Educational Institutions


Salt Lake City, UT


Mali Rising Foundation's mission is to empower the children of Mali, West Africa by improving access to and the quality of educational opportunities for them within their own communities. This mission will help achieve our vision – a fully functioning middle school within walking distance of every child in the country.

Ruling Year


Executive Director

Merritt Frey

Main Address

PO Box 277

Salt Lake City, UT 84110 USA


Mali, education in Mali, building schools, teacher training





Cause Area (NTEE Code)

Elementary, Secondary Ed (B20)

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Programs + Results

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Our programs

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

School Access

Educational quality


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Charting Impact

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

What are the organization's key strategies for making this happen?

What are the organization's capabilities for doing this?

How will they know if they are making progress?

What have and haven't they accomplished so far?

Overall Program Goal: Expanding access to safe, sustainable schools for Mali's children while maintaining our current schools.

2020 Objectives:
1. Educate at least another 1,500 students annually by constructing at least 10 additional schools by the end of 2020, using the most cost-effective and sustainable approach.
2. Make sure our schools are safe places of learning with quality water supplies, solar power, and associated infrastructure.
3. Ensure all of our schools are well maintained and supported by partner villages.

Overall Program Goal: Strengthening our schools' educational efforts to deliver real results for Mali's children's futures.

2020 Objectives:
1. Ensure full enrollment of village middle-school aged children.
2. Increase 9th grade graduation rate from 41 percent to 75 percent.
3. Improve the overall quality of education provided in our schools by improving access to learning materials, training our teachers, and more.
4. Ensure our schools are treat boys and girls equally.

Overall Program Goal: Provide support and tools to allow students to translate their education into better futures for themselves and their communities and connect Malian students with US-based students to facilitate learning exchange.

2020 Objectives:
1. Provide post 9th grade academic or vocational scholarships to at least 50 students.
2. Provide each of our schools with tools to stress the importance staying in school and graduating, and to provide advice on a wide variety of academic and vocational futures.
3. Implement at least 5 US-to-Mali school or youth group connection projects.

• Streamline our process for identifying partner villages for school construction.
• Update our school construction design to incorporate identified needs where necessary, revisiting the model at least every other year.
• Maintain existing sponsorship (corporate and individual) program for schools while expanding use of crowd funding and other innovative practices for school support.
• Survey our schools' water sources. Where necessary, partner with other NGOs to bring well improvements to schools/villages.
• Working with villages, school sponsors, corporate donors, and other NGOs, install solar systems in at least 50% of our schools and train local villagers to maintain the systems.
• Establish and implement annual maintenance review and rating system for schools.
• Work with villages to create a localized micro-fund for maintenance large enough to cover annual maintenance needs.
• Establish fundraising mechanism for on-going Mali Rising maintenance fund of at least $4,000 annually; create and implement guidelines for what we fund vs. villages fund.

• Support our teachers by providing the professional training and tools they need to succeed, by improving their situation in the villages, and by evaluating their work.
• Ensure all of our schools have at least 1 book per 3 children in each subject and basic teaching tools such as dictionaries, etc. Establish systems for ensuring appropriate use of materials and material retention.
• Provide hygiene facilities at all schools, along with training at least twice a year. Support girls' menstrual management needs.
• Integrate parents into school activities and engage in discussions about their concerns/questions and the benefits of education.
• Provide programming for girls, their parents, and teachers about keeping girls in school.
• Acknowledge and reward schools and villages for achievement on test scores, gender equity, and other key measures.
• Encourage more children to make the transition from primary to secondary school and assist 7th graders in making the change.

• Establish scholarship application process and implement fair selection process for annual awardees.
• Create system for monitoring scholarship students and reporting on their progress.
• Develop a “guidance counselor" project that provides support at each of our schools about career and education options, from farming to medical to vocational. This might include training our teachers in how to inform kids about navigating career paths, written information on education options, career days, speakers, or other tactics.
• Share current and former students' stories with US students, donors, and other Malian students.
• Develop opportunities for US-based schools and students to connect with Mali Rising schools and students.

Mali Rising's largest asset is our 13-year track record of partnership with our villages in Mali. These relationships are the bedrock of our work, and guide everything we do.

We also have a talented staff, both in Mali and in the U.S. -- see for information. This staff works with a very dedicated board of directors -- see -- who are very knowledgeable in construction, international development, etc.

In addition, we are supported by a solid volunteer corps which helps us do more with fewer resources. Volunteers include our Council of Advisers, energetic interns, a team of 50 volunteers working on our Girls Project, a variety of tradespeople and experts in Mali, and many others.

Progress indicators

# of schools constructed
% reduction in major maintenance backlog
% of schools rated good or great for self-maintenance status
% of schools with functioning maintenance fund
% of schools with easily accessible, safe water supplies
# of dollars in Mali Rising maintenance fund; #/value of maintenance projects funded

% of students passing DEF exam (e.g., graduating)
% of teacher provided with training, materials and peer support
% of schools with sufficient books and other materials.
# schools with balanced gender ratio
% of students dropping out
% of village middle school aged children enrolled

# of scholarships provided
# of students pursuing post 9th grade academic or vocational training
# of scholarship recipients employed after completion of high school or vocational training
# of student stories developed; social media power measures
# of US school presentations, # of US-Mali school project connections

We have just finished the first year of the plan containing the goals, strategies, and metrics described here. Just a few examples of our progress in the plan's first year (2016) include:

* Constructed a brand-new middle school in partnership with the village of Fadioubougou.
* Established a system for school maintenance inspections and inspected every school. Conducted maintenance on two schools.
* Hosted community meetings in the majority of our school villages to engage the community in a discussion about each school's priorities and needs.
* Provided 1400 textbooks to our schools.
* Launched a new project to recruit more girls to our schools and to help them thrive in school, reaching nearly 200 girls.
* Provided scholarships to 13 of our graduates, allowing them to go on to high school or a vocational training program (e.g., nursing, agriculture).
* Piloted a new project -- Classroom Connections -- to connect students in the U.S. with students in Mali through learning service projects.

External Reviews



Fiscal year: Jan 01 - Dec 31

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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.

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FREE: Gain immediate access to the following:

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  • Forms 990 for 2016, 2015 and 2014
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Board Leadership Practices

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations?



Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year?



Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year?



Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership?



Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years?


Organizational Demographics

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SOURCE: Self-reported by organization


Sexual Orientation

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Diversity Strategies

We track retention of staff, board, and volunteers across demographic categories
We track income levels of staff, senior staff, and board across demographic categories
We track the age of staff, senior staff, and board
We track the diversity of vendors (e.g., consultants, professional service firms)
We have a diversity committee in place
We have a diversity manager in place
We have a diversity plan