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.
Through her 501(c)(3) foundation, Mary Grace’s mission is to fund secondary education for girls who live in extreme poverty, primarily focusing on sub-Saharan Africa. 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 shoe buttons and a line of customized “school spirit” magnetic buttons to RTC’s product line. 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 World of Children Award, known as the Nobel Prize for Children’s Advocacy. In 2015, she participated as a panelist at Town & Country’s Philanthropy Summit and was named a Global Youth Ambassador for A World At School. 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.