#Impact365: Funmi Iyanda’s NGO has touched over 3,000 lives!

Founded by popular television personality and media entrepreneur, Funmi Iyanda, Change-A-Life (CAL) is a nongovernmental that has impacted the lives of over three thousand young Nigerians.

In this interview with YNaija’s #Impact365 series, CAL tells more about their initiative and the impact they are making.

Could you tell us more about your NGO? 

Change-A-Life (CAL) is a social service non-profit organization with the mission to act as a bridge between people with academic, entrepreneurial and leadership potential yet great need and the individuals, agencies and organizations with the capacity and willingness to meet these people’s needs.

The organization was founded by Ms. Funmi Iyanda, Nigeria’s foremost TV talk show host, humanitarian and media entrepreneur as a project in 2002 but it has since metamorphosed into a fledgling non-profit organisation reaching out to over 3,000 program beneficiaries since its inception with 300 beneficiaries still under its care.

The organization’s mandate is to identify the needs of people in our communities and channel our resources towards fulfilling those needs. Our program delivery is channeled through educational scholarships, life skills & vocational training, business grants, young adult mentoring, adult and community education, women and empowerment.

How did the Change a Life Nigeria start? 

Change-A-Life was started by Ms. Funmi Iyanda as a humanitarian call and good gesture in the race to save a little boy who had a hole in the heart. The boy eventually died but the funds that were raised saved two other children’s lives. Immediately after this, Ms. Iyanda then solicited the support of the former Governor of Lagos State, Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu to start an intervention project on her TV talk show, New Dawn with Funmi. She wanted to show how giving so little could go a long way in helping the less privileged in our communities. Ms. Iyanda asked viewers of her TV show to write on how the sum of ten thousand naira (N10,000) can change their lives. At the end of this exercise, 68 people were awarded grants to start micro-businesses and also pay their children’s school fees.

What strategy do you use in providing opportunity for people in need or the less privileged?

Change-A-Life’s engagement strategy is structured into five program areas that form the fulcrum of positive development. These core areas are:

Holistic Educational Scholarship (HES): The Holistic Educational Scholarship (HES) program provides grants and support deserving children and young people (who are orphans, from single parents, resource constraint and indigent families) with excellent academic potentials from primary to post-secondary levels of education. Every Academic Year, Change-A-Life Foundation provides scholarship to its beneficiaries in primary, secondary and tertiary schools in Nigeria

Women in Business (WIB): this scheme is a support mechanism that involves entrepreneurship workshops and management training for single mothers, unskilled women and widows on sustainable livelihood and becoming economic & socially independent. Selected women who receive business start-up capital from the foundation are managed under our Women-In-Business (WIB) program. The grant process is done twice in a year and so far we have given grant and financial support to over 120 women and trained over 200 women since inception. Applicants are screened through two intake interviews, successful applicants attend the CAL Entrepreneurial Workshops, skill acquisitions and mentoring programs before grant is awarded. Bi-monthly monitoring is carried out through random and pre-arranged inspection of grantees’ businesses to check for progress and sustainability.

GAP Year Initiative (GYI): Change-A-Life GAP Year Initiative is a periodic intensive skill acquisition programme of experiential learning, which combines information technology education, life skills, one-on-one-mentoring, self-development workshops targeting young people mostly CAL beneficiaries that have completed their secondary schools and  are trying to gain admission into tertiary institutions. The program so far has had skill building sessions in form of classroom sessions, dialogues, hands-on training and personal exploration.  The topics so far covered are Life building skills i.e. assertiveness, relationship & friendship, refusal skills, body integrity, computer appreciation, MS office suite (MS Word, PowerPoint,   social media & internet usage.

Children, Adolescents and Women Wellbeing (CAWW) Programme: Change-A-Life is involved in the wellbeing and development of our target populations. We take it as a mandate to be part of projects, initiatives and activities that will be of immense benefits and improve the quality of life of our target audiences. We are involved in issue based thematic areas such as child nutrition, health & education, Adolescent’s & Youth Empowerment in RSH, civil engagement & participation and family health and wellbeing.

Our interest in issued based interventions is to afford us the opportunity to add value to the wellbeing of our beneficiaries and communities. We intend to work with development agencies such as United Nations Children Fund (UNICEF), United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), Save the Children, PLAN international, Global Fund for Children, Global Fund for Women, WaterAID and other donors, development agencies involved in children, adolescents and women development.

