She’s the First is the fabulous non-profit organization dedicated to providing education for young girls in developing countries. The organization was founded by Tammy Tibbetts, with the help of Christen Brandt and a few other friends, all fresh out of college. According to the official She’s the First website, out of 130 million young people around the globe who are not in school, 70% are girls. The leading cause of death in girls ages 15-19 worldwide is complications from pregnancy. She’s the First recognizes the connections between educating girls and lowering maternal mortality rates, delaying pregnancy, and lowering poverty. The organization raises money in a variety of ways to sponsor education for girls all over the world: Kenya, Uganda, Guatemala, India, and Nepal.
CL had the opportunity to talk with Brooke Sassman, a student at Rutgers University who is working this summer as the executive assistant for She’s the First. Brooke told us about how she became involved with She’s the First, what the organization really does, and how you too can get involved and help this amazing cause.
College Lifestyles: What inspired you to get involved with She’s the First? Did you plan on working with a non-profit?
Brooke Sassman: Working with She’s the First just kind of happened. I didn’t really have the intention of working with a non-profit….I’ve been so media and journalism driven that I never considered non-profit as an option until meeting Tammy and learning about She’s the First. Tammy was working for Seventeen magazine and I entered a back to school contest: “Show Us Your Best Back to School Outfit”. I took a picture of my outfit, and she saw where I took that picture and that it was at a train stop she recognized. It turns out we’re from the same town! So I started following her on Twitter and saw all of the stuff she posted about She’s the First. I saw that it was such a great organization for girls in the U.S. and around the world, and I was really inspired to get involved.
CL: What does a typical day working for She’s the First look like for you? What are your main responsibilities?
BS: For me, my days can start out doing one thing and end doing something completely different. We’re staffed on a volunteer basis, so it’s usually me and Tammy in the office, and I can get involved with any kind of project! I first started with the concert benefit Girls Who Rock. I was working with the press committee, blogging, working on social media, and developing projects for press. I dabble in different projects, which is really great because it’s giving me hands-on experience in a lot of different areas.
CL: So you mentioned Girls Who Rock, and I know STF also does Tie-Dye Cupcake fundraisers. What is She’s the First’s most successful fundraiser?
BS: I would say Girls Who Rock. It keeps increasing every year. All the money goes straight to the girls. This year we had Haley Reinhart as the headliner. We rise in profits every year. We had raffles, we had those neon bracelets for people to buy…Twitter donated a screen that hung behind the performers and you could see live tweets of everyone who was tweeting about the show.
CL: What is the best way for someone to help out She’s the First?
BS: I can tell even from when I just started that She’s the First is expanding a lot. We recently started opening it up to more volunteers. I started tweeting to people, inviting them to volunteer information sessions. I contacted Tammy by e-mail through the website, that’s how I got started, so we get contacted from there too.
CL: If people choose to donate to STF, is there a way to tell exactly where their money is going?
BS: When we did Girls Who Rock, we did tell exactly where the money was going; it all went right to the girls. On our website page you can donate to us. There is absolutely a way to find out if you contact us. Another thing is, if you work for some Fortune 500 company, they often have a program where if you volunteer for a non-profit, they’ll donate to it. So we’re working on that right now, how to find out if you work for a company that does that.
CL: What is the process like to start your own campus chapter of She’s the First, or to find out if your campus already has a chapter?
BS: On the website, we have a list of our campus chapters. By this year, we should be hitting 40 campus chapters. We’re trying to send out Campus Chapter First Aid kits, which are donated materials, like a binder for important documents, that make them feel like a legit campus chapter. We’re sending those out for the first week of school. And if you want to start your own, everything you need to know is on our website.
CL: Can you tell me about She’s the First’s involvement in The Young Women’s Leadership Network School Summer Camp?
BS: Our first day of camp was on Monday. It’s a camp that combines Astoria, Jamaica (Queens), Brooklyn, and Harlem. Those campers all come together, about 140 girls (of middle school and high school age). They have different workshops throughout the day. This is the first time the camp has incorporated social media, and that’s provided by us. We’re teaching them how it works, how it can be used for good, and how one tweet can make a difference.
We’re presenting them with three challenges. One is a Tumblr blog: all of the campers have to submit two pieces of writing per week, like a school newspaper, and they are responsible for updating that. Then, the ones that allowed to have a Twitter, they get Twitter handles, and they learn how to tweet and use a hashtag. The hashtag is #myimpact…..The idea is #myimpact: “I’m not too young to make one”. And then their Instagram challenge is being ironed out this week. They’ll take pictures and tweet about it.
CL: What are you the first to do in your family?
BS: I had a feeling you would ask that! I wish I had a really good answer! I’m the first to have an internship and work in the city.
All photos provided by She’s the First.
Jenna Ballard is a rising junior at Hofstra University, double majoring in English and Global Studies. She loves movie marathons, trying new foods, and New York City, and hopes one day to become an editor so she can read books for a living.