Mary Grace Henry wanted to make a life-changing difference for one girl by helping that girl go to school. She made that decision when she was just 12 and was determined to find a way to pay for it herself. She asked for an early birthday present – a sewing machine – and taught herself how to make reversible headbands. Mary Grace called her business “Reverse The Course,” hoping her reversible headbands would “reverse the course” of one girl’s life. So began Reverse The Course, LLC.
Once Mary Grace's accessories began to sell well, Reverse The Course Foundation, Inc. was started. She also provides primary school support for girls at risk of FGM, early marriage or abuse. 95% of our secondary school students are in boarding schools and funding includes tuition, boarding fees, uniforms and textbooks. Mary Grace commits to support a girl for her entire secondary school education whenever possible -- four years in Kenya and six years in Uganda. Additionally, funds are provided for innovative entrepreneurial programs as well as workshops to address cultural transitions.
Mary Grace’s dream to “reverse the course” of one girl’s life has grown and continues to thrive. She has designed more than 200 hair accessories, and, as an Ambassador for Girl Rising, she created the International Day of the Girl Collection. Recently she has added customized spirit items for schools: bows, pony tail holders, sports bands and ribbon balls. All are in school colors and can incorporate school logos, sports symbols or mascots. She hopes to expand school sales and activate students throughout the country. Reverse The Course has sold over 16,000 products and plans to expand sales across the country next year.
Though Mary Grace’s goal is to change the lives of girls halfway across the world, she, too, has been changed. Her work has broadened her understanding of herself and the world. As a social entrepreneur, she’s grown in her ability to communicate and lead, employ technology and expand her business -- all while continuing to passionately advocate for girls without a voice.
In 2014, Mary Grace received the prestigious The World of Children Award, known as the Nobel Prize for Children’s Advocacy. Mary Grace is often invited to inspire others by speaking about social entrepreneurship and her mission to change girls’ lives through the gift of education. Mary Grace has just completed her sophomore year at the University of Notre Dame.