Julie-Anne Savarit-Cosenza grew up in the Philadelphia area, but realized her passion for international development at a young age. During her sophomore year of high school, Julie-Anne and a handful of her classmates decided they wanted to support students affected by poverty and AIDS ravaging the community of Kafue, Zambia, which is where their beloved soccer coach was born. They launched the African Education Program (AEP) and began to support their Zambia peers by sending school supplies, computers, and clothes they had collected to the community. The project continued to grow with the help of Julie-Anne’s family and friends even while she took a leadership hiatus in order to attend college. Julie-Anne obtained a bachelor’s degree in international relations from American University, and soon thereafter transitioned into the full-time role of Executive Director for AEP.
The African Education Program aims to empower the youth of Zambia through education and leadership, to break the cycle of poverty in their communities. Public Schools in Zambia are over-crowded to the point where students are only allowed to attend in half-day shifts, and the little instruction they do receive is often sub-standard. AEP works with local leaders to create resource centers tailored to the needs of youth in order to bolster their educational opportunities and improve their learning outcomes. The centers provide tutoring on core subjects, mentoring programs, health education, and exciting extra-curricular activities to ensure students are receiving a well-rounded education. AEP also empowers students through direct sponsorship that covers the costs of secondary school and pursuing higher education.
MNSF partnered with the African Education Program in 2017 to dramatically increase the number of educational sponsorships the organization is able to provide to youth in the community. We have also helped Julie-Anne to launch a new College and Career Preparation program that will expose students to different higher learning opportunities and help them identify their career pathways.