I have had the pleasure of working with several non-profit organizations over the past decade, both large and small. In my my experience over 10+ years, it is rare to find an organization that is as comprehensive at One School at a Time (OSAT) in its directives.
I had the opportunity to partner with One School at a Time while in the field in Uganda for 2 weeks this summer 2018. From first-hand experience and witnessing directly the work that they do, I can say that OSAT is wonderfully well run with initiatives that deeply consider the real roots of issues that arise with in communities and address the root, rather than just the symptom. It was amazing to hear and see from community members how the work of OSAT has helped to truly make a lasting change and positive difference in their lives. OSAT's work is both extremely efficient, compassionate, transformational and effective. It brings hope and joy to see a small group of truly committed individuals making such a difference in the world.
About five years ago, I heard a presentation about One School at a Time. I was very interested because I had spent 3 years in Kenya, first as a Peace Corps Volunteer teacher and then training new Volunteers. Everything I heard about One School at a Time impressed me. They have been working WITH the people, not just sending them things or giving advice based on their own experience in the developed world. One School at a Time finds out what the people want and how it will work within their own culture. And they work with the same school for the long haul to be sure that the help they offer is useful and effective.
At my school in Kenya, the office had 5 electric typewriters – but only one ribbon. And this is only one small example of what I saw over and over. Well-meaning people donate money to help the people in third world countries. But well–meaning as it is, the donations are often not useful. The local people don’t know how to maintain the gifts, they don’t have access to the supplies that are needed and they don’t have the training to use them.
I have been following One School at a Time since that initial presentation. Since then they have gradually taken on more schools in the same area, encouraging those schools to work together to share best practices and to leverage their influence with the authorities. They now have a group of 6 schools working together to provide better education to 2,500 students. They hope to expand this group to 10 schools and then perhaps start another group of schools to repeat the entire process. It is slow work, but it is more effective than any other aid I have seen going to 3rd world countries.
I have donated to One School for more than five years because I have been consistently impressed with how much they have accomplished and how far they're able to stretch each and every dollar.
Instead of swooping into an African village and dictating what the community must do to receive assistance, One School works with locals to help them develop a school master plan, to engage people of all ages in the surrounding region, and to successfully implement their five-year plan. In addition, One School educates school kids and adults in the USA about how the typical Ugandan school experience differs from ours and offers opportunities for us to help.
One School at a Time is a stellar nonprofit devoted to developing long-lasting solutions.
One School at a Time (One School) was founded because two women -- Bay Roberts and Patty Gilbert -- identified a global community need and accepted the leadership challenge to address it. The needs are as vast and daunting as they are worthy. The overarching need they identified was for an organization dedicated to the idea that all children in Uganda deserve a quality education. One School's guiding principles ensure that each Ugandan school project is poised for enduring, sustainable success. One School also offers programs that fulfill a local community need, by raising awareness among Boulder, Colorado children about cultural differences, poverty, environmental degradation and inequities in the distribution of world resources.
Bay and Patty have inspired a shared vision through the clarity of their idea of what One School can accomplish, and how the Boulder community can be involved in its success. They passionately believe they can make a difference and – through their enthusiasm, and vivid and expressive outreach -- they have forged a unity of purpose around the One School’s mission. One School has made a huge difference in the educational lives of Ugandan children, and in the cultural awareness of our own Boulder children. Bay and Patty have also challenged traditional development processes by working directly with carefully vetted schools, and employing a trusted and capable project manager to ensure accountability. Most importantly, instead of sending money, i.e. “building and buying stuff,” One School’s strategy focuses on the needs of the whole school: governance, security, strategic long-term planning, financial management, community and parent involvement, teacher development and sustainable infrastructure development.
As leaders, Bay and Patty know that they can’t do it alone. They have enabled others to act by fostering collaboration and strengthening others. For example, a highly motivated fifth grader at Mesa Elementary was moved to help One School following one of Bay’s slide shows. At Bay’s encouragement to get involved with One School, he raised $2,500 from local businesses, and presented the check to Bay at his school. At 12 years of age, Logan Abbott was the youngest person appointed to One School’s Board of Directors. Since 2010, the One School fund raiser has become a tradition embraced by all Mesa Elementary fifth graders.
That is just one of the many ways Bay and Patty have encouraged the hearts of their supporters. As a Returned Peace Corps Volunteer who spent 2 ½ years doing development work in West Africa, I am greatly impressed by what Bay and Patty have accomplished through One School in both Uganda and Boulder.
Jody, thank you for your service on the One School board! You taught us alot about the challenges of creating sustainable change on the ground and we are grateful!
I worked on the current One School at a Time website and really enjoyed getting to know this great organization. Having served overseas before I was most impressed by One School's focus on local development and growth. It's not just about dumping a ton of money and walking away, but on equipping and empowering people to take care of themselves- teaching and training them. That's our biggest contribution by far. Way to go!
if you want to make a difference in a truly heartfelt way this is it! One School does amazing things for children in Uganda! Education is key to creating a better world for all of us and the dollars you donate go directly to making this happen!
The thing that impressed me most about this non-profit is that it started by a few women who felt passionately about something and DID something about it. It is great to be able to donate locally and see it's impact around the world. I love that they are very intentional about giving only when they feel the local community in Uganda is going to be able to sustain it, and keep growing from the "hand up" not a "hand out". I also love that it impacts young WOMEN and their families and helps them stay in school. I've learned a lot in a short time knowing them and hope to continue to support them as much as possible in the future.
