We would like an experienced individual who would help and advise on grant applications and establishing corporate links in order to maintain the high standards at our free school including free education, breakfasts and uniforms.
Extra Mile relies heavily on individual donors and fund raising activities (carried out in Rugby) to maintain its monthly costs to run our free school in Sierra Leone. Fund raising has been severely curtailed this year (because of Covid) however we can sustain our regular outgoings in the short term. The bigger picture is that in January 2019 we commenced building Phase 2 of our school which now remains unfinished until we can find the capital funds to complete it. Because fund raising activities are curtailed we cannot hope to raise the necessary funds in excess of our monthly outgoings in anything like the timescale we have set ourselves and particularly for the next intake in 2021. Our school hosts approximately 130 children which we hoped would increase to 220 by 2021 and beyond. For those reasons we wish to improve our success rate in grant applications and also if possible link with a corporate organisation who can take the pressure off the long term necessity to rely on individual donors. Extra Mile prides itself on providing free breakfasts, uniforms and education within the Sierra Leonean educational framework so that our children can break the cycle of poverty in which they and their families find themselves. We have made a commitment to the local people that we will also assist with adult literacy and numeracy and provide a free library based on the school premises. We are also very proud of the fact that approximately only 5% of our outgoings are spent on administration. The only people we pay are the qualified staff who work at our school. There are no paid Trustees or volunteers in the UK. We have a range of professional expertise on our Trustee Board, particularly in the Education sector, and rely on those same people to manage the various aspects of our charity. We are still led by the founder, Mike Fielding, however at age 72 we now share much of the burden he has carried for the last 11 years. We would like the help and advice of an experienced person to take advantage of the many grant opportunities which seem available but are difficult to break into. We are working hard to achieve that goal ourselves but feel we could benefit from a "seasoned" adviser and bid writer. The reason I volunteered in Sierra Leone and the reason I became a trustee of the charity is that I know all our funds are directed to the benefit of the children.
Ideally our volunteer would have corporate contacts or knowledge of how to engage with industry to help us provide the necessary long term finance of the school and its children. An ability to "sell" our work to grant making bodies and thereby break into what sometimes appear to be very small circles of opportunity. As we have all got used to the Zoom era in the past few months there is no need to be located near the charity base in Rugby. (In fact out of our 11 trustees in the UK we are spread between East Sussex and the North West of England) and meet regularly online.
Writing bids and understanding the criteria of the grant making body are skills which would be required but also to help and advise those trustees already engaged in that work. A "forensic" attitude to rooting out potential funders and identifying the most likely candidates would also be most useful.
The nice to have part would be a personable style and ability to fit in with a team of people dedicated to a good cause for no other reason than altruism!
Our beneficiaries will be our students and their families. They live in extreme poverty with little or no prospect of employment other than street trading, fishing or breaking large rocks into smaller rocks for building purposes. (The latter sell by the "headpan" at 50p per pan). If they can pass the examination system in Sierra Leone they can press on to further education or by virtue of reading and writing skills can broaden their opportunities. As our school is only 4 years old we have not yet had any leavers however we will be looking towards a careers input in the final year. Part of our strategy is to engage with the parents to ensure that they support their children through education and not resort to the limited traditional ways of making money. We will do this by providing a community library and computer skills utilising the internet. We are non denominational however the majority of our students have a Christian or Islamic faith. Part of the culture is a male dominated family structure which may incorporate FGM and a treatment of girls as second class. We already embody empowerment for women and girls into our curriculum in order to eventually eradicate these practices. but it is a slow process. Our school is one of the few which has a policy of "no corporal punishment".
Finishing our building will be the priority for the next year whilst maintaining our existing commitments. Extra Mile started life as a means to volunteer to teach in Sierra Leonean Schools and to date we have supplied over 50 volunteers to local schools in the area. The third part of our long term plan is to build volunteer teacher accommodation on the top floor of our school in order to continue that service however that cannot be contemplated until we have finished our classrooms..
I travelled to Sierra Leone as a volunteer in 2016 when the school first opened. I met the students and the staff and it was such a rich and rewarding experience that when I returned I was invited and agreed to join the Board of Trustees in the UK. The personal satisfaction it gives me to be part of a small hands on organisation providing maximum long term benefits to extremely disadvantaged people is more than enough reward for the work I put in. Anyone wishing to share that experience would be more than welcome to join us. A few of our trustees have made that trip (always self financed) and the opportunity to do so is always available.