At just 12-years-old, Mary Grace Henry became determined to make a lasting impact in the life of an underprivileged girl. Starting out with a sewing machine and the drive to teach herself how to sow, Henry began sowing reversible headbands that she sold at her school’s bookstore with 100 percent of the proceeds going towards her goal of providing an education to girls in extreme poverty.
Today, at just 17-years-old, this Harrison, New York native is the founder of her hair accessory charity business, Reverse the Course, which has sent a total of 45 girls to school in Kenya, Uganda, Paraguay and Haiti.
“Educating a girl can change the course of her life, change the course of a community…and a country,” the teen entrepreneur says on her company’s website.
Being recognized with the “Youth Award” at this year’s World of Children Award event and by the Queen Latifah show for her work, Henry continues to prove that she has no plans of slowing down on her philanthropic efforts.
“The greatest obstacle to education faced by both girls and boys is poverty,” Henry tells the awards organization. “Girls, though, face a second hurdle that is far more difficult to address: their culture. In many countries throughout the world, girls are viewed as having not just lesser value than boys, but often devastatingly little or no value.”
Currently, Henry has sold more than 11,000 RTC hair accessories and has helped provide shoes, uniforms, textbooks, school supplies and coverage for national testing fees that benefit school girls in Africa. Additionally, RTC has shipped over 250 pounds of sewing supplies to Uganda to encourage young girls to fulfill their own entrepreneurial endeavors, while also providing workshops in Kenya that teach the importance of sanitation and health practices.
So far, the teen entrepreneur and philanthropist has received lots of support for her business, including a $4,000 donation from Queen Latifah and a two-year $35,000 grant from World of Children.
To learn more about the impact of Henry’s organization on underprivileged girls and what you can do to help, visit ReversetheCourse.org.