one million pencils


Lessons Learned at EPI

This summer I had a marketing internship with Empower Playgrounds, and for the first time I got to see how an NGO operates from the inside. Empower Playgrounds, if you haven’t read my post about them, is a Utah-based nonprofit that installs electricity-generating merry-go-rounds in Ghana, specifically to light the homes of children so that they can further their educations.

At EPI I got to work with Crys Lee, executive director of pretty much everything. EPI visits Ghana a few times a year, and even though they had an upcoming trip when I was with them, I was surprised to learn that a lot of what Crys focused on was not the trip, but the October fundraising gala.

And that was the first lesson that I learned about non-profits: no matter how good or interesting your idea is, without funds it’s going to be nothing. So much of my focus was on promoting the event through social media, developing plans to target the specific types of people who might be interested, putting my skills in graphic design to use and creating invitations and save-the-dates, and meeting with partners to discuss the most effective and creative ways to create a memorable event.

I think though that my favorite parts of the internship were when I was able to talk with Crys about her experiences in Ghana. I intend to visit someday, but for now I mostly know of it through stories and photos. Crys explained to me that EPI doesn’t limit themselves to merry-go-rounds--as they’ve encounter more stories, they’ve expanded their services to help in other ways too.

One of my favorite ways that I learned about them giving back is through menstruation kits, which they had just received a shipment of when I was there. I wrote a blog post about the kits when I was there, and I still think about how difficult and even frightening it must be to be a female student in a place with limited access to the hygienic supplies that I take for granted. There are students who work just as hard as I do, who miss out on a whole quarter of their education because of cultural stigmas, and factors far out of their control.

I’m grateful for the chance that EPI gave me to learn, not just about marketing, but about how it is that a small organization can affect so many lives, and about the students themselves. It was inspiring to see a fulfilled vision of impactful innovation, and made me feel even closer to the students that I’m trying to serve.

Meg Shriber