What does Edge of Seven mean?
Edge relates directly to both the populations we seek to support – girls, women – who often live on the marginalized peripheries or “edges” of their societies. It also speaks to the geographies in which we choose to work. We work in rural areas where the services the infrastructure and the commitment from the local and national governments may be lower. Because it may be so challenging or costly to work on the edge we also find that there are fewer other organizations working in the areas where we do.
Seven is symbolic of the seven continents and our vision to have a global impact.
Why and How does Edge of Seven collaborate with local NGOs?
We have much to learn from the communities where we work. All of our projects are designed and initiated at the community level and implemented in collaboration with village councils, community school boards, and local non-governmental organizations (NGOs or CBO’s – community based organizations) that are already making strides to elevate the status of girls, women, and rural communities. All our initiatives are backed by our principle of “leverage” where both our local NGO partners and the communities in which we work to ensure local buy-in and ownership. Edge of Seven matches the inputs of local partners with funding along with technical and other support. Our goal is to leverage our financial input so that we are paying 1/3 of the cost of the implementation (with the local NGO’s and community paying a 1/3 and the government paying 1/3). In this way we know we can make our resources go farther and increase local ownership.
This website and logo look a lot different. What changed and why?
In 2014, Edge of Seven took another step forward in its own development. Over the years, our mission has grown as we have sought ways to make an even larger impact through our work. While our core principles remain the same in many ways, we are also evolving to ensure that we are making the most impact on the ground that we can. For instance in 2015 after the earthquakes in Nepal we were faced with a dilemma. We could wait for on-the-ground relief efforts to conclude before we continued working on permanent infrastructure development OR we could do what we could to support the system of education in which we were working. We chose the latter and have shifted to a perspective that we thinks serves people on the ground best. So when we were asked to support Temporary Learning Centers (TLCs) to keep kids in school, teachers teaching and communities intact we said, heck ya! But we also knew the potential risk there too. We knew that maybe some of those temporary learning centers would be turned into permanent (or quasi-permanent school buildings). So at the same time we said “heck ya” we also said, “but we commit to building permanent schools in those locations within 18 months.” Now in 2016 we’re beginning the hard work of building SEVEN new permanent school buildings where those TLC’s are.
We are also challenging all our brother and sister organizations on the ground in Nepal to do the same thing. So we are changing and growing our program as well to be an innovator (earthbag buildings), a thought-leader (500 classrooms by 2020) and a connector (bringing in new partners to assist where they are strong – “play on strengths” is another principle). We have embraced these changes, which we firmly believe make us a stronger organization. We hope that you will join us in celebrating this fundamental shift.
Why do you work in Nepal, Kenya, Rwanda?
Our commitment to working rurally and working in areas where people are marginalized leads us to these locations in Southeast Asia and East Africa. Further because we work with strong partners on the ground and community involvement is key, choosing locations where we can have the longest-living impacts is important. We also work in areas where we know that infrastructure can have larger outcomes — places where natural disasters (Nepal) or greater challenges (water, sanitation) mean that can leverage greater impacts.
Where do you work in each of these countries?
In Nepal we work in the Solukhumbu (Everest region) to the east and south of Phaplu. In Rwanda we work south of Kigali in the Bougasera district in the village of Nyamata. In Kenya we work a couple hours north of Nairobi in a village on the west side of Mt Kenya called Naro Moru.
Why do these areas need more schools?
In general, rural areas in these countries don’t have enough schools to serve the number of children in need of an education. In Nepal, this situation was worsened by the 2015 earthquakes, which destroyed approximately 225 schools in the Solukhumbu region alone. Each school is made up of many classrooms and in this region alone there were 1074 classrooms destroyed.
Why do girls need more help than boys?
We do not believe that the challenges facing girls and women in developing countries will ever be resolved without the participation of men and boys. For this reason, we work to support our local NGO and CBO partners as they educate parents and community members, of both sexes, on the benefits and importance of sending their daughters to school. This education takes place over many individual cups of tea, through community performances, in formal classroom settings and over a long period of time.
