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How Malala Fund’s Innovative Grantmaking is Revolutionizing Education for Girls

By Guest Author December 11, 2020

Schools in nearly 90% of the world’s countries have closed at some point this year to help slow the spread of COVID-19. For many students, these school closures could mean the end of their formal education. This is especially true for girls. Malala Fund’s research estimates 20 million more girls could be out of school after the pandemic ends.

Our aim at Malala Fund is to create a world where every girl can access 12 years of free, safe, quality education. We know educated girls strengthen economies, promote peace, and improve public health. To mitigate the impacts of this pandemic on girls and secure a better future, we’ve found that supporting locally-led initiatives works best.

Profound Change Starts With Local Partners

Inspired by Malala and Ziauddin Yousafzai’s early activism, Malala Fund launched the Education Champions Network to identify and scale the work of local educators and advocates. From creating digital learning opportunities and initiatives to protect girls’ mental well-being to securing national funding for education — the Champions we support are driving solutions to girls’ education challenges in their communities. 

Over the course of a three-year grant, Champions implement ambitious, goal-oriented projects and participate in advocacy campaigns aimed at changing local and national policies that hinder equal access to education. The initiative currently supports 57 Education Champions in eight countries with the greatest need.

The COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately affect many of the girls and young women in the regions where we work. To help keep girls learning, Malala Fund has awarded new grant funding to Champions leading pandemic response initiatives.

Having first-hand knowledge of the barriers that keep girls in their area from going to school makes our partners well-suited to overcome those obstacles, take action, and advance education opportunities for the girls in their community. During the pandemic, these local education leaders have been critical in identifying and launching initiatives that not only assist girls in continuing their education during school closures, but also help them get back in the classroom when schools reopen.

The COVID-19 pandemic will disproportionately affect many of the girls and young women in the regions where we work. To help keep girls learning, Malala Fund has awarded new grant funding to Champions leading pandemic response initiatives.

  1. Remote learning for refugee children in Lebanon: Malala Fund Education Champion Nayla Fahed created Tabshoura, an award-winning e-learning platform that helps Syrian refugees and girls in vulnerable communities in Lebanon learn for free. The game-changing part of Nayla’s platform? It doesn’t require internet access. Content is available in Arabic, French, and English, and it adheres to Lebanese school curriculum to ensure students don’t get behind when in-person classes resume.

    magnifying glass being held up to a computer screen
    Tabshoura is an award-winning e-learning platform that helps
    Syrian refugees and Lebanese students learn for free. 

    As distance learning becomes more common, the long-term benefits of Tabshoura are incredible. Nayla’s organization, Lebanese Alternative Learning (LAL), will also develop teacher training courses on the platform aimed at strengthening remote instruction. Nayla plans to make Tabshoura accessible to more students across Lebanon by training and distributing it to other education-related NGOs in the country.

  2. Broadcasting lessons over the radio in Nigeria: As an Education Champion and founder of ACE Charity, Kiki James runs safe space clubs to help equip girls in northern Nigeria with the tools they need to realize their ambitions. Now with Nigeria’s nation-wide school closures, Kiki is working with teachers to produce education radio programs to ensure students without access to online learning can attend class at home. The broadcasts air weekly and deliver multilingual lessons on literacy, numeracy, and STEM.

    magnifying glass being held up to a computer screen
    Malala Fund is partnering with ACE Charity in Nigeria to provide children
    with radio-based education during the pandemic.

  3. Digitizing Pakistan’s national curriculum: Another Malala Fund Champion, Haroon Yasin digitized Pakistan’s national curriculum and developed an app called Taleemabad, a mobile and web application that helps out-of-school children resume their studies remotely.

    Malala Fund is partnering with Haroon’s nonprofit, Orenda Project, to scale Taleemabad’s reach and respond to the sharp increase in remote learning during the pandemic. Haroon has since added more lessons to the Taleemabad app and repurposed the app’s cartoon characters for an educational children’s show to be broadcast twice a day on Pakistani television.

Malala Fund Champion, Haroon Yasin, developed an educational children’s cartoon
that’s being made into a television show.

We believe that long-lasting change must first start in the community, and programs like these show the endless possibilities of connecting transformative resources with devoted partners. By identifying and investing in education advocates at the local level, our grant dollars are maximizing impact on the ground by scaling their life-changing work. 

Malala Fund needs your support so we can continue responding to the pandemic. Make a donation today to help keep girls learning — during and after the COVID-19 crisis.

Technology That Maximizes Donor Impact

With grantmaking such a fundamental component of our organization’s work, we’re a bit of an outlier in the nonprofit sector. Until’s newly-released Grants Management tool, there was no comprehensive grantmaking product that fit our unique model and approach.

To achieve what we needed, we worked with on a customized grants tracker — now a foundational tool in our grantmaking process. This solution is critical in both tracking the progress of grant dollars and capturing reporting deadlines for donors on key program deliverables.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for a refined grantmaking process that enables funders to deliver essential dollars to grantees quicker so that recipients can receive crucial services faster. With its new Grants Management tool, has started to create an all-in-one solution designed to streamline the tedious grantmaking process. The tool will be instrumental in helping grantmakers to track and report on funds faster.

End-to-end solutions like the Salesforce tools we use are hugely important for any nonprofit organization or grantmaker, where resources are spread thin and employees wear multiple hats. In addition to tracking grants, we use Salesforce as our main donor database. This allows us to record important donor interactions and move supporters seamlessly through the funnel from initial contact to donation. Housing all this valuable information in one place means that we can understand each donor’s journey, personalize their communications, and report back to them on the impact of their dollars. 

With the support of Salesforce’s tools, Malala Fund has invested $22 million in global education programs that have ensured countless girls get the equal access to education they deserve.

Learn more about’s new Grants Management solution.

About the Authors

Katie Houck, Business Development Officer 

Katie identifies new sources of revenue and converts prospective major donors, foundations and corporations into donors. Before joining Malala Fund, she served as the director for philanthropy at the Washington Office on Latin America (WOLA). She holds a bachelor’s degree in communications and English literature from Southern Methodist University and master’s degree in social business and entrepreneurship from the London School of Economics and Political Science.


Sarah Albright, Development Associate

Sarah oversees the management of Malala Fund’s donor database and donor records. She works closely with colleagues to ensure all gifts from donors are accurately and efficiently processed, tracked, acknowledged and reconciled. Some of Sarah’s past experiences include working at the Embassy of Canada, U.S. Fund for UNICEF and the Peace Corps. Sarah graduated from The George Washington University with a bachelor’s degree in international affairs with concentrations in international development and security policy.