About Us

Our Mission

Our mission is to provide high-quality education to those on the margins, so they can

use their voice to create a better future.

By combining technology, community, and award-winning educators, we have created

a unique impact-based program that empowers marginalized youth and migrant workers

and creates a generation of leaders who will ignite sustainable social impact.

Our Values

Empowerment

Our programs empower individuals to lead their communities and households into better futures.

Empathy

We reject stereotypes and adopt a mindset to increase cross-cultural understanding, to deepen relationships with the students, and provide them with a life-long support network.

Community-Based

We believe in the power of community-based learning and our platform encourages inclusion, celebrates differences, and helps students to find their voice. 

Hope

We understand the realities of our students' lives and want to empower them with networks, skills, and experiences so they can envision and inhabit radically better futures.

Love for Learning

Our programs are designed to provide quality, affordable education for all - focusing on building a growth mindset and rekindling a love for lifelong learning.

Engagement

We value the time, resources, and energy our students put into the program, so we strive to ensure that their experiences are exciting, interactive, and joyful. 

Respect

We value the diversity and experience our students bring to the classroom and we create an equitable learning environment - where everyone can learn from one another.

Trust

We create a safe space for students to express their aspirations, share their struggles, and dream big dreams. 

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Our History

EmpowerU was founded in 2018 when a team of University of Hong Kong (HKU) educators and a community of determined domestic workers joined forces with a common goal to provide migrant workers with the tools necessary to take control of their economic future.

 

EmpowerU’s roots lie in our strong belief in community and education as sources of empowerment. We believe quality, affordable education should be available to everyone.

 

The path to today’s EmpowerU began in 2014, when Dr. Mike Manio created the Domestic Workers Empowerment Project (DWEP), as part of a knowledge exchange impact grant at HKU. At its height, DWEP had over 200 domestic workers registered, with 27 HKU students supporting the programming. DWEP evolved into EmpowerU in 2018 when HKU educators Lindsay Ernst and David Bishop joined the project. 

 

EmpowerU was started based on a few simple realizations. Hong Kong had thousands of domestic workers from developing countries, who were deeply committed to education and self-empowerment, but had no access to comprehensive educational programs. Simultaneously, universities and other schools were largely empty on the weekends when most domestic workers had days off. And there was a robust community of people who desired to share their experience and knowledge in an impactful way. 

 

Our comprehensive curriculum incorporates the 5 key areas of economic development that are proven to lift women out of poverty: Health, Education, Economic Empowerment, Personal Safety, and Legal Rights. 

 

EmpowerU’s first cohort in July 2018 had 350 students, and expanded to nearly 1,300 students in 2019. With no full-time staff, in 2019 we delivered 232 lectures from 12 HKU professors and 71 external partners, leading to nearly 950,000 hours of learning! 

In 2020, EmpowerU expanded its proven educational model to serve the needs of Hong Kong’s ethnic minority populations, and we continue to explore further opportunities today. 

Designed around the community

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Impact-Based Learning

Designed by award-winning instructors from The University of Hong Kong, the curriculum nurtures leaders to usher in the next iteration of social impact. Our program not only serves to broaden the horizons of our students, but also empowers students to create brighter futures for themselves and their communities.

Community-Based Learning

We believe in the power of community-based learning.

At EmpowerU, and our platform encourages inclusion, celebrates differences, and helps students to find their voice. We create a safe space for students to express their aspirations, share their struggles, and dream big dreams. 

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Technology-Enabled Learning

At EmpowerU, we want to ensure access to high-quality education. We do this by leveraging technology to provide excellent, on-demand educational content. We also cultivate online communities so that our students can continue to exchange ideas even across distance and time.

Our global student community in action

Our global student community in action

Meet our team

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Lindsay Ernst

Co-Founder and Board Director

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Karen Liu

Board Director

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David Bishop 

Co-Founder and Board Director

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Bradley Aaron 

Program Director

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Sumichhya Gurung

Curriculum Manager

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Our Partners

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Our Stakeholders

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