CROSO has a new Board President!

After serving as our CROSO Board President for the past 1.5 years, Lisa Hyatt stepped down in order to focus more of her energy on her growing family. We are thrilled to announce that Beth Garstki will fill this role moving forward. Below is her letter to the CROSO community.
Dear CROSO Community,
     I am both excited and humbled to step into the role of interim President of CROSO. While I recognize the value of my 5 years of work as Treasurer, I have often felt that I could contribute more, and in different ways, to the growth of CROSO. Ever since I visited Uganda in 2013 and met our scholars in person, I knew that CROSO would end up a huge part of my life – and to me, stepping up to fill the role of President seems a natural next step.
     Over the years CROSO has evolved from a mom-and-pop (quite literally!) organization to an organization run by excellent Board members and committees of volunteers who put their hearts into the work they do. I am honored to continue helping CROSO grow and look forward to guiding our organization through the transition of our Executive Director to a full-time role, which was effective July 1st.
     I am grateful to the other members of the Board for inevitable needed as we head into operating as an organization in transition, and for my predecessor Lisa Hyatt’s invaluable contributions to CROSO over the years. She is leaving big shoes to fill and I will do my best to live up to the excellent standards set by our extraordinary past presidents.
     I am grateful for our CROSO Scholars, who make it really easy to want to step into this role to help them achieve their goals and make positive change in their communities.
     Lastly, I am grateful to all of our supporters and members of the CROSO Community across the world. CROSO is changing lives, and your support makes that possible.
     Thank you,
     Beth Garstki
     CROSO President

Bowl for a Cause in Cincinnati!

We’re having our first CROSO event in Cincinnati, Ohio next month and we’d love for you to join us!

Bowl for a Cause

Wednesday, July 19th, 4-8pm E.T.
$15 per person
Teams will have 6-8 players
Everyone registers as an individual. After completing registration, CROSO will follow up with an email that will allow you to choose your team or ask to be placed on a team.

Registration is now open!

Proceeds from this event will support former street children in Uganda to attend universities and technical schools. Remember, bring cash if you’d like to donate a little extra to support our CROSO Scholars in Uganda!

Can’t make it to the event? You can still donate to CROSO…just visit our PayPal donation page here!

Save the Date: CROSO’s Celebrating 10 Years!

Mark your calendars now and start inviting your friends to join you for this fun event!

CROSO is celebrating our TENTH anniversary later this year and we’d love for you to join us! We will host our annual benefit on Thursday, October 5th at Monastero’s Ristorante & Banquets in Chicago. This will be a great opportunity to celebrate all the former street children who have had access to higher education in Uganda over these past ten years and to dream together about what the future will hold for CROSO as we grow.


We will be updating the registration page as the event nears!

New CROSO Board Member!

CROSO is fortunate to have a group of dedicated, engaged and passionate volunteers who serve on our Board of Directors. To learn more about the whole group, please click here.

Today, we welcome Meg McDermott as our newest CROSO Board Member!

Meg recently met CROSO’s executive director, Molly MacCready, and the two discovered that they both participated in the same study abroad program in East Africa! After reflecting on their shared love for Uganda and the entire SIT study abroad experience, Molly and Meg exchanged contact information to remain in touch and get Meg involved. Meg’s experience in Uganda was both educationally and personally formative. She left the country in tears, with a longing to stay and a respectful awareness of the resilience, culture, and need among the Uganda people that welcomed her into their lives.

As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a focus on mental health, Meg has recently started private practice in an outpatient mental health clinic in Wicker Park, Chicago. Prior to this new adventure, Meg worked as a residential therapist at Mercy Home for Boys and Girls, with 17-20 year old males who engaged in individual, group, and family therapy. There was never a dull moment and it was a privilege to partner with such amazing young people and be part of an incredible agency of co-workers.

Meg has a wide range of experience partnering with youth and families who have endured hardships as well as progress over time. Meg has forever been drawn to the mission of non-profits like CROSO, Heartland Alliance, and Mercy Home. Meg tutored a refugee family from Burma, who was a connection through Heartland Alliance. As a graduate student at University of Chicago’s SSA, Meg had an opportunity to travel to India and partake in the first annual Human Rights research trip with University of Chicago Law School to explore the impact of forced migration on people of Northern India. Along with educational travel, Meg has always prioritized travel in her personal life. An occasional marathon runner, Meg has supported non-profits through fundraising and is eager to contribute to the board and learn more along the way.

Through travel, educational, professional, and personal experiences, Meg continues to foster her commitment to the field. As a strong believer in the power of human connection and community, Meg is delighted to be a part of CROSO and contribute to something in both meaningful and effective ways.

Meg joined the CROSO Board of Directors in April 2017 and currently serves on the Scholar Support Committee.

If you’d like to get more information about joining the CROSO Board of Directors, please email



Astonishing Success from a Most Unlikely Place


Written by David Blumenthal, CROSO Board Member and Education Researcher
(Photos above are of CROSO graduates- Amos, Norah, Solomon, Titus and Lydia)

Let’s begin this blog with a sobering look at the rarity of success in higher education. It may be a shock to learn just how often students fail to earn their college degree here in the United States. The U.S. Department of Education reported last year that only 6 in 10 students beginning a 4-year college program in fall 2008 were able to earn their degree within 6 years. The dropout rates at 2-year programs was even higher and some have estimated that 2 in every 3 students at community colleges were required to take a remedial course in English or mathematics before they could begin their chosen program.

We know from research in the United States that dropping out comes with a big cost. American high school dropouts have problems getting a job, keeping a job, remaining in good health, staying out of jail, and even just staying alive.* For college students, dropping out has other negative consequences. Students that leave college without a degree fare worse than their graduate peers in the job market, but they often also face a double-whammy of carrying student loans without the economic advantage of a degree or certificate. In short, they get all the worst parts of college without the payoff at the end.

In Uganda, participation in secondary education, what we Americans call high school, is the exception, not the standard. The Education Policy Data Center reported that fewer than 20 percent of all youth ages 13 to 18 attended school in 2006.** While that number has been improving over time, only a small subset of youth go to secondary school and fewer still attend post-secondary education.

I think this helps to put the work of CROSO into perspective. Since CROSO began about 10 years ago, only a single scholar has ever dropped out of a post-secondary program. It would be understandable to expect the dropout rate for CROSO scholars, all of whom were former street children, to be much higher. These scholars did not enjoy the advantages of stable families and robust institutions that many in the United States enjoy. And yet, the scholars have far exceeded expectations of their peers in Uganda and even here in the United States.

CROSO is doing extraordinary work against the odds and is making a great difference. In coming years, the Board of Directors and Executive Director Molly MacCready will delve deeper into this success to understand its sources. We look forward to working with you, CROSO’s supporters and sponsors to share our results.



* Schoeneberger, J. A. (2012). Longitudinal attendance patterns: Developing high school dropouts. The Clearing House: A Journal of Educational Strategies, Issues and Ideas, 85(1), 7-14.
** To read more, visit the Uganda National Education Profile from 2014 at or a supplementary brief at