WISER 2017 Annual report

Letter from WISER Leadership

It has been over 10 years since the first brainstorming sessions for WISER began. From the earliest meetings with community members under the WISER tree to now, we've come a long way.

Since WISER opened its campus in Kenya in 2010, we have worked with over 2,500 girls through the WISER Girls Secondary School and our high-impact community programs. In a community where girls have to fight to stay in school, WISER has created an environment where 0% of girls drop out and 90% go on to college or university. This year, we graduated our 5th WISER class: the latest group of girls to celebrate a perfect graduation rate while qualifying for nationally-competitive scholarships at double the national rate.

In 2017, WISER continued to reduce the risk of HIV/AIDs, build a tradition of academic excellence, improve the health of thousands of community members, and empower girls to lead their communities. In this report, you'll read more about how we did this. You'll learn how a group of driven WISER girls reached hundreds of youth with a sexual and reproductive health program. You'll see how providing a girl with STEM opportunities can turn her into a national competitor. And, perhaps most importantly, you'll see that the face of positive change in Muhuru Bay has become the face of a young woman. The face of a WISER girl.

We invite you to not only learn about how these successes came to be, but to share in our celebration of them!

With gratitude,

Sherryl Broverman, WISER Founder and Board Chair
WISER's Student Body President, Linah, wants to be a doctor so that she can prove medicine does not have to be a male-dominated field.

LETTER FROM wiser's Student body President - Linah

There is something important for us all to talk about. For many years, girls have been given unequal opportunities. Sometimes, a girl's parents refuse to send her to school. So, it is now up to us, the girls, to advocate for ourselves.

We want to show our male counterparts that whatever they are able to do, we can also do. We want to show our courage. We have to show what we can do. And nowadays we're feeling valued as we show these things - because of WISER.

WISER has made it so that girls can explore leadership. When you have girls in leadership they understand the challenges that other girls go through throughout their lives. And it makes me feel so happy to see myself represented - to see girls respected in this way.

I am now a part of that story - girls leading in Muhuru Bay. One day I might inspire someone else. It makes me feel so happy to think that. I'm thankful to be learning to think that more and I'm thankful for WISER.

Celebrating 5 Years of WISER Graduates

In a region where less than 7% of girls finish high school, we are proud to celebrate our fifth graduating class of WISER girls. Over the years, 100% of WISER students have finished high school and 90% have gone on to college or university after WISER.

Our fifth group of graduates, the WISER class of 2017 is particularly special. Our 2017 graduates earned full university scholarships at double the Kenyan national rate and were nearly twice as likely to qualify for college programs when compared to their peers nationally. 2017 also marks the second year in a row that WISER girls shattered expectations for girls in STEM by making physics their highest-scoring subject on the Kenyan national exams (KCSE).

Today, we have a thriving alumni network of nearly 150 girls. We have alumni that are pursuing degrees in everything from computer science to nursing, and they're doing so on college campuses everywhere from Arizona to Nairobi. WISER alumni have pursued teaching fellowships, they have led health outreach programs, and some have even come back as interns on WISER's campus.

Wherever they may be, these girls are worth celebrating. Together, they are a wave of powerful young women ready to drive change in their communities. They symbolize hope for hundreds of girls who aspire to be in their shoes. And, ultimately, they embody a powerful argument for why we believe in investing in young women.


In WISER's region, young women are underrepresented and undervalued in all levels of education. WISER is working to change this narrative by ensuring more girls than ever are educated, healthy, and empowered.

Once girls are enrolled at WISER, their odds of graduating are astronomically higher than their peers' in nearby schools.

Our successful prevention of dropouts is particularly exciting for the 4% of our students who are early mothers (compared to over 50% in nearby schools). We ensure that 100% of girls who become pregnant come back to school and graduate. The WISER Girls Secondary School has evolved into a campus that specializes in confronting early pregnancy as we both prevent early pregnancies and refuse to give up on any young mother's education.

When girls stay in school and avoid unwanted pregnancies, their risk of HIV/AIDS is reduced, the probability that they raise healthy families is higher, and, ultimately, it means more girls grow into influential, educated leaders.

And at WISER, educating girls means more than just finishing school. Our students are among the top academic performers in their region. In 2017, our fifth graduating class qualified for national scholarships and university acceptance at nearly double the national rate. Furthermore, WISER girls continue to excel in STEM fields and 2017 marked the second year in a row that Physics was our highest-performing subject on national exams.

Central to our model is our commitment to finding dedicated, locally-based educators who are passionate about building a gender-safe environment for all of our students. The teachers and staff at the WISER Girls Secondary School go above and beyond in the name of their students' successes every single day.

