Through the generosity of Business for Good, a Saratoga Springs philanthropy founded by Lisa and Mitzen, The Giving Circle is embarking on a long-term project to improve teaching and learning at its two schools near Jinja, Uganda.
The $60,000 grant from Business for Good, a Mitzen philanthropy that purchases for-profit businesses and spins off their profits for community good, will enable The Giving Circle to continue vital education work stalled by the pandemic. The Mitzens, along with staff from their advertising and marketing firm, Fingerpaint, have already helped build and staff a medical clinic in Kagoma Gate’s neighboring village of Mutai.
President Leo Geoffrion said The Giving Circle plans to use the Business for Good education grant to expand teacher professional development at its schools in Kagoma Gate and Busoga, where students perform at high levels despite poorly trained and, in some cases, poorly educated teachers.
Before the pandemic, The Giving Circle had partnered with the Greater Capital Region Teacher Center to take teams of master teachers to Uganda to deliver high-level professional development. Week-long conferences in 2019 and 2020 trained about 90 teachers in research-based teaching practices used in New York’s public schools.
“We saw first-hand how the Ugandan teachers in our two schools used their new-found knowledge to begin transforming how they teach,” said Ann Fantauzzi, The Giving Circle’s vice president for education programs. “Of course, the biggest beneficiaries from better teaching are the children, who will learn more and have brighter futures.”
“Imagine what we will be able to accomplish when we take this already proven concept and invest more, expand it and give our teachers in Uganda the kind of professional training they need,” Geoffrion added. “We can’t thank the Mitzen’s and Business for Good enough for their generosity and long-standing commitment to The Giving Circle.”
Moses Wambi, The Giving Circle’s Africa director, told Business for Good staff at a mid-morning ceremony via Zoom, “I am humbled, on behalf of our team, for the wonderful gift you are presenting to us today.”
The Giving Circle’s reach in Uganda is only possible through its founders, Mark and Kelly Bertrand, whose incredible dedication and indomitable spirit guided construction of the Friendship School at Kagoma Gate and initiated programs for students with disabilities at the Busoga Junior School, Geoffrion noted.
“Mark and Kelly’s vision of compassion, self-less service and expanding opportunities for some of the poorest people in Africa is ingrained in The Giving Circle,” Geoffrion said. “This grant is one more step towards fulfilling a dream —ensuring that every child in our Uganda schools has the opportunity to soar.”