The start of the school year is upon us here in the United States. And while summer-loving students might lament this time of year, others are celebrating the chances that a quality education offers to improve peoples lives. The women we feature this week are working hard to bring such learning opportunities to vulnerable communities of children, and to expand the minds of students of all ages through games, books and more.

Check out these 5 women-led crowdfunding campaigns:

1. Education for At-Risk Girls (via Indiegogo)

The Business: The institution of slavery is, sadly, still alive and well in the world. In Cambodia, a Southeast Asian nation off the Gulf of Thailand, girls are under particular threat of being forced into sex trafficking. In an effort to keep girls safe, while also offering them stability and opportunity, Lotus Outreach Australia (run by Jane Lyttleton) is doing its part to make education more accessible to them.
The Money: Within the next 29 days, the organization hopes to raise $25,000. Those funds will be used to cover tuition costs for 150 girls, as well as provide them with books, uniforms and more. Money will also go toward buying bicycles for the girls, allowing them to travel to and from classes quickly and safely.

2. Teaching Creativity to Kids of All Ages (via Kickstarter)

Credit: Kickstarter

The Business: Though it’s true that we continue to learn throughout our entire lives, we sometimes get stuck in mental ruts. Enter Designercise, a fun, colorful “ideation toolkit” that inspires creative, collaborative thinking by way of cognitive exercises. Created by New Yorkers and innovators Dr. Leyla Acaroglu and Yvette King, the kit encourages users to implement outside-the-box thought processes and methodologies for solving problems and approaching new projects.
The Money: By or before Sept. 24, Acaroglu, King and their team must raise at least $28,000. If they succeed, the funds will go toward developing versions of Designercise in other languages and for other age groups.

3. Literacy and Music for Romanian Students (via Indiegogo)

The Business: Connie Fortunato, director and founder of Music Camp International, and her team are trying to bring after-school music and literacy programs to students in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. This is the latest expansion effort for the organization, which has implemented such programs throughout Eastern Europe for 14 years. Fortunato’s dedication is rooted in her belief that music “transforms children socially and inspires them to transition into a life of responsible, compassionate citizens.”
The Money: Music Camp International has 60 days to raise $12,000. With that money, Fortunato and her team will buy supplies, including books and musical instruments, and compensate staff.

4. Knowledge, in Leaps and Bounds (via Kickstarter)

Credit: Kickstarter

The Business: Imagery can be illuminating. And to reveal what our seniors are capable of, documentary photographer Angela Jimenez has been photographing older male and female track stars at meets in the United States and Europe since 2007. “When I look at these older athletes, I don’t see them as representing the past; they represent our future,” she says. Some of her work has already been featured in The New York Times. But now, she’s looking to publish an entire book.
The Money: Jimenez is looking to raise $25,000 by or before Sept. 27 to cover editing, graphic design and printing costs for her finished work.

5. A Low-Cost, High-Impact Science Lab (via Indiegogo)

The Business: In Kigali, Rwanda, resides the Kepler-Tech Lab Project. There, scientists including QinQin Yu, June Park, Rosine Mwiseneza, Julienne Ishimwe and Marie Sharon Furaha are trying to bring university-level chemistry and physics courses to the city’s population. The women, who aim to use locally sourced, low-cost supplies to turn their vision into a reality, want the lab to help students use science to positively impact their surroundings. As such, it will focus on issues relevant to Rwandan students like recycling and energy.
The Money: The space, the lesson plans and a roster of interested students have already been secured. Now, the team is trying to raise $10,000 within the next 28 days to outfit the space, including by installing plumbing and electricity and buying necessary supplies.

Want to be featured in The Story Exchange’s Crowdfunding column? Drop us a line and tell us about your campaign at [email protected]