Making the tools of technology accessible to everyone

Powering Potential began in 2006 as Founding Director Janice Lathen’s dream of bringing educational access to remote locations without electricity near the Serengeti in Africa.

Powering Potential Inc. (PPI) began in 2006 as Founding Director Janice Lathen’s dream of bringing educational access to remote locations without electricity near the Serengeti in Africa.

Over the course of 13 years, her vision has grown into an international nonprofit organization providing award-winning solar-powered Raspberry Pi computer labs equipped with offline digital content to rural schools in developing countries.

To date, the organization has installed an impressive 29 solar-powered systems and 203 computers with servers in 29 secondary schools in Tanzania. This has given an astonishing 23,000 students and teachers direct access to educational materials and technology training to uplift their communities for years to come.

a school nestled in hills The Nainokanoka Secondary School in the Ngorongoro District, Tanzania, May 2018. (Photo: Powering Potential)

Powering Potential’s Solar-Powered Access to Raspberry Computing (SPARC) resources include RACHEL from WorldPossible.org, and Kolibri from Learning Equality.

These feature an extensive library of open educational resources, with Wikipedia, Khan Academy videos, UNESCO textbooks, Project Gutenberg literature, health and medical information, and more.

In 2009, PPI became a partner with the Segal Family Foundation (SFF), an organization founded by Barry Segal that now supports well over 200 community-oriented nonprofit initiatives as partners in Africa creating lasting change in their regions.

In 2016, PPI efforts caught notice of The Open Source Initiative (OSI), a global nonprofit raising awareness and implementation of open source software.

solar panel installation The Endallah Secondary School solar panel installation in the Karatu District, Tanzania, January 2019. (Photo: Powering Potential)

Powering Potential became OSI’s First African Affiliate, creating limitless opportunities for prospective further developers among Tanzanian youth adept at coding. PPI was also the 2017 Energy Globe National Award winner for Best Project in Tanzania in our category.

Additional recognition has been given to Powering Potential over the years by the U.S. Embassy in Tanzania, the Tanzanian Ministry of Education, the Tanzanian Mission to the UN, the Tanzanian Rural Energy Agency, the Tanzania Postal Bank, Raspberry Pi Foundation, and administrations under both the former and current presidents of the United Republic of Tanzania, Dr. Jakaya Mrisho Kikwete and Dr. John Joseph Magufuli.

With this foundation of success, PPI will now expand its educational model into Peru.

Our pilot project consists of a computer lab in a public school in a low-income district of Iquitos, located in the Amazon region.

Iquitos is currently the largest city in the world accessible only by river or air. The geographic isolation results in similar educational challenges, such as a lack of electricity, limited resources, and a high turnover rate for teachers.

team meeting of teachers A Project Team Meeting at the San Francisco School in the Belen District of Iquitos, Peru with (l to r) Anita Gil Avila, principal; Cledy Grandez Veintemilla, Director of the Rosa de America private school; V. Ena Haines, PPI Management Team; and Dana Rensi, PPI Regional Director, Latin America, July 2017. (Photo: Powering Potential)

The computer lab will be installed in the San Francisco Rio Itaya School under the leadership of Dana Rensi, recipient of a Fulbright Distinguished Award in Teaching, who is an Educational Media Specialist in Ashland, Oregon.

She spent a year as a Fulbright exchange teacher in Iquitos and has grown her network of educator relationships there for over 10 years. She will spend five weeks this summer on site to establish this first Powering Potential project in Peru as a pilot from which to gain experience to expand to other villages along the Amazon River.

a school in Peru The computer lab will be installed in this San Francisco Rio Itaya School. (Photo: Powering Potential)

Powering Potential will host a spring celebration of our 10-year partnership with the Segal Family Foundation on June 5 from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at 39 West 29th Street in New York City. All donations during the event will go towards a major computer lab upgrade for the 800-student Sazira Secondary School near Lake Victoria in rural Tanzania.

We also seek volunteers and sponsors for the pilot program in Peru, the fundraiser, and our continued efforts in Tanzania to energize a new generation of learners.

- story by Magdelene, PPI volunteer

Powering Potential logo

Our mission is to use technology to enhance education and stimulate imaginations of students in underdeveloped countries while respecting and incorporating values of the local culture — especially cooperation over competition, community over the individual, modesty over pride, and spirituality over materiality.

Learn More

Have you heard what's good?

Subscribe to our newsletter to get the latest in philanthropic stories and news.