Thank you so much for commenting on One School at a Time. We are so passionate about our work and believe strongly that all children, regardless of race, economic status and gender deserve access to a quality education. Bay, Patty and Sari
I gave One School just $12.50, and it gave every single kid in the Uganda school lunch for a day! The kids almost never have lunch. One School normally puts donations into helping rebuild schools in Uganda. It's a place where even a ten-year old like Me can make a difference! :}
Hi Everybody! My name is Kierra Peterson. I'm in my junior year of high school at The Watershed School, in Boulder, CO. This year I am doing an independent study with One School at a Time. Even since I heard about One School I have been impressed with how they always put their words into action. As an example, when I first saw a One School presentation in 2010 they were talking about how a few of their goals were to raise money for and help install a water system, as well as, build more classrooms at Kukanga School in Uganda, Africa. Today, Kukanga School has both of those things, and more services (like latrines, more book shelves, etc.) are being added. All of the people involved in One School at a Time are genuinely kind, caring, intelligent and dedicated. The way I see it, One School at a Time is a community working in partnership with school communities, in Africa, toward extremely important, worthwhile and achievable goals. I'm so proud to be a part of this organization, and I look forward to continuing to work with them.
I am so inspired by One School at a Time. There are so many charities and NGO's that it's hard to find something that feels like you're touching someone in another culture. One School at a Time is small in administration, and huge-hearted in scope. I look specifically for organizations where all of my donation goes to the chidren or the project, not to the administration of it. One School at a Time has given 100% of my donations where they are most needed. They care so deeply for the children they are working for. I full-heartedly endorse them and wish I had unlimited funds to give.
My name is Moses Musaazi, the innovator of the bricks used by One School at A Time (OSAAT).
My experience is working, as technical consultant to OSAAT, is their love to use a technology that works well and putting in place all that has been designed and agreed upon.
The value for money is 100%.
Dr. Moses Musaazi is an engineering professor at Maakerere University in Kampala, Uganda. He has developed a company called Technology for Tomorrow which provides simple, practical and culturally appropriate technologies to address African issues. One School at a Time uses his pressed earth brick technology for all of our classroom and cistern construction projects. The bricks are strong, do not require as much cement and because they do not need to be fired, trees are saved. We are honored to be working with Moses.
I am so passionate about volunteering and contributing to the program, because it has such a strong track record of highly functioning, well-managed schools, and is different than all others I’ve encountered. Instead of going into a community and dictating what its needs are, One School At A Time listens to the community first. The organization has learned that collaborations with schools, teachers, parents in their communities are incredibly effective. Also, every completed school project assists the next one, building a support network of successful school in the region.
I became familiar with One School at a time several years ago when they were first beginning. Their ojective of trying to help small areas of Africa with an educational approach of helping with schooling seemed a much more worthwhile cause than just pumping donation money into some large highly administrative major charity. I love seeing where my money goes and One School at a Time provides this. Over the years I have seen this organization slowly grow, not in addministrative size, but in taking on additional educational help for small African comunities. Their web site truly reflects what they do and try to accomplish. I see no better place for one to support childrens' educational help in impoverished Ugandan communities.
One School at a Time continues to work on successful projects in Uganda because they are small and focused on building active ongoing partnerships. Their current partner school, the Kukanga Primary School, is an example. One School is working hard to help Kukanga by supporting and learning from the school community. This strategy is evolving based on experiences with other school partnerships in Uganda. I visited Kukanga in 2009 and was impressed with how dedicated the teachers, students, and administration there was to improving their school with or without outside help. This is critical. One School provides small amounts of assistance exactly where it is needed.
I had the pleasure of visiting Uganda to volunteer for One School at a Time as a photographer. This NGO is exceptional in what they have been able to accomplish with a low level of funding. Their recently completed projects with their Kyamalinga partner school in Uganda is exemplary in its use of a few financial resources along with grassroots community commitment and involvement. This strategy is the key to this kind of project because without community buy-in, there is no sustainability. One School is now moving towards some new partners and I'm hopeful that they can generate the resources to accomplish the same successes as at Ky.
What differentiates One School at a Time is their patience in finding schools that are both in need and willing to put in the work - from community to administration - to make real changes and improvements. One School at a Time works directly with the communities, empowering them and giving them ownership of their school improvement projects. Bay, Patty and Sari's drive to improve lives is evident in their hard work and success.
I have had the pleasure of seeing One School At a Time grow substantially. They take the time to target schools that they know they could bring real benefit and change to. One School At a Time makes a point of giving the schools and school communities a lot of the responsibility of building and growing their projects. This means they are not just handing out donations, but helping to strengthen and shape in-need communities. One of the best programs they have put together, is an initiative to help teachers learn ways to teach with available resources. What better way to change the lives of children, than to help teachers? They are wonderful at hearing and receiving advice and feedback from board members, experts, and Ugandan staff and teachers.
Money is well-used. Projects are well-conceived and strategized, with tremenous care taken to ensure local involvement and local community ownership, so projects can enjoy long-term success...a very smart, savvy, super organization!
The people running One School at a Time work so hard to make sure that they make a difference for the kids and that progress is actually happening in their schools. They have also worked at raising awareness on this of the ocean through developing relationships with children in sister schools in Colorado. I know this through having been peripherally involved over the past three years, as a donor, and as volunteer at one sister school in Colorado, raising funds, organizing activities, and helping with letter-writing to between the two schools. I have seen how my money has been used, how decisions have been made, and how much care, thought, and perseverance these folks put into it, and I am really impressed.
One School At A Time has been doing remarkable work in support of children in empoverished rural areas of Uganda. One School is working tirelessly to build capacity in schools by creating partnerships to empower local communities to best meet the needs of their children, paying special attention to the needs of AIDS orphans and the education of young girls, many of whom leave school at an early age. One School's efforts in capacity building in leadership, teacher development, health education, infrastructure development, impact not only the children of rural Uganda, but the communities in which they live.
One School At A Time has a very focused, simple collaborative approach to making a few schools stronger, safer and more self sustaining for the future. T