We've been involved with organizations that empower women for years, and it's a cause that's very important to us, both personally and professionally. The Ultraviolet Edge gives us the opportunity to take that support to another level, and it's something we take very seriously. Our co-founder Wende personally selects every organization, and we carefully vet each one to make sure that it embodies the mission of The Ultraviolet Edge.

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund supports women through economic, social and political programs; creating opportunities while addressing inequality, strengthening families and building communities. By providing women in post-conflict Uganda with microloans and a broad range of leadership development and education programs, WGEF helps them to gain economic stability and independence while rebuilding their lives and communities.

Women’s Global Empowerment Fund was created in 2007 in response to the 25-year brutal insurgency in northern Uganda. In this post-conflict region, women and children have experienced unimaginable violence and chronic poverty. The insurgency left the region unstable, economically stagnant, and vulnerable to security issues.

Northern Uganda is now in full recovery, and there’s hope for lasting peace and reconciliation in the region; what’s needed now is a comprehensive support package, including access to clean water and sanitation, health services and education. This is where the Women’s Global Empowerment Fund is making an impact on the community and providing an opportunity for sustainable human development. The women in the WGEF program are going to school, feeding their children and creating viable businesses.

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After being displaced by the war, and living for years in a camp with her family, Grace became a WGEF client in 2009 and was one of the first peer counselors in the program. Now a student and an elected official in the Gulu District, she's currently running for regional office and intends to run for a seat in the Ugandan Parliament in the next election.

Photo Credit: Jen Davidson

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In 2015, we made our first donation to Women's Global Empowerment Fund, which provided the following for women in Uganda:

  • Microloans and business training more than 1,000 women
  • Literacy programs for 216 women
  • Leadership development initiatives ensuring women have “a seat at the policy table”
  • On-the-ground infrastructure and local staffing to support the program, including fully funding the access to justice 24/7 hotline


In 2016, we’ll continue to partner with Women’s Global Empowerment Fund to support a number of initiatives.

  • Gulu Women's Resource Centre: This one-stop center will provide essential support, information and education to women and girls in northern Uganda.
  • Women's Bakery Project: This project will enable WGEF to expand into Haiti, giving women there the framework and tools to create a social enterprise by using local resources to bake and sell nutritious breads and bakery products. This will not only provide their communities with a sustainable, higher-protein alternative to existing food sources, but also help the women gain entrepreneurial skills and promote economic development within their villages.
  • Existing programs: Funds raised this year by the Ultraviolet Edge will also help to further expand and build capacity in some of WGEF's current programs:
    • Literacy program: In 2016, our contributions will enable WGEF to provide literacy programs for 400 women.
    • Access to Justice Initiative: This program provides critical information and resources to women regarding their legal and human rights within the justice system.
    • Loan Fund: Expanding this program in 2016 would provide approximately 900 women with the opportunity to create a business or agricultural project.
    • Kikopo Pa Mon: This annual drama festival gives the women a vehicle to speak directly to men and community leaders, addressing issues like gender inequality, violence, land rights and food security.
Karen Sugar, Founder and Executive Director of WGEF

Karen Sugar, Founder and Executive Director of WGEF


Karen Sugar has spent the majority of her adult life working for social justice. She helps women and families living in poverty, creating solutions that improve security while empowering women.

In 2007, Ms. Sugar created Women's Global Empowerment Fund based on her belief that bundling microcredit with social programming not only alleviates poverty, but also can be the basis for revolutionary change. She works in the Gulu office of WGEF several weeks a year, facilitating trainings, visiting businesses and listening.

“The motivation behind WGEF is based on the belief that women are natural leaders and, when given opportunities, they are able to determine their own futures, play an important role in their communities and countries, and rise above poverty with dignity. Four years ago, these women had no idea they even had a future. Women who faced unimaginable violence and poverty are now running businesses and sending their kids to school and running for political office. That's a testament to the resiliency of the human spirit.”
– Karen Sugar

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Kakenya Center for Excellence (KCE) is the only primary boarding school for girls in the Maasai village of Enoosaen, with 183 students currently enrolled in 4th through 8th grade. Since 2009, the school has served the area’s most vulnerable and underprivileged girls and focuses on academic excellence, health education, female empowerment, leadership and community development. The program takes a holistic approach to educating girls, simultaneously providing for their academic, social and physical needs. KCE has integrated health and leadership components into its curriculum, teaching the girls to speak up, be confident, and protect and value their bodies as they pursue their dreams. The school provides a safe, nurturing environment for students to focus on academic excellence, while avoiding the harmful cultural traditions that keep girls from continuing with their education.

In 2011, KCE launched its Health and Leadership training program to provide at-risk girls with important health information and leadership skills training. This program allows KCE to not only enhance the educational experiences of its students, but also reaches girls outside the boarding school with critical information at a time when they are at risk of undergoing female genital mutilation (FGM) and early forced marriage. The Health and Leadership program has reached 3,000 girls and boys throughout the region.

In 2013, KCE created the Network for Excellence program to provide its first graduating class with the support needed to thrive in high schools throughout Kenya. In 2016, all 95 alumnae will receive financial support; mentorship; and social, academic, and career guidance to help them succeed in high school and beyond.

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Linet Moposhi's success story

Linet Moposhi graduated from KCE and later transitioned to the Network for Excellence program. A role model for what can happen when girls are given an opportunity to dream, this 16-year-old hopes to one day be a cardiologist at Harvard University.

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Without KCE, these girls would be at risk of FGM and early forced marriages.

Our donation also supported the Health and Leadership training program, which improves knowledge about sexual health and child rights.

Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD, Founder and President of KCE

Kakenya Ntaiya, PhD
Founder and President of KCE


Kakenya Ntaiya was born in a small Maasai village in Southern Kenya. Her life was supposed to follow a traditional path. When she was 14, a crowd of villagers gathered at her home for a ceremony that would mark the end of her education and the beginning of her preparation for marriage. With no anesthesia, a village elder used a rusty knife to cut her private body parts.

But Kakenya had a different plan. She negotiated with her father that she would undergo FGM only if she could also finish high school. He agreed. She then negotiated with the village elders to do what no girl had ever done: leave her village to attend college in the United States. She promised that she would return someday and use her education to benefit the village. Kakenya received a scholarship to Randolph-Macon Woman's College (now Randolph College) in Virginia and continued her education at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a doctorate in education.

Kakenya is now fulfilling her promise to her community. She takes her message about the importance of girls' education to every corner of the world and shares the victories that can be won for girls—all in spite of harmful cultural practices and traditions.

“I believe that education will empower young girls to become agents of change in my country and beyond.”
– Kakenya Ntaiya

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Since 1993, Her Justice has provided free legal services to low-income women in New York City, especially the most underserved members of the community.

  • 52% are Latina, 25% are African-American and 14% are Asian or from another minority group.
  • 85% are survivors of domestic violence.
  • 69% are mothers.
  • 71% are foreign-born, and 1 out of every 4 women cannot access the legal system without an interpreter.

Legal services agencies typically turn away 8 out of 9 people who seek their help because there are not enough lawyers to meet the overwhelming need. Nearly 90% of women in civil court do not have a lawyer. This shortage of legal services takes its hardest toll on women, especially single mothers.

Her Justice recruits, trains and mentors volunteer attorneys from law firms to stand side by side with women who cannot afford to pay for a lawyer, giving them a real chance to obtain legal protections that transform their lives—orders of protection; custody of their children; child support; divorces providing safe visitation arrangements, essential health insurance and fair financial settlements; and immigration status and the right to work legally in the U.S.

Her Justice brings the power of the legal profession to those who need it most, giving abused women and their children a chance to survive and thrive.

Natalie's success story

NATALIE’S JUSTICE: Her Justice secures freedom and financial security for an abused mother and her daughter.

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Our donation to Her Justice enabled 625 women to take control of their lives, stabilize their families, and protect and care for their children:

Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice

Amy Barasch, Executive Director of Her Justice
Photo credit: Shawn Morgan Photography


Throughout her distinguished career, Amy Barasch has been a champion for women suffering from poverty and abuse. As Executive Director of the New York State Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence, she advised the Governor and executive agencies on policy issues relating to domestic violence. As a member of the New York City Mayor's Office to Combat Domestic Violence, she headed the City’s first Family Justice Center. Amy has also evaluated domestic violence programs for governments and nonprofits nationwide and represented hundreds of abuse victims in Family Court.

“Her Justice fills a vital gap in legal services for poor women by enabling the private sector to use their power for good. Our volunteer attorneys level the playing field, helping our clients avoid destitution, get and stay safe, and remain united with their families. It’s a life-changing experience for everyone. And for many of our volunteers, it’s a reminder of why they went to law school!”
– Amy Barasch

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Our donation will provide funding for 500 Women to receive shelter from Laura's House. The mission of Laura's House is to change the social beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that perpetuate domestic violence, while creating a safe space to empower individuals and families affected by abuse.

Since 1994, Laura's House has provided shelter and support services to more than 4,300 battered women and children, as well as counseling, life skills education and legal assistance to more than 48,200 people. Laura's House operates on the philosophy that domestic violence is a multidimensional social problem that is often cyclical in nature and that must be addressed through a range of programs and activities.

Laura’s House offers a comprehensive range of services for the entire family, including:

  • Emergency shelter and safety net (serving more than 300 women and children per year)
  • Counseling (serving more than 650 clients per year)
  • Violence prevention education to at-risk teens (serving more than 8,000 teens per year)
  • Legal services (serving more than 350 clients per year)
  • 24-hour crisis hotline (serving more than 3,000 callers annually)

One of the main goals of Laura’s House is to provide a refuge to women and children escaping life-threatening family situations. The organization operates under the belief that everyone should have the right to feel safe in their own home.

Laura’s House provides information and resources that help people who don’t know where to turn or how to end violence in their lives. These people are given a place to live, learn, trust and heal their physical and emotional wounds. Laura’s House offers counseling and training that helps clients become self-sufficient and empowers them to engage in healthy relationships. Families who wish to stay together are given the skills to reunite in a healthy way.

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Margaret Bayston, CEO/Executive Director of Laura's House

Margaret Bayston, CEO/Executive Director of Laura's House


Margaret Bayston has made it her life’s work to support victims of domestic violence. She began volunteering in the legal department at Laura’s House in 1997 and was hired full-time as a legal advocate the following year. In 1999, she was promoted to Operations Director, and in 2001, she became CEO/Executive Director.

In her years at the helm of Laura’s House, Margaret has grown the organization into the largest nonprofit dealing with domestic violence issues in Orange County. During this time, she oversaw the rebuild of a 50-bed emergency shelter and a transitional housing program, as well as the opening of two successful resale stores in Lake Forest and San Juan Capistrano that help fund the programs offered by Laura’s House.

Margaret credits her success to her talented team and the strong, trusting relationships she has built in the community. She believes that education is key to breaking the cycle of domestic violence. She wants to ensure that the Orange County community is aware of Laura’s House and the services and resources they can provide to anyone who needs their assistance, regardless of their ability to pay.

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