Launched in 2011 by the American Ambassador to Uganda, Jerry Lanier, the Rising Stars Mentoring Program is a young women’s empowerment initiative that inspires and equips them with leadership, employment, vocational, entrepreneurship and social/life skills.

Theory of change: “Transition into the workforce for vulnerable and economically disadvantaged young women is usually very hard. Equipping them with leadership, demand-driven job skills, support, internship opportunities and entrepreneurship skills enables them to become competitive and relevant in the market place as employers or employees.”

The project goal is to empower young women in secondary schools in Uganda by strengthening their ability to become active players in transforming their lives and prepare them to confidently and competitively enter the job market as employees or employers. Equipping young women with 21st century skills ignites their cognitive, critical thinking, innovation and inter-dependence, communication, creativity, leadership and financial literacy which are critical necessities for success in the global economy.

These skills enhance young women’s potential to excel in life and work through proper career planning, skills development and connect them to real work experience while still at school. The relevance of learning in secondary school is important given that this is the level from which many youth enter the labour force. Parents, community leaders and teachers are trained as support mentors so that they integrate the skills into the existing life style, structures and activities.