Nonprofit organizations are my favorite clients. It gives me a warm-and-fuzzy feeling to be able to use beautiful imagery to show the world the good they do. But the true joy in working with these organizations is in meeting the amazing people that they help.
I've been working with She's the First since it was founded a little more than three years ago. She’s the First is a nonprofit that sponsors girls’ education worldwide, helping them become the first high school graduates in their families. By encouraging young Americans to lead their own creative fundraisers and interact with sponsored girls, we foster leadership and global awareness here at home.
As She's the First's photographer, I've visited girls we sponsor in Guatemala and India. The drive of these young women is truly inspiring; my goal is that their stories encourage others to become sponsors, as they did for me. During my first trip to Guatemala with She’s the First, I heard the powerful story of 13-year-old Ana Teresa and decided on the spot to sponsor her education. Ana's held eight different jobs since the third grade to help support her family, but through it all, she continued to study and is the only member of her family to finish elementary school.
In India, I met Maheshwari, who graduated in June and is the first person in her family to receive a high school diploma. She's determined to raise her mother out of poverty and take her with her where ever she ends up. She is now in her first semester of college, where she studies biotechnology and genetics and hopes to someday become a cardiologist.
Meeting these young women has proven to me how powerful young people can be - both the students themselves, and the young Americans who creatively fund-raise to sponsor girls' education.
We've sponsored the education of nearly 300 girls - in only three years of existence.
She's the First is a finalist for this year's American Giving Awards, the grand prize winner of which will win $1,000,000 for development and growth. If we win, we can sponsor even more education and empower more Americans through leadership and global awareness. But we need your help - voting is open between Nov. 27 and Dec. 4. Each day during voting, I'll share an image I've made for She's the First via Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Help us change more lives in the years to come by voting for She's the First and sharing our cause with your networks!
Vote here: bit.ly/VoteShestheFirst
Follow She's the First on Twitter: @shesthefirst
Like She's the First on Facebook: facebook.com/shesthefirst
UPDATE:She's the First didn't win the grand prize, but we were awarded a $5,000 grant from Chase, with which we chose to create the Chase Your Dreams Award, a special sponsorship for one girl from each of our partner organizations. Thank you so much for all of our support!