Jegol starts nonprofit to provide education in home country

Jacob Fulton | Staff Writer

Junior Kaleab Jegol is changing the world through education. 

Jegol is the founder of Education for Ethiopia, an organization that gathers funds and runs supply drives to improve conditions in Ethiopia, in hopes of helping the 100 million children not receiving an education.

Most recently, the nonprofit partnered with Mason HOPE Club to run a school supply drive from April 24 to 28. Jegol said his background inspired him to start the organization, which he founded last July.

“I’m an immigrant – I’m from Ethiopia – and last July, I was thinking about all the amazing opportunities I’ve gotten here in America,” Jegol said. “I realized that if I wasn’t here, I wouldn’t have gotten those, and I wanted to help the community I’m from.”

Spanish teacher Amy Ortega is a strong supporter of Jegol. Ortega said she has watched his organization grow from an idea to a movement.

“I met Kaleab his freshman year in my Spanish II class, and we just felt like we understood where each other was coming from,” Ortega said. “He came to me about what he was thinking with Education for Ethiopia. We talked about his goals and what he wanted to accomplish, so he could have a plan in place.”

Jegol’s idea began to take off after a series of opportunities from connections he made. After two months of work, he filed to make Education for Ethiopia an official nonprofit in the state of Ohio, and it was recognized soon afterwards. Jegol was also recognized by the United Nations, where he was named a UN Advocate for Quality Education and Gender Equality.

Jegol’s work with Education for Ethiopia has enabled him to give a TedX talk and resulted in his acceptance into the Hamilton Scholars program, a five-year scholarship that gives first-generation college students a chance to receive internship opportunities and college guidance.

Jegol said the talk he gave on March 8 was a great opportunity for him to get his message out to the Cincinnati community.

“I met the founder of the Cincinnati TedX branch at a retreat,” Jegol said. “I started talking to her and expressed my interest in giving a talk. When the opportunity came up, I got involved, (and) ended up giving a speech on the education crisis. It was amazing to speak to so many people and know that they were listening.”

Ortega said although she has offered assistance in some aspects of the process, the project is almost completely run by Jegol, something Jegol said was a goal of his.

“I’ve tried to help with publicity,” Ortega said. “I’ve also been able to attend some of the events he’s gone to for his nonprofit, (but) he’s done all of this on his own. He has the support of his family, teachers, and people around him, but this is his goal, and I just wanted to support him in any way I could.”

Jegol said his dedication was key to the success of the project, and that others recognized it.

“If you have enough passion about something, you’ll have no problem starting it,” Jegol said. “It’s obvious if you truly care, and if you do, (others will) want to help you. When you care, people want to see you succeed, and you will.”