Cari Minogue (BA’07, MBA’16): Enabling education
By Mark Campbell
Back to school is an exciting time for Dalhousie University alumna Cari Minogue (BA’07, MBA’16). It means another year of letters and Skype calls from students in Arusha, Tanzania, who are pursuing their academic and career dreams with her help.
“I’ve always been afforded the opportunity to receive an education,” Minogue says. “Why not provide that same opportunity to others who otherwise would not have the chance to go to primary or secondary school?”
Minogue is co-founder and executive director of Dreaming For Kids, a non-profit organization that provides kids in East Africa with access to quality secondary education. Launched in 2013, it has enabled more than 100 students to graduate from the Good Hope primary school and sponsored seven youth from Good Hope Orphanage who have gone on to continue their learning at secondary school.
“Education is about finding a true sense of self,” Minogue says. “It’s about finding a passion you want to explore and leveraging it to succeed in life. Our hope is that Dreaming For Kids will help kids access education, discover their passion and shape a new generation of community leaders with a desire to give back.”
A dream is born
Giving back has always been second nature to Minogue. While studying sociology and international law at Dalhousie, she was inspired by a community volunteer requirement in one of her courses to launch a food bank donation program at a Halifax greengrocer that continues today. She subsequently worked with the Nova Scotia Department of Community Services, serving as a case manager for the Salvation Army’s Centre for Hope in Halifax. But it was a series of teaching assignments at two South Korean private schools that indirectly provided Minogue with the impetus to develop Dreaming For Kids.
“I took the opportunity to travel throughout Southeast Asia between teaching assignments,” Minogue says. “The poverty I encountered along the way made me think about how I could make a difference—not in a ‘voluntouring’ way, but by truly immersing myself in a community and working with it to bring about change.”
Recalling that a friend, Talia Mohns (who eventually became the co-founder for Dreaming For Kids), had worked at the Good Hope Orphanage, Minogue reached out to talk about that experience and soon found herself in Arusha, Tanzania.
“I went from a school with ample technology to a school where computer studies consisted of drawing a keyboard on a piece of paper,” Minogue recalls. “But all the kids had the same aspirations that you’d find anywhere. The difference was they didn’t have an outlet to make those dreams come true.
“When I got back to Canada, I researched what it would take to provide for those needs,” Minogue continues. “I approached Talia and said, ‘This is going to be a 20-year project that will need about $100,000 in financing. Do you want to go on this journey with me?’ That’s how Dreaming For Kids was born.”
Assisted by board members Eric Dunn, the director of communications, and Tarek Kassem, the chief financial officer, Dreaming For Kids has provided funding to support the completion of the primary school at Good Hope Orphanage. But its main focus is to send graduates from the orphanage to Edmund Rice Sinon Secondary School, and that goal motivated Minogue to return to Dalhousie to earn her MBA.
“I started this organization without any business background, so it became critical for me to learn the necessary skills to get it up and running,” Minogue says. “I tailored all my courses in the second year to focus on the charitable sector to ensure everything we do at Dreaming For Kids has a positive outcome and that I am able to communicate the value of our work to our community.”
Most of the funds for Dreaming For Kids are raised through charitable events, such as a scavenger hunt in Kensington Market and past MBA karaoke events. But Minogue notes that Dalhousie alumni have also stepped up to strengthen the program.
“My MBA classmates provided tuition for one child to go on to secondary school,” Minogue says. “If it wasn’t for their generosity, we would have one less student continuing their studies, so I am grateful to the Dalhousie community for supporting us and our students every step of the way.”
Looking to the future
The goal now, according to Minogue, is to attain charitable status for Dreaming For Kids, which will be vital for its growth and success. Once accomplished, she might turn her attention to expanding the program to other communities and countries. Whatever may come, Minogue is happy to be part of an initiative that is helping to change lives and build stronger communities.
“I feel very fortunate to be able to continue learning from these kids who have taught me so much,” Minogue says. “I’m also grateful to family, friends and the supporters I’ve met through Dreaming For Kids. It’s been an incredible experience and I’m excited to see where this journey takes us.”