Michelle Obama has earned degrees from some of the most elite schools in the country including Princeton and Harvard Law. Her daughter, Malia, will be following in her parents’ footsteps, attending Harvard in the fall of 2017 – where Barack and Michelle both attended law school. But our October Cover Star also knows that 62 million girls do not have the same opportunity to go to school. Enter: Let Girls Learn – an initiative the First Lady launched last March to help give young women across the globe greater access to education. The initiative is making strides through programs big and small: like a Girls STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Design, and Math) education camp in Rwanda and a partnership with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Nike Foundation aimed at reducing the spread of HIV to young women in countries with a high HIV prevalence.
Read on for 5 more important facts about Let Girls Learn:
1. In July, the US Agency for International Development (USAID) announced a commitment of $25 million through Let Girls Learn to secure a teacher apprenticeship program in Afghanistan via a partnership with the United Kingdom’s Department of international Development (DFID) Girls Education Challenge (GEC). Through this program, young girls will have the opportunity to move into careers as teachers and educate future generations.
2. Meryl Streep and Freida Pinto traveled with the First Lady to Liberia and Morocco to announce new global commitments to Let Girls Learn. USAID is pledging up to $27 million for programs aimed at education in Liberia. The Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) partnered with the Government of Morocco is also pledging about $100 million to remodel their secondary education system. Obama blogged about her experience for HelloGiggles.
3. Kelly Clarkson, Chloe x Halle, Missy Elliot, Jadagrace, Lea Michele, Janelle Monae, Kelly Rowland and Zendaya were featured in “This is For My Girls,” written by Diane Warren for the initiative. All proceeds from song sales will support the Peace Corps’ Let Girls Learn Fund.
4. After one year, Let Girls Learn, is moving forward at full speed with the FY 2017 President’s Budget requesting more than $100 million in funds to add to the $250 million requested last year. Foreign governments have also pledged almost $600 million collectively toward education programming.
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5. Let Girls Learn not only focuses on education, but also pushes programs for empowerment and leadership; health and quality nutrition; addressing gender-based violence (GBV); and preventing child, early, and forced marriage. The initiative also partners with bilateral and multilateral groups like the Safe Schools initiative that has promoted educational programs for 53,000 displaced children in Pakistan and has set up trust funds in response to attacks on schoolchildren, like the kidnapping of 200 girls, in Nigeria.
For more from the First Lady, pick up the October issue of InStyle, available on newsstands and for digital download Friday, Sept. 16. Coming soon: InStyle’s super-chic designer tote collection to benefit the Peace Corps Let Girls Learn Fund.
—With additional reporting by Lena Felton