word: AMAZING. The generosity has been astounding The feedback has been wonderfully helpful. I couldn't help marveling at the sheer power manifested in the past couple of months; sheer life changing power. What we have been able to do together is remarkable to say the least. Sylvester and I were speaking the night after our launch; just taking it all in. It is incredible to me that we were able to fund education for one year for 8 students in mere hours. Meanwhile, families are working hard to feed their families, let alone pay a school fee. What an impact to alleviate that burden and partner with families in educating their children. It absolutely blows my mind that a little effort on our end here, in the United States, can release people from some hardship. I believe that everyone needs and wants to hear that they matter, that they are important, and that they are not forgotten. What a powerful message to offer. It's really about more than education. It's about reminding us that we all are important and we all experience a shared humanity. Let's celebrate each other and unite to continue spreading a message of compassion and validation. We're all of the same value and it serves the world for us to remember and live as such.

Why Donate With nKoso?

Sylvester Owusu, June 10, 2013

Connect with a student!

There's something about giving to someone you can connect with. Someone you can pick to donate to; perhaps because you like their story, their picture or their name. A connection you alone can explain.

We create that for you at nKoso. We have enhanced the experience of donating to a cause. You are not donating money to just some kid out there, but rather you are funding tuition costs for a student or students of your choice. It doesn't stop there! We take you with us by utilizing our 100% transparency 100% of the time adventure. You will discover that your contribution is going where it is intended to go. You can follow it every step of the way through screenshots of our transactions and receipt of payment for your student on the student's profile. We will keep you up to date with the student's advancement in school and even an opportunity to fund toward their education the following year.

Fund a student today and experience the joy of giving!

Those pesky money transfer fees

Sylvester Owusu, May 26, 2013

You may have noticed that there is a $10 Western Union transfer fee included in the tuition goal for students and you may be thinking that $10 is a little steep to send a tuition payment to a student. We agree, and are hoping to find a more cost effective way to transfer money. We are in hot pursuit of some new ideas. Hopefully we’ll be back sharing the good news with you soon!

Why we store credit card information

Ben Blodgett, May 21, 2013

Our donors frequently ask us why we store credit card information automatically. I wrote this post to help explain why we feel it is the right way to do things.

We only store credit cards for logged in users

It's a common misconception at nKoso that we automatically store credit card information for every donation. This is not the case. The only way we save your credit card information is if you are registered and logged in to your account. We understand some people prefer to donate anonymously. If you simply do not create an account, your credit card information will exist only for the duration of the transaction.

We believe donating should be easy

At nKoso we believe that donating to a good cause should be seamless. When a donor logs in to their account to make donations, we automatically store their credit card information so it takes less time to donate. This way when a donor wants to contribute to additional students (or additional years for the same student) they simply have to log in and enter the amount they wish to contribute.

Security is extremely important to us

Every time you enter credit card information into a website you risk becoming a victim of fraud. We do lots of things to eliminate attacks on your personal information. First, we force every request through SSL so attackers cannot intercept unencrypted data. When you enter your credit card information we encrypt it using AES-256, and send it securely to another server where it will simply be referenced for all future transactions. Using this approach only gives attackers 1 chance to intercept your information (after that it is never sent again, simply referenced).

Transparency is the way.

Sylvester Owusu, May 13, 2013

Transparency in the non profit field is a must. Contributing to a cause is a gift for everyone involved. Donors should be a part of the entire process. Why donate to an organization if you don't know what your money is being used for? This is a concern that many people share and it's a reasonable issue to raise. People usually donate because they want to connect to the cause. Something about the cause resonates with them and speaks to them on another level. Being a part of the process, allows one to connect in another way. It's about more than throwing some money at a situation.

Transparency facilitates a deeper connection. Donors deserve to know where their money is going. We created nKoso to be fully transparent, providing multiple checkpoints along the funding process that allow you to not only connect with a student, but be a part of the process from your contribution until it reaches the school as well as access student updates throughout the year. nKoso is 100% transparent, 100% of the time. Your trust is very important to us and we know that transparency is important to you. Follow the students, follow your contribution and be a part of the process. Enjoy the positive reach that you're creating in the world.

