Peggy was raised in a family that believed in the power and importance of education and that voluntary service work was something in which to engage as one way to give back to community and society. She excelled at school, which eventually resulted in her winning a prestigious Zawadi Africa scholarship and attended Harvard earning degrees in Chemistry and East Asian Studies. Her volunteer work with overcrowded and under-resourced schools in rural Tanzania catalyzed her thinking as a social entrepreneur and led to her founding PACEMaker, Intl in 2013 in Nairobi, Kenya.
This all led to the creation of PACE’s vision which is to work with others to create a Kenya where access to high quality education is the norm for all children, and where youth are empowered to lead productive change in their local communities. Peggy’s innovative idea was to implement this by recruiting recent high school graduates to volunteer in public schools as teaching assistants during what is essentially a built-in gap period of 6-9 months for those going onto university (or into employment). This solution is a win-win for the volunteers and for students (and their teachers). The youth receive valuable training, mentoring and experience including specific development in interpersonal skills, critical thinking, entrepreneurship and job readiness that help them to succeed in university and earn a living. The children and their teachers benefit from support in such areas as grading, tutoring, language instruction. More specifically the children attending these under-resourced classrooms get critical one-to-one support and are encouraged to engage in a range of other projects that help to improve their school environment and as well as after school activities and clubs. The tracking of both children’s academic progress and Fellows’ confidence and skills (organizational, communication, problem-solving and others) is showing exciting and very positive results. Interest and demand from schools and youth to participate in PACE has grown every year.
Since PACE was founded they have been tracking progress and evaluating what is happening – they have early evidence of their impact in schools: happier pupils, better academic scores and youth who continue to lead social impact initiatives in their communities after leaving the PACE program. Some alumni have gone on to pursue teaching as a profession and essentially all continue on to higher education at universities in Kenya, the African region and beyond. The brilliant idea of truly creating an ever-growing cadre of thoughtful, action oriented and entrepreneurial youth in Kenya is just now showing the potential of this as a multiplier effect for positive change locally. PACE’s work directly aligns with some of the new changes in the Kenyan curriculum and attention to creating service-oriented programs for youth.