Fullerton: Global Education Organization Rooted in Chicago

Fullerton Stop IconBy  Carolina Nascimento, Nicole Armour and Sam Rathke
The Red Line Project

Posted: Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2011

In an ordinary-looking apartment on an ordinary tree-lined street in Wrigleyville is the home and headquarters of something out of the ordinary.

Pangea Educational Development (PED) is a non-profit organization run by two college students and a fifth-
grade teacher out of their apartment on Chicago's North Side.

PED is an organization that focuses on the importance of education as a means of unity and empowerment in both in the US and abroad.

Pangea volunteers tutor at inner-city schools and refugee centers, including Refugee One and Sunlight African Community Center. PED launches campaigns, hosts fundraisers and takes service trips to Uganda every year.

Pangea Educational Development was founded last year by Andrew Bauer, 25, Drew Edwards, 20 and Kevin Oh, 20.

The three met in June, 2010, on a service trip to Uganda to work with underprivileged and underfunded schools in Uganda. The trip focused on spending time with the students and community members, forming deep friendships and offering encouragement.

Interactive map: Track PED's global outreach.

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While traveling between sites, the three young men sat in the in the back of a bus dreaming of a Uganda not reliant on external donations and aid from foreign countries, which are all just short term solutions.

The men said they believe in creating a sustainable education within the communities in Uganda that lack essential resources and opportunities.  The reality of these pressing needs led to the creation of PED.

PED is currently running the “Soles for Schools” campaign which consists of gathering thousands of shoes from high schools and universities to donate across seas. Also PED is trying to partner with Chicago Public Schools to strengthen their existing academic programs and bring awareness to PED.

Running a non-profit while also teaching or attending school, working, extra curricular and having a social life does not come without its challenges.

Bauer said, “I wake up at 5 [a.m.], I’m out the door by 5:30, I get back at 5:30 p.m. Knowing when we’re free and knowing we have separate lives other than this is key. Generally we work on weekends, too. Saturdays and Sundays are big for us.”

The men keep each other accountable throughout the week and their system and organization is impeccable. Their apartment is covered in lists and calendars with everyone’s responsibilities for the week, with either PED business and other obligations in their life that keep them incredibly busy. But at the end of the day, PED ties their lives together.

PED is a volunteer project with a community-oriented focus, based on building relationships with our client sites and building relationship within PED making it a more personal experience.

“We work tirelessly because of our love for people, for students, and the world,” Bauer said.

Last year, the men spent two weeks in Uganda with 20 volunteers, this next summer they plan on going to Uganda for two months with hopefully 50 volunteers.

As PED grows, the founders and volunteers are searching for new ways to address what the community in Uganda needs.

PED volunteers are in the planning stages of a possible new initiative dealing with women’s health and education in Uganda with an existing Women’s Empowerment group.

If they develop in the right direction and our board approves of them as a branch of our organization, it’s something that could launch this summer,” Edwards said.

Edwards explained, “The girls on the trip recognized that girls don’t really have options past high school.  The girls thought that what if they had more opportunities beyond that, what if we were able to establish a scholarship fund where they were making something and the money we brought in from what they were selling and making went into a scholarship fund.”

Within the year, PED has accomplished more than they thought possible and continue to pursue new initiatives revolving around strengthening the education system.

Oh said, “Education is the avenue to empowerment.”

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