POWER OF OPPORTUNITY

Sylvester Owusu, May 08, 2013

Why_education

"My mother said that I must always be intolerant of ignorance, but understanding of illiteracy. That some people, unable to go to school were more educated and more intelligent than college professors."--Maya Angelou

There are children in the world that don't have the opportunity to enhance their living situation and the world isn't given a chance to be impacted by these people.

According to UNESCO Institute for Statistics (UIS), approximately 32.2 million students in primary schools were held back a grade in 2010, and 31.2 million dropped out of school. These students may not have the opportunity to return to school again.

The Global Eduction Digest identifies the greatest challenges to completing primary school are found in the following three regions:

1.) Sub-Saharan Africa (42% of students leave school early. About one in six will leave before 2nd grade.)

2.) South and West Asia (out of every 100 students who begin primarly school, 33 will leave before completing the final grade.)

3.) Latin America and the Caribbean (17% of students leave school before they have complted their primary education.)

Furthermore, children living in a rural communities are two times more likely to not be in school than children from urban areas. Children from the poorest 20% of the population are four times less likely to be in school than the wealthiest 20 percent. In low-income, developing countries, every additional year of education can increase a person’s future income by an average of 10 percent.

Education truly improves communities; to reach one child is worthwhile. Fund education for a student with nKoso today!

Sources: UNESCO, DOSOMETHING.ORG

Education in Ghana

Sylvester Owusu, May 02, 2013

Ghana uses what is known as a 6-3-4-4 education system. Students attend 6 years of primary school, followed by 3 threes of Junior High School, and if accepted 4 years of Senior High School and 4 years of University.

English is the official language in Ghana and while students may study in a native language for the first three years of school, most instruction and classroom materials are in English as they progress. However, students will continue to study a native language as well as French until they reach 9th grade.

Following completion of Junior High School, students have to pass the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) before they can apply for Senior High School.

Sabwill Educational Complex

Anna Owusu, April 24, 2013

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Sabwill Educational Complex is a basic educational institution consisting of Pre-School, Preparatory and Junior High School. It is located in the Brong Ahafo region of mid-western Ghana in a small, rural village called Wamanafo.

The school was established in 1995 with only five (5) pupils in an uncompleted house by Pastor Martin Asamoah and the late Mr Simon Adomah. The establishment was created to help solve the problem of children travelling to different towns for better schooling. The school was originally named Manasseh Preparatory School. Four (4) years later, it was sold to Pastor Williams Sabi, the current proprietor of the school. The name of the school was officially changed to Precious Agape School, but has since changed again to Sabwill Educational Complex.

Our Mission:

To give quality and affordable education to students.

To bring Christian values to our community.

To create hope through education.

Our Credits:

The school is classified as the best school in our community and among the best in the district in terms of BECE performance and sports.

The good performances of the past students who are in their second cycle of education attest to the school’s effort.

Most of our past students have been enrolled in the tertiary education in the nation.

Our Problems:

Poor paying of school fees by the parents

Little or no assistance from the government that could enhance children education.

Why Donate With nKoso?

Sylvester Owusu, April 23, 2013

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School fees are costly

Someone may ask "why not target the root causes of children who are not attending school?" Some may believe that it's not enough to put students in the classroom by paying school tuition. They may point out that "students can't learn if there aren't places to sit, books to study from, food to eat, toilet facilities to use, or consistent teacher presence". Agreed! Even then there’s still a cost that makes it difficult for families in developing countries to send children to school. A simple uniform can be costly.

nKoso only work with schools that can provide necessary resources to students.

The problems in public education systems of developing countries are chronic. This is why nKoso's approach of addressing the problem is unique and also effective. nKoso believes that by working with already established low fee private schools, we can provide families and children who need tuition assistance the possibility to attend school and advance by creating an opportunity for themselves and their communities. These children are the future leaders of their communities and countries; the people who could work to improve those chronic issues plaguing the public education system.

Isn't this also a solution to the root causes of the problems?

Every child deserves access to quality education, regardless of their financial situation. They deserve to dream, to feel empowered and to bring change to their families and their communities. nKoso is doing our part. Join us and bring hope to a child's life by funding their education.

"Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world." Nelson Mandela

THE LIGHTS ARE ON!

Sylvester Owusu, April 15, 2013

We're doing it and we're doing it together. nKoso is live and ready for action!

It's been a wild ride full of twists and turns, but we're happy to be inviting you to join us in funding education for students in developing countries through need-based scholarships!

nKoso is a variation of the Twi (a native Ghanaian language) word "nkɔsoɔ", meaning advancement. At nKoso we believe that every child has the right to a quality education and opportunities to advance their life situation. Our mission is to pay tuition for all children who otherwise cannot afford a quality primary education. Today, there are over 130 million school-age kids that are not attending school. In many developing countries the educational need far exceeds the available resources of public schools. Private low-fee schools are popular alternatives, however many families cannot afford to pay the fees. 2.7 billion people live on under $2 per day.

The project started in November 2012 when we (Anna and Sylvester Owusu) returned from a trip to Ghana. We shared the hardships that students in developing areas of Africa endure with a number of our friends and family members. We saw firsthand the struggles of families to educate their children. The efforts we made in the weeks following our trip raised enough money for 14 students to attend a safe, low-fee private school for 1 year.

We realized the potential impact was far larger, especially with the budding crowdfunding technology. Crowdfunding is most popularly known through Kickstarter, who brings multiple donors together to collectively fund independent projects. We re-engineered this technology for nKoso - the first crowdfunding platform for tuition assistance in developing areas. nKoso partners with the financial power of the crowd to fund educational tuition for students whose families cannot afford it. Using our extensive screening process we ensure that the students we fund need the support and that our partner schools are recognized by the country's government and are providing a quality education.

How it Works:

nKoso partners with low-fee private schools to help us identify students in need. These students apply for tuition assistance and are selected based on their need. We fundraise the cost of tuition for the students at www.nkoso.org. Donors can visit the site and choose which student’s education they would like to contribute to and the amount they would like to contribute. Once the total goal amount has been raised, nKoso pays the student’s tuition directly to the school. We designed nKoso to be fully transparent, so donors can track their donation every step of the way until the funds are paid to the school.

Why Affordable Private Schools?

Sylvester knows firsthand the plight of students in developing countries, as he attended affordable private schools in rural West Africa until he was 12 years old. When we hear ‘private school’ we often think about an educational institution for the elite and the wealthy. We don’t think about private schools being affordable or a model that would serve the poor. In developing countries the problems in the public education systems are chronic and not meeting the educational needs of the masses. The schools are over-crowded and there is a lack of staff accountability.

Countries such as Ghana welcome the private schools because they recognize the benefit for the young students. Affordable private schools charge tuition that is not much higher than the cost of public school. Public schools incur a number of hidden fees such as uniform costs, exam fees, PTA fees, and others. Sometimes these fees are sanctioned and sometimes they are not. Many families would rather pay slightly more for a quality education.

Education empowers a child to create the opportunity to better themselves, their families, and their communities. We will not stop until every child has the financial resources necessary to receive a quality primary education. Be among the first to make a difference to a child and their family. We hope that you'll spread the word to your family and your friends. We may not be able to change the whole world today, but with a small donation, we can change the world of a child and their family. They're waiting for you. Let's unite!

nKoso Team

sources: UNESCO

501(c)3 Status Pending

Anna Owusu, April 14, 2013

So, our 501(c)3 status is still pending, but students can't wait for their education to be funded.

What does this mean?

It means that we are waiting for the IRS to approve our 1023 application for tax exempt status.

What's important about this for you?

As per the IRS until we are approved we can not offer you a tax deduction for your donation, BUT once we are approved past donations become deductible.

What's up with the 1023 application?

We have worked diligently and purposefully on our 1023 application, developing a comprehensive and thorough due diligence process that all partner schools complete. We have sought counsel from a number of nonprofit lawyers and accountants. We have reviewed approved 1023 applications and discussed the content of our applications with our mentors. We feel confident that it is only a matter of time before our tax exempt status is approved and your donations are tax deductible.

After all, you deserve a little break for the good that you're doing.

