The VAD Foundation

Peace through Education

The VAD Foundation is a nonprofit organization working in South Sudan to create community-driven development projects. Established by Valentino Deng and Dave Eggers after the publication of What is the What, the Foundation's first major project is the construction and operation of an 18-structure educational complex in Valentino's hometown of Marial Bai, South Sudan.

Marial Bai Secondary School (MBSS) has increased access to excellent secondary education, trained teachers, created equal opportunities for girls, and promoted literacy for children and adults in the region. MBSS is the highest ranking South Sudanese secondary school that is free for students to attend, a true leader in the movement to educate the new nation of South Sudan. 

Girls' Education

The VAD Foundation is committed to scaling our efforts to create learning opportunities for girls, improve girls' learning outcomes and transform harmful gender norms in society. That is why we built the Stephane Yulita Girls' Dormitory in 2010, allowing up to 115 girls to study at MBSS, and are committed to targeting out-of-school adolescent girls (those left behind by the formal educational system) in our forthcoming project South Sudan Employment Initiative

  •  Less than 1% of South Sudanese girls are studying at a secondary level. 
  • The World Bank has estimated that only seven girls for every ten boys attend primary education, while five girls for every ten boys are enrolled in secondary education. In 2013 only 500 girls were in the last grade of secondary school in the whole country.
  • Only 12% of teachers are female. Female teachers are essential to serve as a positive influence for girls to enroll and stay in school – such a low number plays a part in reinforcing gender disparities.
  • Literacy rates are remarkably lower for girls, 40% compared to 60% for boys.
  • With a maternal mortality rate of 1:32, a girl is seven times more likely to die in child birth than graduate secondary school. South Sudan has the highest maternal death rate in the world.
  • 91% of women in South Sudan are illiterate.
  • In South Sudan, a girl spends on average only 6 years enrolled in school.
  • 52% of girls are married before the age of 18.

The VAD Foundation in the News

Find out more about South Sudan, VAD Foundation history, and those who make it possible.

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Change a Life

Classes start in February. Marial Bai Secondary School's 500 students depend on generous supporters like you. Thank you for our supporters. We raised the $240K we need on January 3rd. You can still give to our South Sudan Employment Initiative and other great projects. 

100% of online donations go directly to fund programs. 


10 Years: A Look Back at the VAD Foundation's History