A&O launches Global Charity Partnership with Street Child
30 September 2021
In July, nearly 2,500 people from across A&O took part in the vote to choose our next Global Charity Partner, focusing on the issue of social mobility.
Our winner, Street Child, works to ensure that every child is safe, in school and learning. It operates in 16 countries and particularly targets children in low-resource environments and emergency situations, focusing on a sustainable combination of support to protect children from harm; create safe schools; increase capacities of caregivers and communities to build environments for children to flourish; and help state systems provide high-quality, equitable education and livelihood skills.
Street Child actively seeks out situations where gaps exist between the needs of children and the aid being provided, often making it one of the only organisations operating in situations of sudden crises, like the earthquakes in Nepal, as well as protracted conflict situations or slow onset crises like the Ebola epidemic in West Africa. It also targets hard-to-reach environments like the refugee camps in Bangladesh, working closely with partner organisations who understand the local context.
“Social mobility has long been a focus of our programmes in most offices around the world,” says Hilde van der Baan, A&O’s Pro Bono and Community Investment Partner based in Amsterdam. “So our aim for this partnership is to bring all the firm’s resources and expertise together to help Street Child meet its pledge of making a material contribution to increase safety and access to learning for one million children between 2021-2024.
“We are aiming to raise GBP1m and make a significant pro bono contribution, both to support a specific programme of work in Sierra Leone and to provide funding on an ‘opportunity for impact’ basis so that Street Child can leverage other funding and respond to under-resourced situations.”
Improving education outcomes in Sierra Leone
Street Child has been working in Sierra Leone since 2008 alongside its local partner, Street Child of Sierra Leone.
In the rural Eastern Province, nearly a quarter of all children do not finish primary school and even more leave without being able to read or write. Local community-run primary schools in remote areas receive little or no government support and have poorly-resourced teachers and classrooms, meaning children in the region are the least likely in the country to progress to secondary education.
Even those with adequate literacy levels often fail to progress to secondary school because families living in poverty struggle to afford the higher secondary education costs of travel, fees, uniforms and books.
“The Covid-19 crisis has hugely exacerbated these problems,” says Tom Dannatt, Founder and CEO of Street Child. “Schools across Sierra Leone closed for six months – the second time in five years, following the Ebola outbreak of 2014-16 – and our assessment is that one in ten children have not returned to school since they re-opened in October 2020.”
Pathways to secondary education
In 2018, Street Child launched its Right to Learn project to transform education in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone, working with communities in the Kono and Kenema Districts to build strong pathways into secondary education for 8,000 rural children.
“Accessing secondary school is vital to social mobility and transformation of life prospects,” Tom says. “Each year of secondary education has been shown by UNICEF to enhance a girl’s lifetime earnings by up to 25% - and a child born to a literate mother has a 50% greater chance of living to the age of five. A&O’s support will enable us to significantly scale up our work on this project.”
During the two-year partnership, A&O will commit GBP500,000 of money raised to support the Right to Learn project, specifically with the aim of:
- Reforming 40 rural primary schools and training teachers using an evidence-based approach that helps children develop basic literacy and numeracy skills, as well as on safeguarding.
- Identifying 1,500 girls at risk of not continuing their education, and providing support packages to enrol them in Junior Secondary education – these include counselling and family mediation, financial support packages for school costs, and referral to appropriate services where there are risks of sexual and gender-based violence.
- Helping over 1,000 caregivers to build businesses that enable them to afford to keep their children in education. Street Child’s flagship Family Business for Education model includes developing a business plan and providing a package of grants, training and mentoring to support the growth of sustainable sources of income.
Street Child’s ongoing efforts in Afghanistan
Street Child also has considerable experience of working in Afghanistan and is recognised by UNICEF and other UN agencies as one of the leading children’s charities there.
“Our aim was to educate 40,000 Afghan children in 2021 and fortunately, given our experience in the country, many of our key projects have been able to carry on despite the challenging circumstances,” Tom says. “We’re continuing to focus on those projects as well as providing humanitarian relief to over 570,000 Afghans who have been displaced recently.
We have seen the impact A&O has had with previous charity partners and are incredibly grateful and excited to start our partnership together.
Tom Dannatt, Founder and CEO of Street Child