For more information visit: http://www.irs.gov/Charities-&-Non-Profits/Charitable-Organizations/Contributions-to-Organization-with-IRS-Application-Pending

Pledge Your Support!

Anna Owusu, April 12, 2013

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It's not too late to pledge your support and commit to donating to a student's education.

Send us your selfie with your commitment. We've been overwhelmed with the outpouring of support so far. We hope that you all continue to share the project with your family and friends.

Together we can make a difference in the lives of families and young students.

Ghana Cedi to US Dollar: Your questions answered

Anna Owusu, April 08, 2013

Hey Everybody,

As we get nearer to our launch date we wanted to clarify how we come up with the goal cost to fund a student. Schools in Ghana communicate their tuition cost in Ghanaian currency, the Ghana Cedi (GHC). The cedi is generally worth about half of a US dollar, but the exact rate is constantly changing with the market.

Since we transfer money to Ghana using Western Union, we use their webpage (www.westernunion.com) to convert Ghana Cedi to US dollar and use that US dollar amount to compute the full goal cost of funding a student.

You’re always welcome to reach out if you have any questions. We want all our future donors to feel comfortable and certain of how their money is being donated. We can’t wait to begin working with you on April 15, 2013.

-Anna and Sylvester

nKoso partners with low-fee private schools

Anna Owusu, April 04, 2013

Students in rural areas of developing countries are often at a disadvantage in obtaining an education. While the Ghanaian government provides public schools for children in Ghana, many of them lack resources, are overcrowded and don’t demonstrate staff accountability.

Additionally, families still need to cover the cost of school uniform, exam fees and potentially lunch and transportation costs. If given the choice, parents prefer to send their children to low-fee private schools, a growing trend in developing countries.

While parents may struggle financially to afford such schools, they prefer and are confident in the quality of education that their child is receiving. We believe that assisting children to attend low-fee private schools will help strengthen the individual, their family and their community.

St. Cecilia Educational Centre

Sylvester Owusu, March 31, 2013

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St. Cecilia Educational Centre was founded in September 1994 by Mr. Peter Kwame Amoako. It began as a nursery and has grown to kindergarten, primary school and finally junior high school over the years. Presently, some of the first students to graduate from St. Cecilia’s are in tertiary institutions around the country (Ghana). The mission of St. Cecilia’s is to “train the youth to acquire the necessary basic education for future development.” The school is proud to have achieved the following:

1.) In 2008, the school ranked first out of 84 schools in the Municipal Basic Education Certificate Examination (B.E.C.E).

2.) They have demonstrated outstanding results in games and sports

3.) In one instance, the school represented the municipality in a regional science competition

4.) In 2009, a student of St. Cecilia’s was awarded a scholarship for academic brilliance to continue his studies in one of the most reputed secondary schools in the region.

5.) St. Cecilia Educational Centre has seen students graduate their school and continue on to higher levels of education.

Hear what Mr. Peter Kwame Amoako has to say about nKoso:

Do students at your school have problems affording the tuition? If yes what do you do in those situations?

For the tuition, many parents are unable to pay the fees. The school sometimes has to write it off.

What were your feelings when nKoso first approached you about being a partner?

We were highly happy when nKoso first approached us to be a partner to assist in the education of the youth.

In your opinion is the service provided by nKoso beneficial to the students at your school and your community?

Yes, in our opinion the service being provided will be of great benefit to the students of the school and the community because the beneficiaries would at least be released a little from the burden of paying fees.

What do you like about nKoso?

What I like about nKoso is that it is coming to help the beneficiary students to be able to pay their fees and also to assist them to be in school so as to achieve their aim in life.

The reason you can't fund a student yet

Anna Owusu, March 26, 2013

We are excited about launching our first public round of funding on April 15, 2013. It was a hard decision for us to delay the launch, but we are confident it was the right decision. This is our first time creating a non-profit and we want to ensure that we are going through all the proper steps. It's been a learning experience and we thank everyone who has given us advice and mentorship along the way.

The first five students funded through nKoso were done by our close family and friends in order to work out any of the kinks in our process. We felt okay about doing this with people we are close with, but we want to make sure we are 100% legal before accepting donations from the general public.

