African Children's Educational TrustWhen it comes to a small charity making a big impact, it rarely gets bigger than the 1,000-plus children now being taught in two schools opened by the African Children's Educational Trust in the Ethiopian region of Tigray.
The charity, also known as A-CET, spent about £160,000 building two elementary schools in the villages of Gumselasa and Hagere Selam. For local children, this means that they no longer have to walk for more than an hour to go to school, running the risk of being attacked by foxes or hyenas along the way.
The safer journey has made the parents in the villages more willing to send their children to school, boosting attendance significantly. The buildings are also brighter, cooler and cleaner than the schools they used to go to.
The funding for the project came from several sources, including the American School of Doha in Qatar, the Band Aid Trust and private donors from across the world.
A-CET, which works exclusively on education projects in Ethiopia, also took steps to ensure local people were involved in the initiative.
Ethiopian Youth Educational Support, a charity run by former A-CET students that is based in Mekelle, the capital of Tigray, identified the two villages where the schools were to be built. The work was carried out by local contractors, which employed local people. Materials were bought locally.
The opening of the schools gained national media coverage in Ethiopia. Sir Bob Geldof, who opened the Hagere Selam school, called it the best project he had seen. The region's education bureau has asked all non-governmental organisations in the area to use the project as a model.
"It's an inspired project that, through its work with local people, will have an impact for years to come," said Tristan Donovan, deputy editor of Third Sector and one of the category judges.
Awarded to a small charity that has made a big impact with an innovative
project or projects. Only charities with annual incomes of up to £1m are eligible for this award
David Ainsworth, reporter, Third Sector
Stephen Cook, editor, Third Sector
Tristan Donovan, deputy editor, Third Sector
John Plummer, reporter, Third Sector
Andy Ricketts, news editor, Third Sector
Kaye Wiggins, reporter, Third Sector