Alumna Travels to Tanzania to Build Schools for Community

Valerie Martin ’06 is a board member and fundraiser for the Uplifting Project, a nonprofit that provides educational resources to African villages.

It only takes five. Five people to make a difference to a village.

Valerie Martin in Tanzania

As director of communication and a member of the board of directors for the Uplifting Project, a nonprofit organization dedicated to making a difference in underprivileged African communities by providing educational resources, Valerie Martin ’06 is one of those five. And it’s not even her day job.

Working with the Uplifting Project is a passion that Martin has on the side, as she works full time as a marketing and communication associate for International Stone Collections, a custom artisan shop in Brooklyn that collects luxury stones from all over the world.

Martin may be one of five members who serve on the board of the Uplifting Project, but she’s just one of a number of those who support it financially. In only its first year of fundraising, the organization raised more than $20,000, which went toward building a secondary school in Tanzania.

Having seen the lack of educational resources during her first trip to Tanzania the summer after graduation with an organization called Cross Cultural Solutions, she felt the desire to continue her charitable work. It was on that trip that Martin met Rachel Moser, who in 2010 would become the founder of the Uplifting Project.

In the fall of 2011, Martin and Moser, working side by side, traveled to the village of Olasiti to fund and actually build the bathrooms and final classroom in the first secondary school for both the organization and the village.

“It was amazing to see how grateful they were,” she says. “You could do something, and it feels rewarding, and you know it’s going to make an impact, but to actually see the parents saying ‘thank you’ from the bottom of their hearts because their kids have a place to go to school now is really rewarding.”

At some point in the future, Martin hopes to devote her time fully to a charitable organization. But in the immediate future, the Uplifting Project will be assisting the community of Kikatiti, a village in northern Tanzania, by adding new classrooms and desks to the village’s primary school.