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50 for 50: Trailblazer Award - Nathan Byrd

By Opportunity International

In May 2012, Opportunity International hired Nathan Byrd, a talented young leader who had previously served as Director of Operations for the International Rescue Committee in Kabul, Afghanistan, and VP of Strategic Development at Covenant House, to serve as the new head of Opportunity’s Education Finance program. 

At the time, Education Finance was a small pilot program—and Nathan was tasked with designing both our strategy and the necessary financial tools to help more children access quality education around the world.

He brought two essential skills to the job: an analytical viewpoint that was determined to find the best way to reach the most children and a deep commitment to changing the future for students around the world.

Over the next five years, Nathan built a team of committed practitioners who tested and refined EduFinance products by repeatedly talking to clients and financial partners. He set a vision for growth for the program, and, once the financial product was firmly established, he helped us launch new initiatives focused on education quality.

At our Education Webinar on August 18, 2021, we were honored to present Nathan with a Trailblazer Award for his tireless work developing and growing Opportunity’s Education Finance initiative. The Trailblazer Award recognizes the people who implemented Opportunity’s pillar programs and, with their dedication and perseverance, laid the foundation for us to impact millions of lives.

“What’s most exciting is what happens when people stand behind a mission like this, beyond its early challenges, confident that something great will come out of it,” Nathan shared in his acceptance speech. “That faith and that passion is really what stands out to me. People stuck by this, even when it wasn’t working in its early days, knowing that it would at some point if we kept going.”

We are so grateful to Nathan for his leadership and vision—and to the countless families who believed and invested in Education Finance from its earliest days. Through their support, the program has grown to finance nearly 9,000 schools, partner with nearly 60 financial service providers, and reach 2.8 million children around the world.

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