Article: Building Tomorrow, Today


Texas Kappas Build a School in Uganda

Spring 2012

When Ellie Chernosky, Texas, stepped into the role of Philanthropy Chairman at Beta Xi Chapter of Kappa Kappa Gamma, she wanted to “go big!” “We were looking for a cause to rally behind, something that would engage the whole chapter and leave a legacy,” says Ellie. Online research led Ellie to discover that children comprise 50 percent of Uganda’s population, and that one in three Ugandan people cannot read. Public education is available in Uganda, but communities are too poor to build schools.

Inspired by the thought of building a school in Uganda, Ellie wondered how the chapter could achieve such a goal.

Using, Ellie calculated the cost of her elementary school education, something she had taken for granted as a U.S. citizen. The website compared this cost to the low cost of educating a child in Uganda. The United States spends 50 times what Uganda spends per student on public education per year.

Compelled by the research, Ellie and Beta Xi found Building Tomorrow, an organization that raises funds to build schools in sub-Saharan Africa. The thought of building a whole school appealed to the chapter, as well as the fact that 100 percent of the funds raised go directly to building a school. “College students typically do not have a lot of extra money on hand to give, but if you give one dollar, there is a tangible connection to the UT Kappa School in Uganda,” Ellie says.

The chapter set a goal to build a 10-classroom school in Uganda by raising $45,000. It would provide 325 Ugandan children with a place to learn. Every contributed dollar provides nine bricks to build a school. A bag of cement is $25, a desk for three children is $60 and $900 is equivalent to a roomful of desks! It takes only $6,000 to fund an entire classroom.

Chapter members raised funds with personal online fundraising campaigns, a Powder Puff tournament against the Pi Phis, a Kappa Cookout after a Texas home football game and a trunk show. With the growing excitement, it took only two months to raise $23,000, more than half the goal.

Liz Braden, Virginia, a former volunteer and now employee at Building Tomorrow, admires the work of her Kappa sisters: “They have shown an amazing commitment to help children thousands of miles away.. . . They truly see that many children in Uganda do not have access to primary school education as a problem they can help solve,” says Liz.

Reaching their goal of $45,000 in December, “We are excited that we were able to come together as a chapter and achieve something that will impact children for the rest of their lives,” Ellie says. “We realized that together, united as Kappas, we really can make a difference and leave a legacy.”

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