In these cultures, girls are more susceptible to early marriage, early childbearing, and physical abuse. Providing girls an education not only directly combats these issues, but it also increases their family’s income. But, even if we are working to support girls education in the rural parts of the world, we are in many ways also acknowledging that all children need an education. With classrooms, if there aren’t enough seats for students, the boys will force out the girls and the girls will return to the classroom later than boys. So our solutions in many cases help boys as well as girls get an education. Further we know that many solutions related to getting girls back to school, staying in school and graduating are related to societal factors that include men’s opinions of girls or the norms surrounding girls education. This is complex. We focus on girls’ outcomes, while the outputs often will benefit both boys and girls.
Why do you focus on rural communities?
Our end goal is to alleviate poverty in the developing world, and the majority of people living in extreme poverty live in these nations’ rural areas. This extreme poverty is due in part to a lack of educational resources, so our school projects help to rebuild this much needed infrastructure. Further, rural communities have fewer NGO’s assisting them. Because of this, we see that we need to be a leader in developing replicable models of assistance that other organizations and groups can utilize to increase collective impact in these areas.
What are your seven principles?
Build Capacity, Transfer Power, Play on Strengths, Leverage, Focus on Future Generations, Collaborate, and Learn. For more information on each of these principles, please click here.
How are you responding to the 2015 earthquakes?
As an immediate response, we worked with our Nepalese partner to construct seven Temporary Learning Centers so the school day could continue. In 2016, we will build seven permanent school buildings for a total of 14 more classrooms. READ MORE
Are the new schools earthquake resistant?
Our buildings that incorporate earthbags are more earthquake resistant than the traditional stone construction. For more information on earthbags, click here. After the earthquake the national government set about approving all new building designs. Only reinforced traditional stone buildings have been approved as of (7/24/16). Buildings using earthbag technology after the earthquake are not approved by the national government. We will only build with this technology when we have been approved to do so.
Do you only build earthbag buildings? Why?
We strive to construct many buildings with earthbags, but sometimes government regulations do not allow for it. We are working with the local government to approve this innovative construction method so we (and other nonprofits) can use earthbag technology at our discretion. We are also sensitive to the needs and desires of the community and will only build with a technology that they approve.
What is your impact so far?
Since our founding in 2010, Edge of Seven has contributed toward 15 schools, three dorms, and two water supplies in Nepal, as well as two water harvesting projects and a resource center in Kenya. For more information about our impact, please click here.
What is your logic model (or theory of change)?
See more HERE
What is the difference between “output” and “outcome?”
Output is typically the actual building or implementation. The outcome may be (among other things) better educational outcomes for girls (attendance, graduation, matriculation) or increased community involvement in their social needs. See more HERE.
How much does it cost to build a school in Nepal?
Because we work in rural parts of the Solukhumbu the cost of a new government approved design building (post earthquake design approvals are more challenging to get) is approximately $24,750. This cost is for a traditional stone building, reinforced with concrete foundation, corner pillars, floor, ring beams — all of these reinforced with rebar. The roof is tied to the corner pillars with rebar and the roof is corrugated tin. The costs include electrical and furnishing costs as well. One factor in determining costs in rural areas is also the cost of transport as many materials must be trucked in, then portered in for schools where there are no roads. Further, please also understand that some organizations will build outside of government approval believing that they are doing a good thing by “just getting the building in.” We believe that this method of development lacks integrity, creates dependencies with the community, and is not honoring and respecting the communities or the responsibility that we have to the government and civil structures of the society. While being respectful and playing by the local and national laws of a country may make our solutions cost more we are dedicated to ensuring that we get both the benefit of the implementation as well as community building/capacity building (see this post for more on “why education” and what these two outcomes are).
Why should I give to Edge of Seven instead of other nonprofits?
How can I get involved besides donating?
Are you hiring?
Possibly. To know for sure, click here and look for Edge of Seven under tennant staff and intern openings.
Is there an opportunity to travel with Edge of Seven to see your work and/or do service overseas?
Can I volunteer here in the US?
How do I apply to become a board member?
First of all, thank you for your interest. Please fill out this form and check the box associated with the board that you’d like to join.
What is your plan for the future?
Our building work will continue to increase in 2017 with 28 buildings (56 classrooms), which will make a small dent in the Nepalese earthquake-related devastation. With the assistance of local NGOs and government agencies, we aim to help replace 500 classrooms by 2020.