The good news, we have officially filed everything we need. We are checking on it daily (literally) and are confident this process will be completed soon. We appreciate your patience and are so touched by all the outreach, support, and feedback.

Thank you!

Anna and Sylvester

Meet One of Our First School Partners: Yesu Mmo

Sylvester Owusu, March 24, 2013

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HISTORY: Yesu Mmo was established on the 10th of February 1998 at Dormaa Ahenkro, Ghana. It was established by Mr & Mrs. Charles Oppong Peprah and was started with a single person on the opening day. The school was established based on the good humanitarian sentiments of the proprietor and his wife. Yesu Mmo is well established in the community due to excellent standards.

MISSION: To train a child with the fear of God and to be academically inclined to take commanding height of our nation.

ACHIEVEMENT: Obtained 100% in the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) for the past 5 years. Won the best school in the municipality in 2008, 2009, 2010, 2012.

Hear what school administrator, Mr. Prince Oppong Peprah thinks about nKoso:

Do students at your school have problems affording the tuition? If yes what do you do in those situations?

Most students have problems in the paying of tuition fees. The school, therefore, grants some of them a discount and sometimes gives them a time frame to pay-up.

What were your feelings when nKoso first approached you about being a partner?

It was a relief when we heard nKoso wanted to partner with us because the burden of some parents not being able to pay their ward's tuition was going to be taken care of.

In your opinion is the service provided by nKoso beneficial to the students at your school and your community?

The service provided by nKoso is very beneficial because most students can now continue their school without thinking much about the tuition fees and other expenses. This also has made it possible for an intense improvement in the academics of the beneficiaries.

What do you like about nKoso?

nKoso has been a very beneficial assistance to the pupils of Yesu Mmo. Due to their assistance program it has made it possible for some of our students to be enjoying the whole school system.

Something to Think About...

Sylvester Owusu, March 23, 2013

“Starving children in Africa are not poor because their consciousness is unaligned with love; they are poor because ours is. A billion people on earth live in “deep poverty”—that is, on less than one dollar and twenty-five cents a day. A billion more live on less than two dollars a day. Yet, this is not an “exception” to the rule that love casts out fear. Quite the opposite, it is a collective lovelessness on the part of the advanced nations of the world that allows us to accept the reality of deep poverty, thus deflecting a miraculous solution that when we collectively make love our bottom line—making humanitarian values rather than short-term economics the organizing principles of human civilization—then the situation will indeed miraculously change.” –Marianne Williamson, The Law of Divine Compensation

What are our responsibilities to the children of the world?

The Gift That Keeps on Giving

Anna Owusu, March 20, 2013

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“Remember that the happiest people are not those getting more, but those giving more.” —H. Jackson Browne, Jr

nKoso truly began on a small scale with my husband and I sharing our experience in Ghana and asking if any of our friends and family would be interested in helping with the tuition of a child. We were overwhelmed with the response. We easily raised enough money for five students and still had people asking us if we were still accepting donations. We were receiving more money than we had students, but were able to identify a few others in need. I had to wonder what was behind such a powerful response from our friends and family. They didn't have a personal connection with these young children or the community or even the country. Some of them were even thanking us for creating the opportunity for them to contribute.

I knew that it felt good to me when we were able to send money to the schools on behalf of these students. And it hit me one day that the response for these students was so powerful because it felt good to our friends and family too. There’s something gratifying about making a difference or doing something kind for someone else. Science is now studying the effects of giving on our experience of being happy. An article in the NY Times titled "Don’t Indulge. Be Happy" written by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton (authors of Happy Money: The Science of Spending), shares a study demonstrating that people who give to others experience happiness more often.

nKoso understands that assisting in tuition assistance for a young student and their family is not only a gift for the family, but for the donor as well. Working on and developing nKoso has created happiness for us and we only hope to share this experience with you.