Capacity Building & Support: Under this platform Change-A-Life partners with different NGOs to provide technical support and to reach a wider populace in addressing diverse developmental issues.

Do you provide educational grant/scholarship? If yes, could you tell us about it?

Yes we do, through our Holistic Educational Scholarship (HES) Scheme. Our Holistic Educational Scholarship (HES) program provides grants and support deserving children and young people (who are orphans, from single parents, resource constraint and indigent families) with excellent academic potentials from primary to post-secondary levels of education. The program also provides psychosocial support and counseling for the selected beneficiaries. Since 2002, Change –A-Life has awarded scholarships to 300 brilliant children of indigent parents/guardians and orphans.

The Foundation has an initiative in which it raises funds to support the beneficiaries which is the Adopt-A-Child Initiative. The Adopt-A-Child initiative is a remote adoption scheme of Holistic Educational Scholarship (HES) program considered to solicit philanthropic aid by having individuals, groups and organisations willingly sponsor or support one or more beneficiaries for one or more academic session/calendar.

Could you tell us more about the ‘Give Back to Society strategy’ of your NGO?

We give back to the society in two ways, during our annual children’s day celebration and during our annual January 1st TV Special. It’s a tradition for us to celebrate the Children’s Day with our beneficiaries and other community members comprising of children from special homes, primary and junior secondary schools all across Lagos state every year. This event is usually graced by renowned personalities and celebrities to help give hope to the children, gifts as well as merry with them.

In the same vain, our annual Change-A-Life (CAL) TV Special is a live TV show broadcast on the 1st of January every year as a platform to highlight keen issues, celebrate philanthropic and corporate social responsibilities to encourage and promote the Nigerian youth as a viable and productive member of the society. The selected guests are featured for being a source of inspiration and encouragement to the young people who aspire to succeed in their various life endeavors. Sitting Executive Governors of Lagos State have been special guest on the show alongside everyday Nigerians, celebrities, some of our beneficiaries, and supporters of the Change-A-Life vision.

The show is designed to foster a sense of hope, encourage and highlight transformational leadership, showcase and reward ordinary Nigerians doing extra ordinary things and highlight our interventions for the past year. Over the years the show has hosted Asiwaju Bola Ahmed Tinubu, Former  Governor of Lagos State, His Excellency Babatunde Raji Fashola (SAN), the first female chairman of First Bank Nigeria, Mrs Ibukun Awosika, Minister of Information and Culture: Alhaji Lai Muhammad“  and lots more.

You also have another programme, The Change-A-Life GAP Year Initiative. How does it work?

Yes we do. Our GAP Year Initiative (GYI) is a periodic intensive skill acquisition programme of experiential learning, which combines information technology education, life skills, one-on-one-mentoring, self-development workshops targeting young people mostly CAL beneficiaries that have completed their secondary schools and are trying to gain admission into tertiary institutions.

The program so far has had skill building sessions in form of classroom sessions, dialogues, hands-on training and personal exploration.  The topics so far covered are Life building skills i.e. assertiveness, relationship & friendship, refusal skills, body integrity, computer appreciation, MS office suite (MS Word, PowerPoint,   social media & internet usage.

Our Self Discovery is a capacity building platform conceptualized for  teenagers, adolescents and young people mainly those from disadvantaged families and households by providing them with life skills, career development, training and opportunities on economic empowerment. The program is an extension of GYI that will be recruiting freshly graduated secondary school students from our project communities and schools on an intensive weekly qualitative skill development programme of experiential learning, career prospect building, life skills schooling, one-on-one-mentoring/coaching, self-development trainings that are academically inclined but incorporates vocational training and apprenticeship. .

Activities & Strategies

  • Training/workshop sessions covering topics on Management skills (time, organisation, multitasking, social networking etc)
  • Computer appreciations & technology (desktop design, social media, basic programming), Life skills & Self-Awareness sessions, Writing & Reading skills development
  • Syndicated vocational skills acquisition (*cost effective livelihood ventures) , Peer-to-Peer training, networking & self-development session , mentorship & coaching program
  • Internship/apprenticeship programme for vocationally inclined participants.

What challenges do you face as an NGO?

Like any organization funding has been a major challenge for us.

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