Girl Advocates — The National

Matt Berninger of The National asks fans to help educate girls in Guatemala

In October 2015, GRAMMY nominated band The National played two sold out shows in Los Angeles to introduce the world to the Thousand Girls Initiative—a campaign to educate 1000 girls in Guatemala through the nonprofit Cooperative for Education (CoEd). In 2016, Matt Berninger and The National are asking fans to help once more. As a celebrity advocate for the Thousand Girls Initiative, Matt sat down with us to talk about his support and his challenge to fans.

Why is educating girls something that’s important to The National?

I’m a feminist. Research tells us that one of the most effective ways for developing nations to change the cycle of poverty is by educating the girls. Research also shows that new businesses founded and run by women have significantly higher rates of success than those founded and run by men. Places where women and girls don’t get the same opportunities as men to educate themselves are very often the places in the most trouble.

Kimberly Perobal is the student The National is sponsoring. Kimberly entered the Scholarship and Youth Development Program in January. Her dream is to become a business manager and she says “My biggest goal is to break free from the poverty in which we currently live, and the only way to do that is through education.”

Kimberly Lucrecia Perobal Buch

Kimberly’s father dropped out of school at the end of 6th grade, while her mother only finished first grade. What would you like to say to Kimberly as she ventures into middle school?

Watch out for Algebra! I was a decent student but Algebra gave me a little trouble at first. I got it eventually.

So many organizations educate students in the developing world – why choose CoEd?

I’ve seen for myself how effective CoEd has been ever since it was founded 20 years ago. My cousins, Joe and Jeff Berninger, saw an opportunity to make a small difference in the world so they both quit their corporate jobs and founded this non-profit. They used their first grant to start a sustainable textbook program for one school outside Guatemala City. Thanks to CoEd and its supporters, the programs have expanded to include computer centers, reading, and scholarship programs. Now, there are 256 schools in the CoEd programs. The programs work. CoEd is one of the leading NGOs in Guatemala with a variety of sustainable education initiatives.

What would you say to someone who doubts that a single person can really make a difference?

Everything that ever made the world a little better started with one person’s good idea.