The result? More teaching time made available to girls, more one-on-one consultations and tutoring, and a more comprehensive learning experience for hundreds of young women.


Muhuru Bay, Kenya is home to some of the country's highest rates of malaria, typhoid, and HIV. Many community members must walk for miles to reach the nearest clinic and often cannot afford treatment upon arrival.

To confront these challenges, WISER ensures that the minute a girl steps onto our campus, she is guaranteed full healthcare coverage. Healthcare is essential to ensuring young women have an uninterrupted path to academic and personal success.

Due to its location near Lake Victoria, the WHO estimates that about 45% of the people in Muhuru Bay contract a case of malaria each year. However, WISER students are protected thanks to nets in all of our housing, reducing their malaria risk by as much as 50%.

We also extend our health programs off campus and into the surrounding community. WISER currently houses the only water filtration system in Muhuru Bay. This system provides access to clean, filtered water for thousands of people in an area where drinking water is largely collected from unsafe sources, such as Lake Victoria

The same water system also provides WISER's campus, and all of our teachers and students, with clean, running water at all times. This helps us improve on-campus sanitation and hygiene for hundreds of students and all of our staff and their families.

Another key WISER health program is our sexual and reproductive health (SRH) training, which is available to all of our students and to over 1,000 youth in the region. WISER's SRH sessions are entirely planned and led by our students and alumni.

The SRH sessions empower both girls and boys to develop agency, bodily autonomy, and technical knowledge while also practicing effective partner communication and learning about disease and pregnancy prevention methods. This girl-led health initiative is our fastest-growing outreach program and the number of youth participating increased tremendously between 2016 and 2017.


Our investment in young women starts with providing the essential resources that girls need to thrive. Resource provision, as a part of our "whole-girl" approach, ensures that the WISER girls are physically, mentally, and emotionally healthy as they strive for success.

Unfortunately, for millions of Kenyan kids, severe poverty and food insecurity threaten school enrollment, lifespan, and health. We eliminate these threats by providing healthy and nutritious meals to all of our students, ensuring they can focus on their studies without worrying about their next meal.

For many girls in rural Kenya, poverty guarantees that, even when a girl can make it to school, she may not have the tools she needs to perform well. Girls often arrive to class without the pencils, paper, or textbooks necessary to learn. WISER makes sure no girl's learning is held back by providing all school supplies and learning materials for every student.

While school supplies, textbooks, and well-stocked classrooms all play a role in equipping a girl for her education, their absence may not keep her out of school as often as one other crucial resource: sanitary pads.

When girls in rural Kenya start their periods and cannot afford pads, they often stay at home and are out of class for several days each month. This causes girls to miss out on learning, fall behind, and end up with lower test scores and self-esteem. If a girl decides to use unsafe materials like rags or furniture stuffing to control her period and stay in school, she risks vaginal irritation, which greatly elevates HIV risk. To address this complex set of risks, WISER makes sure girls receive all of the sanitary pads they need to stay healthy and focused.

With sanitary pads, school supplies, all meals, and more provided by WISER, girls are free to focus their energy and time on their education and their passions. They are free to learn in an environment that provides holistic support. They are free to learn on a campus that values keeping girls in school. And most of all, they are free to pursue dreams that may otherwise seem out of reach.

Meet the WISER Team

WISER International Leadership

Top Row, From L to R: Dr. Sherryl Broverman (Chair), Carrie Arndt, Joseph Sanginiti, Dr. Sara Benjamin Neelon | Bottom Row, From L to R: Steve Tremitiere, Hardy Vieux, Michael Schreiber, Heidi Bowman

WISER NGO Leadership & Staff

Clockwise from L: Principal Dorcas Oyugi, Teacher Pauline Omondi with her class, Director of Studies Kennedy Mikula, Teacher Edwin Okoth

Our Most Generous Champions - WISER Donor Club Members

Clockwise from Top L: Melissa Katz, Chris Fletcher, Donald Lee Sheppard and Family, and Prashant Swaminathan and Ami Suchde

Financial Accountability - 2017

WISER is committed to high standards of financial transparency and accountability. Additional information about 2017 finances is available upon request. The reported revenue and expenses below represent WISER's fiscal year from January 1 to December 31, 2017.

Please contact us for any additional financial information.

WISER empowers girls in rural Kenya to overcome the barriers that stand in the way of their health, safety, and education. We are fighting, year in and year out, to offer girls critical opportunities for success while also remaining dedicated to the wider community of Muhuru Bay. Since opening in 2010, WISER has transformed the lives of thousands of girls and their families and made young women the face of positive change in the region.

We invite you to join the Global WISER Family

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