Girl Up: Fourteen-Year-Old Avery McCall Raises $36,000 for Girls Worldwide

Posted on July 09, 2012, by Lizzie Presser, Half the Sky Movement

Avery McCall had just turned 12 years old when she first read Half the Sky. Her mother encouraged her to put the book down if the issues proved too disturbing. But instead, Half the Sky has moved Avery to take up arms in ways she had never imagined – she joined the UN Foundation's Girl Up campaign and, in the last year alone, raised $36,000 for girls in need of education and healthcare around the world.

“I was appalled by what I was reading,” said Avery in an interview. “I had kind of lived in my own bubble and, coming from where I come from, I felt it was my duty to make a change, even if it was microscopic.”


Avery McCall presents on Girl Up at the UN Social Innovation Summit.


The change Avery has made is anything but microscopic. She researched organizations to work for and chose the UN Foundation's Girl Up campaign because it focuses on connecting young girls in the United States with at-risk girls in developing countries. She has been a Teen Advisor at Girl Up since August 2011, raising awareness about issues facing girls worldwide and funds to help girls in Ethiopia, Liberia, Malawi and Guatemala.

Avery has found a number of ways to get people involved in the movement. She has given multiple presentations on Girl Up’s work at her middle school in Chicago, rallied nearly 90 people to participate in a walkathon, hosted a bake sale that raised $1,600 and sent out enough solicitation letters to raise nearly $20,000. She even spoke at the United Nation’s Social Innovation Summit in May 2012.

But as a girl looking to make big changes, it isn’t always as easy as she hopes. “At first, people underestimate me. They think I’m a little fourteen-year-old who has her little thing she wants to do and she’s going to give up,” she reflected on the obstacles she has faced. “I’ve had to work really hard at asserting myself with people who are older than me or people who think I can’t do it. But I’ve now found the power of my own voice.”

Avery says that while she used to be the shy girl in class, afraid to speak up when called on, she’s now thrilled to speak publicly to throngs of people about what she wants to see change. So why does she do it? “So many girls aren’t given the opportunities that I am. Being able to give them the chance to read a book and learn is something I couldn’t be more happy about.”

Avery McCall introduces herself and talks about her campaign for Girl Up. 


To support Avery and her work at Girl Up, check out her fundraising page!

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