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SOE alum helps equip, empower and educate students abroad

Students in the Royal Kids School in their classroom in Kenya.

On a mission trip to Kenya years ago, VCU School of Education alumnus Robert Turner and his wife, Carol, met the couple who founded the Royal Kids School, an organization dedicated to providing a stable educational environment for children, regardless of their ability to pay. After hearing about the school’s mission and its impact on the community, the Turners felt a calling to help.

“While visiting the Royal Kids School, my wife called me, overwhelmed with the need there, and asked that we donate money for a well,” Turner said. “I responded that we can do even more. That’s how the nonprofit E3 Kids was founded.”

E3 Kids International set about achieving its mission: “Equip, Empower and Educate.” To make education more accessible, the organization helps raise funds for clean water, building projects, food, chemistry lab, textbooks, library books, student sponsorships and more.

“Education is very important in my family — I was very fortunate to get the education I did at VCU,” said Turner, who received his master’s in counselor education from the School of Education. “VCU is where I fell in love with counseling, helping others and became interested in giving back to the community.”

Likewise, Carol Turner also believes in the power of learning. Ms. Turner, a graduate of the VCU School of Business, believes education is the way to break the cycle of poverty.

“My heart and passion, when I began working in Kenya, was to educate impoverished children who otherwise would not have the opportunity to go to school,” she said. “I also wanted to get kids in the US to learn and understand the struggles kids their age have worldwide.”

The Turners’ message is clearly trickling down to the students they support through E3 Kids as well: 11 of those they have sponsored went on to college or have come back to the school to teach after graduation.

The E3 Kids project has also influenced others to give. Recently, a high school senior used her birthday as an incentive to raise more than $18,000, money E3 Kids used to finish a dorm for 40 boys and girls who had previously slept in their classroom at night. The funds also helped provide a steady income for teachers and food for 350 students for a year.

Thanks in part to such successful fundraisers, E3 Kids has been able to raise more than $500,000 for the Royal Kids School. As a result, the school has been able to expand to cover both upper-level and lower-level students, serving more than 700 in total.

The Turners plan to continue searching for ways to empower and educate children in other countries, such as their recent efforts to expand E3 Kids to Guatemala. More information about E3 Kids project and how to get involved can be found at www.e3kids.com.