Empowers African communities to bring about sustainable development and positive social transformation based on respect for human rights through holistic, participatory and non-formal education, ensuring that every person is able to live a life of dignity. non-formal education.

Since 1991, Tostan–which means “breakthrough” in Wolof, a West African language–has empowered thousands of people in communities throughout Africa to create large-scale positive community change. Tostan’s unique and effective three-year education program is deliberately holistic and participatory.  It uses local languages and builds on positive traditions to develop knowledge and consensus on democracy, human rights and responsibilities, problem solving, and hygiene and health, while equipping participants with concrete skills in literacy, numeracy, and management. This enables all community members, from adolescents and new parents to religious leaders and grandmothers, to engage in respectful dialogue, to set a clear vision for their future, and to collectively work toward that vision. Along the way, they challenge stereotypes and begin changing negative social norms.

Tostan’s program is a platform upon which communities build many successes: they become healthier and more prosperous; they decide to abandon female genital cutting and child marriage; they participate in grassroots democracy; and women emerge as dynamic leaders.

Tostan’s innovative “organized diffusion model” extends these impacts to entire social networks, often reaching 10 people for every one person trained. Most importantly, all of these successes are community-led and community-owned, making Tostan’s program one of the most sustainable in the region. Tostan’s program has been implemented in 10 African countries in 22 African languages.

Contact Information

718 7th Street NW 2nd Floor
Washington, DC 20001
T: (202) 505-3925

Financial Information

Tostan is classified as a 501(c)(3) organization. Click below to view our most recent independent audit and IRS Form 990.

Banner photo: Tostan empowers thousands of women like this one in Senegal. Photo: Jessica Lifland.
Photo: Tostan program participant in The Gambia leads a discussion on the different stages of pregnancy. Photo: Bjorn Westerdal

Donate Now to Tostan


There is no better way to invest in Africa than by empowering women, men, and entire communities to improve their own lives. Our low-overhead, high-impact model brings change for life. Donate now to Tostan and help us bring our work to 3,000 more communities in the next five years!

Volunteer Opportunities

Tostan is a volunteer-driven organization. Volunteers are posted for six months to two years in Tostan's national field offices in Senegal, Mali, Mauritania, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau, or The Gambia and for at least 3 months in Washington, DC.


To donate to this member charity by check, please print our designation form and mail it with your check to

Aid for Africa
P.O. Box 8734
Topeka, KS 66608

Other Ways to Give

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