She’s the First, an NYC-based nonprofit, is empowering thousands of women worldwide

If you question whether one person can really change the world, you haven't met Tammy Tibbetts or Christen Brandt.

For the past 10 years the pair has been quietly building a revolution out of their tiny midtown Manhattan office, running their nonprofit called She's the First.

"We really do believe that just one person — just two people — can spark something," Tibbetts said.

"To date, we have about 1,300 girls who have graduated from high school who otherwise wouldn't have," Brandt said. She's the First has helped more than 7,000 girls worldwide through education and empowerment work.

"We support girls around the world who will be the first in their families to graduate from high school and, along the way, we train students to be leaders," Tibbetts said.

She's the First works in 11 countries with partner organizations, educating and empowering young women in developing countries who otherwise may not graduate from high school, choose their careers or start families on their own time.

"When a girl is educated, she is in a position to break the cycle of poverty in her family and her community," Tibbetts said.

She's the First has been recognized and supported by the United Nations, Diane von Furstenberg and Michelle Obama. But perhaps their most meaningful endorsements come from the girls themselves.

"One of the examples we're most proud of is Maheswari [Raja]," Tibbetts said. "She went on to get a masters degree in biotechnology, and is now a neurotechnician."

"To me, being the first in my family to be educated allows me to help my family," said Raja, who lives in southern India.

She's the First sponsored the 24-year-old through high school, helping to put her future in her own hands.

"I am able to stand up to my family and tell them that this is what I want to do, and my family was able to support me," Raja said.

Raja could have easily become part of a staggering statistic: 98 million adolescent girls around the world are out of school today. But She's the First is proof that if you want to start change, start by putting more girls in classrooms.

"Educating a young woman is the ultimate ripple effect," Tibbetts said. "Talent is universal, but opportunity is not."

"Whether you're a girl in New York, in Nairobi or in Bangalore, they should have the opportunity to decide what their futures hold," said Brandt.

She's the First also has more than 200 college and high-school chapters in the United States to educate and empower young women closer to home.

Learn more about She's the First at shesthefirst.org.

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