The Journey Begins: The WISE Youth Empowerment Program

At the Steele Family Foundation, we are committed to creating a lasting impact through education and youth empowerment. We believe in the power of collaboration, shared experiences, and the joy of collective learning. Today, we’re thrilled to share a pivotal milestone in our journey with the WISE Youth Empowerment Program.

Introducing the WISE Youth Empowerment Program

The WISE (World Impact through Scholarships & Education) Youth Empowerment Program is a transformative 5-year initiative that we’ve undertaken alongside SOS Children’s Villages and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program. This program is designed to enhance educational and life skills development opportunities for vulnerable children aged 14-17 living in alternative care in Kenya, Zimbabwe, and Ghana. Our objective? To ensure that these young individuals successfully transition to independence, armed with the knowledge, skills, and self-confidence they need to build a brighter future.

The Formulation Workshop: A Shared Vision

From March 6th to the 10th of 2023, we brought this vision to life during a vibrant, five-day formulation workshop in Nairobi, Kenya. Hosted by key figures from SOS Children’s Villages and our foundation, this workshop was about far more than planning – it was about building relationships, fostering understanding, and weaving a shared narrative of transformation.

A Heartwarming Prelude

Prior to the start of the official workshop, a select few of us had the honour of visiting an authentic SOS Children’s Village located in Nairobi. The village is situated in Buru Buru and serves as a humbling testament to the community’s resilience and strength. The children who reside in the village warmly welcomed us, and we had the rare privilege of meeting one of the heroic caregivers/mothers. We were welcomed into her home as she shared her stories with us over cups of tea. The SOS mother talked about the joys and difficulties of raising more than 8 children by herself, including the little victories and daily obstacles. This served as a reminder of our mission at The Steele Family Foundation by ensuring every child has a fair opportunity, a promising future through education, and a caring community.

Day 1: Setting the Scene

Our week began on a positive note with program partners and stakeholders introducing themselves and sharing their perspectives. As we listened, engaged, and contributed, we found ourselves coming together with a shared goal: to empower young lives through the WISE Youth Empowerment Program. This unified vision set the tone for the transformative work we had ahead of us!

Day 2: Building the Framework

The second day saw us deep in discussions, formulating the logical framework of our project – a key step in refining our objectives and identifying the activities that would bring us closer to our goals.

Day 3: Project Planning and a Moment of Fun

Day three was dedicated to project planning and budgeting. We tackled the practicalities, outlining human resource needs, program timelines, potential risks, and budget requirements. This was also the day we stepped out of our conference room and into the wild beauty of Nairobi at the Giraffe Centre, where we found a moment to connect with nature and each other in a new way.

Day 4: Monitoring and Evaluation

Day four was a deep dive into monitoring, evaluation, and budgeting. We discussed strategies to measure our program’s impact and fine-tuned our budget.

Day 5: Communication, Wrap-Up, and a Thank You Dinner

As we neared the end of our workshop, we recognized the importance of celebrating our journey together. On Thursday Stacey and Mike Steele, at their own personal expense, hosted a thank-you dinner for all participants. It was an evening of gratitude, camaraderie, and shared visions, highlighting the power of collective effort. On our final day, we strategized about our communication plans and updated our next steps and coordination plans. We closed the week with a sense of accomplishment, excitement, and renewed commitment to our shared mission.

Looking Ahead

This collaboration signifies an important step in our journey to create World Impact through Scholarships & Education (WISE). We are excited about the potential of this program and the life-changing opportunities it will offer to hundreds of children. However, this is just the beginning.

We plan a phased approach for the implementation of the program, starting in Kenya and Zimbabwe, followed by Ghana. Our vision is to expand this program to other countries, including South Africa, Namibia, Uganda, Ethiopia, Tanzania, and Senegal, thereby amplifying our impact.

Our partnership with SOS Children’s Villages and The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award program is a testament to our shared commitment to empowering youth through education. Together, we can transform lives and create a brighter future for these children.

We’re really excited about the journey ahead and look forward to sharing more updates about the WISE Youth Empowerment Program. As we embark on this journey, we are reminded of the African proverb, “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We’re grateful to be going on this journey together with our remarkable partners and, most importantly, the incredible youth we serve.