“I just think that giving a child a chance and sharing what you have with a child is one of the greatest gifts you can give yourself, as well as a child.”—Hillary Clinton

nKoso: Value Driven

Sylvester Owusu, March 18, 2013

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My high school motto was “Whatever hurts my brother hurts me" and we lived by it. Respect, love and care were shared among classmates and faculty in this small but diverse school. About 700 students from all cultures and corners of the world attend St. Benedict’s Prep in Newark, NJ. My experience there has shaped my life greatly. It is there that I saw the greatness in life. It is there that I found this great responsibility in becoming one with the world and not just part of the world. This motto “Whatever hurts my brother hurts me” helped set the stage…

nKoso also has a motto and this motto is embedded in our four values. We operate and live by them. Our values consist firstly of cultural awareness. Every culture is different, therefore we are determined to approach every culture that we encounter with care, love, and respect. Understanding a culture is the first step to understanding the people. We adapt to the culture we are visiting not the other way around.

Another one of our values is accessibility. Yes, we live in the United States and many of those we try to serve are a long way from us, but the world is becoming a global community and it's our moral obligation to support the goodness of our neighbor. There's a saying in Africa that says "it takes a village to raise a child ". nKoso believes that every child deserves access to a quality education. With this belief we've created access points for our donors to connect with students around the globe to help them attend school. We make it so easy and safe that you can enjoy the benefit from your sofa. Contributing to a charity should be easy and safe for everyone.

nKoso is a variation of the Twi (a native Ghanaian language) word "nkɔsoɔ" meaning advancement, another one of our values. Thanks to technology we can connect with anyone anywhere around the world and this is only going to get easier. nKoso is ready to use crowd funding to partner with people like you to help fund tuition and school costs for students who need you the most. We believe that this way their families, their community, and their country will have a chance to advance. A community is strengthened as individuals grow.

Simply, you are giving money to help a cause. You deserve to know where your money is going. nKoso is 100%, transparent 100% of the time. Transparency is very important to us and we know it is important to our donors as well. Honesty goes a long way. Your contributions always go where they are intended to go. We want you to be part of the process, so that you can be comfortable knowing where your money is every step of the way, and enjoying the feelings of giving.

Perspective

Anna Owusu, March 15, 2013

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It was a seven year old who opened my eyes and taught me one of the greatest life lessons. I was in Ghana with my husband, who was born and raised in West Africa. While English is the official language in Ghana, many people in rural communities seemed far more comfortable with their native language. The children were learning English in school, so they were eager to practice it with me. They would come to the road side as I passed by saying hello and asking me how I was. It was easier for me to communicate with children and their limited English than some of the older adults.

My seven year old friend would join me in the afternoons after school. He liked to play with my phone and was especially interested in the camera feature. He loved to take "selfies" and other random items in a room. He proudly showed me his grandfather's new refrigerator, explaining to me that it was an "American fridge". He was so impressed with that refrigerator, but the truth was I had never seen a refrigerator that miniature in someone's kitchen in the United States. I saw that what I often took for granted was something that brought such pride to this young boy. I never thought twice about my fridge. I opened it when I was hungry or thirsty and closed it when I was finished. I realized that it was more than likely that his grandfather was one of the only people within the community that owned a fridge.

One afternoon he was looking through pictures on my phone and asking me about my family. He looked at a picture and asked me if that was my parent's home. I told him it was. He slid to the next picture and asked me if my parents have two cars. I told them that they did. He asked me if I had a car. I told him I did. He looked back at the phone and considered the information. It became painfully apparent to me how aware he was of our lifestyle differences. Seven years old. I felt foolish for "needing" more money in my bank account or a flashier car. I felt silly for "needing" that cute pair of shoes or that beautiful handbag. While it's ok to want those things, I had to reassess what I was "needing" them for.

When I returned home nothing seemed more beautiful than warm, running water. When I flip a switch the light will come on...always. When I am cold I adjust the thermostat. When I'm hot, I turn on the air conditioning or sit in front of a fan. That seven year old boy doesn't have all these conveniences and he doesn't have all the things I "needed", but he always has a smile on his face. He is always laughing and telling jokes and he is always showing kindness to his little sister as she follows him around. He's only seven, but he showed me wisdom far beyond my years. He reminds me to be grateful for every amazing part of my life. And it always feels better to acknowledge all that I have than to focus on all I think that I am lacking. While I couldn't give him all the treasures of an American lifestyle, the least I could offer was tuition assistance, so he could hope and begin to create opportunity for himself.