What an amazing month this has been!

Written by Molly MacCready, CROSO's Executive Director

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Our sold-out 10th Annual CROSO Benefit on October 5th set the stage for an amazing month ahead. Thanks to our awesome Annual Benefit Committee, dedicated CROSO Board members, passionate volunteers and, of course, our generous supporters, the evening was a complete success! With 200 people in the room, this was by far our largest CROSO event yet and the energy in the room was palpable. It was a room full of people excited to connect with one another and to hear new stories about the CROSO Scholars. I was honored to stand on that stage and share what an amazing impact this community of supporters has had on a group of resilient young people in Uganda. And I was humbled to stand at the back of the room as paddles were raised in continued support of these scholars. The event raised over $75,000! Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! (To see more photos of the event, click here!)

Just over a week later, I headed down to Cincinnati where we held an event to spread the word about CROSO to this new community. With 15 key people in the room, we shared stories about our scholars, about our partners at C.R.O. and talked about the power education has to transform individuals and communities. At the end of the night, I could tell we had found the right group of people to lay the foundation for this new base of support in the U.S.-- passionate educators, social justice advocates and folks interested in making a difference. I spent the rest of the week at the University of Dayton-- meeting with professors and talking to classes. We are hoping to have some interns for the spring semester and are looking to partner with UD in other ways as well!

Last week, back in Chicago, we hosted our first formal training for CROSO Liaisons. The CROSO Liaison program started 6 or 7 years ago and has evolved into a integral component of the CROSO Scholarship program. Each scholar gets paired with a CROSO Liaison in the U.S. who writes monthly letters to our scholars providing encouragement, support and guidance. These CROSO Liaisons serve as mentors to our scholars as they navigate their academic experiences and prepare to find employment following graduation. The training was a great success with folks participating in person and remotely. We're excited to continue developing this aspect of our program.

Finally, throughout the background of all these events, I have been eagerly anticipating our upcoming trip to Uganda. Tomorrow, I will meet up with Margy and Randy Roberts at the airport to embark on a two week trip to Uganda to visit our scholars! Margy has been on the CROSO Board of Directors since 2012, serving on the Scholar Support Committee and as a CROSO Liaison. She and her husband, Randy, have been interested in going to Uganda to meet our scholars in person for several years and we are so thrilled that the time has finally arrived!

In the next two weeks, the three of us will visit our scholars in both Kampala and Mbale, meet with C.R.O. staff members, and visit a few of our scholars' universities and colleges. We also have been laying the groundwork to start a CROSO Ugandan Advisory Board and will be meeting with a few potential advisory board members while we're there. I encourage you to follow our journey via Facebook and Instagram to see photos and updates over the next couple weeks.