Dundee-Crown students on a global mission for girls education
Molly Foulkes believes empowering girls through education can change the world.
The 18-year-old Dundee-Crown High School senior helped start the Girl Up Dundee student club with that goal.
"It's a way for me as a high school student, where I don't really have that voice, to be able to impact something globally," Foulkes said.
Girl Up, a campaign of the United Nations Foundation launched in 2010, supports programs helping girls in developing countries gain access to education, health care, safe living conditions, and social and economic opportunities. Money raised benefits girls in five nations -- Ethiopia, India, Guatemala, Liberia and Malawi.
Girl Up Dundee hosts its first gala supporting the global campaign at 7 p.m. Dec. 10, at the high school, 1500 Kings Road, Carpentersville.
"We're becoming a more globalized nation and world. It's important to realize there are so many people out there than just our community," Foulkes said.
There are more than 1,000 Girl Up clubs registered in 43 states and 51 countries.
Dundee-Crown is among three Northwest suburban schools with chapters -- joining St. Francis de Sales Catholic School in Lake Zurich and John Hersey High School in Arlington Heights.
"We're kind of unique. We have approximately 35 members and it grows with every meeting and event that we do," Foulkes said.
Foulkes and fellow senior Sydney Faler, 17, were inspired to start the club last year after hearing British actress and U.N. Women Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson's speech about gender equality given at the United Nations.
This past summer, the duo joined 275 girls at the Girl Up Leadership Summit in Washington, D.C., where first lady Michelle Obama spoke about her Let Girls Learn project, which also aims to raise awareness and funding for girls education.
So far this year, Girl Up Dundee club members have raised $308 at a bake sale outside a local Jewel-Osco store. Last school year, they raised about $200. Money collected until Dec. 1 will help purchase bicycles for children in Guatemala so they can safely get to school, Foulkes said.
"I think it's cool to know that you can be a part of something that big with that large of an impact," she said.
The group's goal is to raise up to $500 at the Dec. 10 gala, which will include a catered dinner, live music by a jazz combo quintet, guest speakers and video presentations.
"It's the first real big event that we're trying to host," Foulkes said. "We're also trying to get more parents, community members and students involved in the club because a lot of people don't really understand what we're doing."
Foulkes and Faler are vetting students interested in running the club after they graduate.
"Hopefully, we can have people in multiple grade levels running and continuing the club next year," Foulkes said. "We're trying to find a way to get middle schoolers involved. Our main goal is to make this club something that people are inspired by and continue into the future ... that we can pass this passion on to other people."