Sun’s Charles Funds New School in Africa

UNCASVILLE, Conn. (May 1, 2012) — Connecticut Sun center and 2010 WNBA Rookie of the Year Tina Charles has partnered with OmniPeace and buildOn to construct a new school in Mali, a land-locked country in Western Africa.

Located in the village of Ganale in the Sikasso Region of Mali, the school is 2,861 square feet with three class rooms that can accommodate up to 150 elementary school children. Charles paid for the entire cost of the school, a total of $32,000. It will also be used in the evenings for adult literacy classes.

“At some point, I always wanted to give back,” said Charles, who became interested in partnering with OmniPeace after reading about it while still a sophomore at UConn. “Once I was financially stable when I got to the pros, I decided I wanted to link up with OmniPeace and Mary Fanaro, who is the founder of OmniPeace. To build a school in Africa cost thirty-two thousand dollars. I have it, and I was able to supply it to the kids in Africa, and just try to do my part to help end poverty and help them have a brighter future.”

It was through OmniPeace – a Los Angeles-based humanitarian fashion brand that seeks to address vital, compassionate needs through the sale of branded consumer products – that Charles made her contribution. Founded by Fanaro in 2007, OmniPeace has donated several hundred thousand dollars to help end violence against African women, and to educate children, and it has fully funded buildOn in its construction of six schools in three African countries, included the new facility in Mali.

"It has been both a pleasure and an honor to work with Tina Charles,” Fanaro said. “Her support has enabled her to become OmniPeace's first Sports Ambassador, and we are excited to be in partnership with her. I am in awe of her basketball talent, and impressed by her kind demeanor and genuine dedication to wanting to make a difference."

Based in Stamford, Connecticut, buildOn has constructed more than 453 schools worldwide, including 256 in Africa and 178 in Mali. All of the schools in Mali, where gender discrimination is a serious issue, have been constructed in villages where buildOn partners have agreed to send equal numbers of girls and boys to be educated.

"We are honored to have Tina as a partner and are very inspired by her generosity and commitment to education," said Jim Ziolkowski, Founder and CEO of buildOn. "Before Tina funded the school in the village of Ganale, students were learning in two temporary mud huts, with very little light and no ventilation. The new school is built to last 100 years which means it will provide education for generations of children, parents and grandparents.”

A WNBA All Star who will be representing her country this summer as a member of the 2012 United States Olympic Women’s Basketball team, Charles looks forward to continuing her relationship with OmniPeace and buildOn.

“It’s kind of overwhelming knowing I was able to make a difference just like that,” Charles said. “I just want to always give back because somebody gave to me when I was younger and that’s just what I am about.”

To learn more about OmniPeace, visit www.omnipeace.com. For more information about buildOn, visit www.buildon.org.