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!

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

Celebrating another CROSO Graduate!

Written by Molly MacCready, CROSO’s Executive Director
(Photo above is from 2013 of CROSO Scholar Norah with CROSO representatives Beth and Molly)

Tomorrow, CROSO Scholar Nakyeyune Norah will graduate from Kampala University! I am so excited for her and couldn’t be more proud to have supported her in her pursuit of a bachelor’s degree. With the hopes that you’ll share in Norah’s joy of her graduation from university, I’d like to share some of my thoughts about Norah with you.
(For those of you who would prefer a video, just skip down to the bottom and watch!)

  1. Some of you may remember at our Annual Benefit in 2013 (the year that Norah was selected) that we shared a video of several Scholars discussing their plans for the future. Norah stood out as she passionately described her lifelong desire to become…wait for it… an accountant! While many in the room giggled at her enthusiasm for this career, Norah could not have been more serious. Norah loves math and enjoyed her entrepreneurship classes in high school. As she moved forward with her university courses, that love only grew. This week, Norah will graduate with her bachelor’s degree in business administration with a focus in accounting.
  2. Norah is a “footballer” as she would say (American soccer player to those of us in the U.S.) and is so proud of that title! When I visited Uganda for the first time in 2006, I remember people laughing when I told them that I had played football for most of my life. Girls playing strenuous competitive sports was just not part of their culture. Seven years later, when I met Norah for the first time, I loved hearing her boast of her football successes and how it has helped make her feel like she belongs. Norah went on to play on her university’s women’s football team and found that it was a great way for her to make friends in a new environment. She also played on a local non-university affiliated team, so will continue to have football in her life even after she graduates this week.

    2016 Photo of Norah

  3. In addition to her physical strength, Norah has incredible emotional strength. Norah is the youngest child in her family, but will be the first to graduate from a university. Norah has overcome challenge after challenge in her life, but in talking to her, I have always been struck by her gratitude and the incredible perspective she maintains. In the video clip below, you’ll hear her talk about how lucky she was to only live on the streets for 3-4 months. Norah’s tenacity will continue to serve her well as she seeks employment and continues to navigate her career path.

Norah is an incredible young woman– articulate, thoughtful, focused and hard working. She has thrived at Kampala University, participating in sports, excelling in academics, volunteering at several different community organizations and completing internships in local finance offices. One aspect of the CROSO scholarship that I continue to be amazed by is how it allows for our Scholars to finally find that equal playing field with their peers. If you meet Norah, you too would be impressed by her and would not be able to tell that she ever had to live on the streets. In fact, that reminds me of something Norah said during my most recent visit to Uganda last June. Norah told me that some of her classmates thought she came from a wealthy background because her school fees were always paid on time and she never had to miss a semester. CROSO is grateful to have been able to provide that consistency to Norah’s academic experience and we can’t wait to see what she will do next!

2013 visit to Norah’s home in Namatala where she lived with her aunt.

If you have the time, please take a couple minutes and watch this unedited video from 2013. Norah shares her own story of what caused her to live on the streets and what amazing support she received from different organizations like World Vision and our partner organization, C.R.O. I love hearing her describe the love she received from the staff and other children at C.R.O.! She ends by talking about her next steps. Only days before this video was taken, she had learned that she’d been selected for the CROSO scholarship. You’ll pick up on some hints of disbelief still, but you’ll also see how very hopeful she was as she looked ahead to the possibility of university.