2018 was… “extra.”

Dear Friends of YTF,

2018 was a year of blessings, awesome new partners, and shared impact.  As we approach the end of 2018, we reflect on a year filled with a series of unforgettable moments.  Thank you for believing in our work this past year and in its ability to make a transformational impact in the lives of youth and women.

From meeting some of the most inspiring people and organizations at various speaking engagements through the year, to seeing our work in action on the ground, to listening to our students talk about how YTF ‘rescued’ them from the tranches of poverty, our work couldn’t have been more worthwhile.  I hope you can see from this letter how cool and “extra” 2018 was and join us to make 2019 even better.

In January, at the Annual Meeting of the World Economic Forum in Davos, YTF announced two partnerships this year- first with Theirworld to establish Code Clubs in Kenya and secondly with HP Foundation to co-author 3D printing curriculum on HP Life.

Girls Learn to Code, then What?

The educational system in Africa is not just broken, it’s obsolete.  Teachers are falling farther and farther behind as technology advances and learning material is more aligned with the skills industry requires.  Re-engaging and re-energizing girls’ interest in STEM subjects through learning environments which are academically supportive is critical in this next phase and is what Code Clubs accomplishes.  Code Clubs builds key skills which will support real job prospects and promote self-reliance and employability.

In an interview with BBC reporters who were on site during the launch, 12-year-old Princess said that learning to code was ‘like magic’.

A dark-skinned girl in a blue and white school uniform smiles at a light-skinned businesswoman and a light-skinned man in a polo shirt. All three are clapping and smiling.

We were thrilled to have James and Laura from Theirworld’s U.K. team visit Makena School in Nairobi last October.

Read more about Code Clubs.

Ideas to Prototypes at the Speed of Light

YTF co-authored a 3D printing course with HP which has now been developed in 6 languages and over 2,304 people have enrolled in the course.  The course objectives include learning how 3D printing can enable individuals to design, prototype and manufacture new products and the opportunities that exist today in 3D printing.

A dark-skinned male instructor demonstrates to two dark-skinned girls how to change the filament spool on a 3D printing machine.

During the 2018 Global Citizen Festival in South Africa, HP announced its partnership with YTF to reach 100,000 learners across Africa in 2019.

Read the press release about YTF’s partnership with HP.


Disruption all the Way

I was invited by the American Council in Washington, DC, to join a panel during the World Bank Spring Meeting.  I also participated in an interview on Facebook Live discussing how African governments, working with the private sector, can harness new technology and innovations for inclusive growth and development across the continent.

A dark-skinned girl in a brown school uniform wears a virtual reality headset while another dark-skinned girl in same uniform works on laptops in the background.

Hacking the SDGs

In its second year, 3D Africa’s HackforGood 2018 was hosted by the University of Lagos and brought together dozens of students, private sector partners, technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs to develop the next best technology prototype addressing the sustainable development goals last August.  It was so inspiring to meet many of the students like Temilade, a fourth-year mechanical engineering student at the University of Ibadan, and Alex, a third-year engineering student at the University of Benin.

Temilade shared with me her experience of being a woman in technology, including the lack of other women as mentors in this field.  Temilade also confided that even when she graduated from secondary school, she didn’t know that women could be engineers.  In exploring what course of study she wanted to pursue at university, she resorted to Googling the phrase “can women be engineers?”

The rest is history.

Alex, a self-taught computer aided design (CAD) student, expressed how he taught himself to use CAD and relied on his sister to share her knowledge of Fusion 360 and Autodesk Inventor.  Alex feels there is still a lot of room for universities to teach and provide real life opportunities for their students to apply the knowledge they’ve learned. Participating in HackforGood 2018 was like, “Going to the moon and back. I haven’t quite seen anything like this,” Alex explained.

Two dark-skinned women and two dark-skinned men in matching blue 3D Africa t-shirts examine a smartphone at a worktable with laptops and exposed circuits on top.

Look out world! They are coming and they are bound to change you for good!

3D Africa

Our internship pool for 3D Africa continues to grow and this year, we saw some of our brightest young people walk through our doors.  Cyril knows that it is one thing to look into the future and what technologies will be most relevant, but he knows even more importantly the essence of design in innovating for local realities.   Another 3D Africa intern, Amaka, was invited by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to represent YTF at the Global Goals conference at the Global Citizens Festival in Johannesburg. Amaka was also a semi-finalist for the prestigious Cisco Youth Leadership award for her work with girls and technology at YTF.

A group of smiling, dark-skinned young men and women in matching blue t-shirts gather around a well-dressed dark-skinned business woman. One young man shakes hands with the business woman.

Economic Pillars, Backbone

We know that the communities we work in cannot thrive without women, the economic backbones of these communities we serve.  For the last 18 years, we have worked alongside women entrepreneurs and have developed business, financial inclusion and technology training helping them expand their businesses in this new digital economy.  In 2018, we began training female apprentices to ensure they have the digital skills to better manage inventory, customers and to promote these businesses in the global marketplace.

Three dark-skinned women admire brightly colored dresses hanging on a display

Our Reach is Global – Girls4Tech

Fundación Esperanza Pertusa in Spain selected YTF as a partner and in recognition for our work with girls, Girls4Tech, in Kenya.   In 2019, 400 girls, ages 10-13, will participate in the program.

I penned a piece on Medium about this partnership.


There is Opportunity Here

YTF Academy continues to grow in the Louisville, where our U.S. offices are located.
There is opportunity here and we see similar needs in this community to the needs we have been fighting for over many years in developing countries.  Access to technology is a basic human right and should be accessible to all. We continue to be excited about what the future holds for YTF in the U.S.

Two light-skinned boys sit at a table and work on iPad tablets.

Year-End Reminder

Please consider donating to our cause today.  A gift of any amount is greatly appreciated and will make a big difference in helping us achieve our mission.

When we say the work we do is made possible thanks to you, we mean it.  Without your support, we cannot provide youth with the technology training to help them further their education.  We cannot provide women entrepreneurs with the skills they need to grow their businesses. Without your support, we simply can’t change the world.

On behalf of my colleagues at YTF, our board of trustees, the students that we serve, wishing you peace, joy and a little extra in the New Year.


All the best,


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