Evanston Township High School student launches girls’ education fundraising platform


Source: Brynn Aaronson

Brynn Aaronson. The ETHS student recently launched a fundraising platform for organizations that promote education for girls in underserved countries.

Thea Showalter, Reporter

Brynn Aaronson keeps as busy as any typical high schooler. She performs in theatre, competes on the speech and debate teams, sings with a vocal jazz group and writes for The Evanstonian, Evanston Township High School’s student paper.

In spite of all that, Aaronson recently launched “Educate Girls Everywhere,” a platform that aims to raise awareness and financial support for non-profit organizations that help to educate girls worldwide.

Aaronson, 15, was motivated to start the project after she visited Belize in 2015 with her family. She was 12-years-old and said she met some girls who talked to her about their lives in Belize.

“I realized they didn’t go to school. That was the first time I’d ever kind of heard about that,” Aaronson said. “I didn’t realize other people didn’t have schooling opportunities.”

For Aaronson’s Bat Mitzvah project, she said she designed and sold t-shirts to raise money to help educate girls in Belize. She raised over $3000, which put two girls through high school.

Aaronson kept in touch with the girls by writing letters back and forth with them. She said the girls told her about their school and Aaronson said she realized that their schooling situation was still not as good as it could be.

“I was reading those letters last year, and I was like, ‘I need to do more, this can’t just be a one-time thing,” Aaronson said.

Aaronson said that was when she decided to start an annual fundraising campaign for a different non-profit every year. This year she’s raising money for CAMFED Zambia, a non-profit that promotes female education throughout Africa.

Lauren Sinai, Aaronson’s mother, said that for her daughter, the trip to Belize was “an awakening of unfairness, and the importance of education.” After Brynn’s mitzvah project, Sinai said she remembered the experience of receiving the letters from the two girls in Belize.

“They’re sending her their report cards and Brynn’s just shedding tears of joy that they’re learning,” Sinai said. “Seeing the impact, seeing through their words, the impact – for them, education was a dream that they didn’t think they’d ever get.”

Aaronson said she also received lots of support for her project from her friends, women’s empowerment groups at her school and professionals willing to donate their time and resources.

Two such professionals were Bradley Egel and Jeff Rashid, Aaronson said. They helped her build a webpage and design the products she is selling to raise money.

Rashid, a friend of Aaronson’s family, said he liked the fact that Aaronson took so much initiative with her project and that she liked to do so much of it alone, but he was happy to offer professional suggestions and support for her designs and artwork.

Rashid, who has known Aaronson ever since she was a baby, said he was interested and intrigued by how she has gained the experience to run a small business, but most impressed by her initiative and passion.

“Even with the business knowledge, without that passion, it wouldn’t go anywhere. She’s developing that combination that could potentially be very successful,” Rashid said.

Egel, an account executive at Custom Specialty Promotions, said Aaronson’s family reached out to him when Brynn was planning for her mitzvah project.

Egel said he was “very moved” when he heard what Aaronson was doing.

“She has a wisdom about her that’s way beyond her years. Anyone can be taught to do marketing, but it’s implementing those skills and those learned activities that really creates the buzz,” Egel said.

Egel said he’s seen a lot of people get moved by an event that happens or a situation that’s happening around the world, but over time their excitement “fizzles.” He said people like Aaronson “play an important role on this earth.”

“Not only does she have a passion for the cause, but she has a real passion for putting in the work. And that’s a huge difference that sets Brynn apart,” Egel said. “It’s a very humbling feeling when you feel your own privilege, and I think that she felt that.”

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