High School Screening Hosts Olivia Wilde and Raises $2,400

Posted on November 13, 2012, by Lizzie Presser, Half the Sky Movement

Last Thursday, two eleventh grade girls from Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in Manhattan held a screening of Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. Not only did they bring on Olivia Wilde to speak about how artists can channel their talent into activism, but they also raised $2,430 for a lower school in Uganda.

“We wanted Olivia Wilde to come because high schoolers really know who she is,” said Lizzy Hibbard, a co-coordinator of the screening. After Lizzy and Carmel Bendit-Shtull saw Olivia Wilde present on her role in the Half the Sky Movement documentary in September, they approached her to ask if she would come speak at their school. Olivia agreed on the spot, and the screening drew more than 200 art students.  

Carmel (left) and Lizzy (right) introduce Half the Sky: Turning Oppression into Opportunity for Women Worldwide. 


Standing at the front of the auditorium next to Lizzy and Carmel, Olivia –– who herself has co-founded Haiti’s first free secondary school –– addressed the art students after they watched two segments from the film. “Become activists in your own right. Volunteer. If you can, travel,” she told them. “We are all artists. Let’s use our storytelling powers to help out these organizations. And, think big.

Lizzy and Carmel are certainly thinking big. As co-presidents of the Girls Learn International chapter at their high school, the girls have a fundraising goal of $10,000 for the St. Rido Junior School in Uganda. Girls Learn International pairs each of its 90+ school chapters in the U.S. with a different school in the developing world, and Lizzy and Carmel are in constant communication with teachers and students from the St. Rido Junior School. After Olivia’s question and answer session, the girls showed a short video clip about the school in Uganda and urged all the audience members to donate on their way out.

Lizzy and Carmel moderate as Olivia Wilde takes questions from the audience. 


By showing the Half the Sky Movement documentary, the girls sought to draw the attention of their peers to international education issues. “When we watched the movie, it just summarized our cause,” said Lizzy. “It focuses on girls’ need of education, and that’s what GLI is all about,” added Carmel. “And the optimism instead of just the pessimism.”

The girls were thrilled with the outcome. In one night alone, they raised a quarter of their annual fundraising goal. “And, I think they really liked the film,” Lizzy said of their audience. “I heard someone outside saying they wish they had more money to donate. That was really the effect we were going for.” Carmel added, “And a few people asked, ‘How do I join GLI? How do I get involved?’” With more peers helping out, the girls are better positioned to reach and surpass their goals.

The girls have spent the last few weeks tacking up posters, handing out fliers, making morning announcements and going table to table at lunch to promote the event. Now, it’s time to plot how they’ll raise the next $2,400.


To support the St. Rido Junior School in Uganda, donate here.