Meet an STF Leader Who's Lifting Up Others

Cynthia, a She’s the First Fellow from Kenya, knows firsthand the power of peer-to-peer mentorship. As a graduate of STF partner Akili Dada, she’s seen the difference it can make to have sustained support and safe spaces. That’s why she’s using her time in the STF Community Impact Fellowship to pursue Life Lifters.

The STF Community Impact Fellowship is a one-year program for top student leaders to launch community-based projects that advance our mission of fighting gender inequality through education. Throughout this time, fellows receive training, a seed grant, and mentorship. The inaugural cohort from 2018-2019 includes 11 fellows, hailing from 5 countries around the globe.

For Cynthia’s fellowship, she founded Life Lifters, an incubator for young women, aimed at alleviating poverty in her home county of Nandi. Life Lifters provides programs on personal health and well-being, community, and economic mobility to ensure all girls have the skills and confidence needed to break the cycle of poverty.

To date, Cynthia’s organization has mentored over 20 girls and young women. They’ve all participated in four career conferences and a training session focused around sexual/reproductive health, developing goal-setting skills, and building confidence. Already, Cynthia has been making moves, and she’s just getting started.

Life Lifter students during a break in programming

Life Lifter students during a break in programming

As Cynthia knows, tuition alone isn’t enough for girls to be successful or financially independent—there needs to be sustained support, guidance, and opportunities along the way. Without mentorship, professional support, and safe spaces, girls are more likely to drop out of school—because no one is there to support them.

Cynthia’s Life Lifters program is the antidote to such a problem. As Cynthia puts it, “Through STF’s support, 20 young women in my community now know about goal-setting and reproductive health, and [they] are more confident about their lives and futures.” Throughout the experience, being an STF Fellow has greatly impacted the way Cynthia sees herself, too: “She’s the First has exposed me to opportunities that have introduced me to myself and built my capacity as a mentor and role model for women in my community.”

Life Lifters girls with mentors & staff from STF Partner Akili Dada in Kenya

Life Lifters girls with mentors & staff from STF Partner Akili Dada in Kenya

This year, invest sustainably in leaders like Cynthia, who are working tirelessly to ensure girls everywhere have access to quality education and mentorship.