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Irene D. Pritzker, and Attendees of World Leadership Forum Dinner, Reflect on her Global Philanthropy Award and the Work of IDP Rising Schools Program

By Opportunity International

“We have created a new way to educate millions of poor children – who like all children, have big dreams.” -Irene D. Pritzker, accepting the Global Philanthropy Award at the Foreign Policy Association World Leadership Forum Dinner on Wednesday, Sept. 22, 2010 

On Wednesday night, Irene D. Pritzker, co-founder and president of IDP Foundation, Inc., was honored at the World Leadership Forum Dinner for her work with the IDP Rising Schools Program in Ghana. The IDP Rising Schools Program was created by the IDP Foundation, Inc. and implemented by one ofhttp://www.opportunity.org/Opportunity International[/intlink]‘s partner NGOs, Sinapi Aba Trust, the largest microfinance NGO in Ghana. “We have been very fortunate to have partnered with Opportunity International, one of the largest, most respected and innovative microfinance networks in the world,” Irene told the audience. 

The award dinner, held in honor of H.E. Sebastian Piñera, president of Chile, took place at the Grand Hyatt Hotel in New York. The World Leadership Forum is a renowned gathering of philanthropic leaders, government and state officials, investors, and leaders in international affairs to discuss global trends and issues in business and policy. 

Among the attendees at the dinner were Opportunity’s CEO Bill Morgenstern; VP of Resource Development, Lillian Covington; and our senior VP of Outreach & New Initiatives, Jennifer Mitrenga. Reflecting on the night, Lillian reported: 

The award ceremony was beautiful and we (Bill, Jennifer and I) were honored to join and celebrate with Irene as she received the Foreign Policy Association’s Global Philanthropy Award. We are excited and thank God that these impoverished children’s lives will be impacted and transformed forever through the IDP Rising Schools Program. The mission of the program is to transform the lives of underserved children by providing them with affordable and sustainable quality education in both urban and rural Ghana, and to use a combination of http://www.opportunity.org/what-is-microfinance/microfinance[/intlink] loans and capacity-building services that are specifically tailored to the needs of the private schools for the poor. As Irene mentioned in her acceptance speech, this program is unique as it directly addresses four of the eighthttp://www.opportunity.org/blog/un-gathers-this-week-to-eradicate-poverty-through-the-mdgs/Millennium Development Goals[/intlink] – education, poverty, gender equality, and global partnerships. 

Irene and Opportunity CEO Bill Morgenstern pose for a picture at the World Leadership Forum Dinner, Sept. 22, 2010. (Photo courtesy of IDP Foundation, Inc.)

Irene and Opportunity CEO Bill Morgenstern pose for a picture at the World Leadership Forum Dinner, Sept. 22, 2010. (Photo courtesy of IDP Foundation, Inc.)

Bill also shared his reflections from the evening: “What a wonderful night this has been. My heartfelt congratulations to Irene Pritzker on receiving this prestigious award. It is a well-deserved honor for such a committed philanthropist. We at Opportunity are proud to partner with IDP Foundation on campaigns to promote education and educational finance for entrepreneurs who develop schools in underserved communities. I was so pleased to be able to attend this wonderful event tonight.” 

In her acceptance speech, Irene explained why the IDP Rising Schools Program is so important and how it is making a difference in the lives of underserved children in Ghana: 

In November 2009, the IDP Rising Schools Program commenced with the idea of serving existing, but extremely poor, private schools at the very bottom of the economic pyramid. Currently, there are 73 schools in the program and by the end of this year there will be 120 schools, which will reach 31,000 children. 

For decades now, so many aid organizations have entered into bilateral agreements with governments and continue to funnel billions of dollars into systems that don’t ultimately work effectively. And after all that effort, and a lot of taxpayer dollars, just five years away from the 2015 Millennium Development Goals deadline, UNESCO estimates nearly 40% of Ghanaian children still do not have access to education. 

What is different about the IDP Rising Schools model is that we focus on the struggling private sector of school owners and their communities, who with virtually no resources, have taken it upon themselves to try to educate children in deprived areas where government schools are either inaccessible or inadequate. 

Our congratulations to Irene on this well-deserved honor. For more on the IDP Rising Schools and Opportunity’s work in educational finance, attend our breakout session, “Education Finance: Schools for Children Living in Poverty” at the http://www.opportunity.org/opportunity-international-conference/Fall Microfinance Conference[/intlink], Oct. 8-9. Be sure to check out the IDP Foundation, Inc. website to learn more about the IDP Rising Schools Program.

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