CHICAGO (WLS) -- Former First Lady Michelle Obama announced Thursday the launch of Global Girls Alliance, a new Obama Foundation program to support the education of adolescent girls around the world.
Thursday is International Day of the Girl, a day set aside to recognize girls all over the world.
"When you educate a girl, you educate a family, a community, a country. It makes no sense that the strength of our families, that girls and women are not getting educated, that they're not in school," said Michelle Obama on NBC's Today show Thursday morning.
The Obama Foundation says there are more than 98 million adolescent girls who are not in school. The Global Girls Alliance aims to set up a network for 1,500 grass roots organizations and others that are working all over the world to empower young women though education.
"I'm thrilled to announce the Obama Foundation's launch of the Global Girls Alliance," said Mrs. Obama. "We want to lift up the grassroots leaders in communities all over the world who are clearing away the hurdles that too many girls face. Because the evidence is clear: educating girls isn't just good for the girls, it's good for all of us."
"I'm elated. I'm so hopeful for what this means for girls, especially girls in Chicago and local girls," said Lak'Keisha Gray-Sewell with the Girls Like Me Project.
Gray-Sewell says she's helped mentor 500 mainly African American girls in Chicago through her non-profit Girls Like Me.
"I truly believe that the power to change this world is in a black girl that's in Chicago right now," she said.
Which is why Gray-Sewell says she's looking forward to getting involved with the alliance and is behind its mission.
"To have this for any organization, it is just almost a dream come true. It allows us to do the work, to do it excellently," she said.
The Global Girls Alliance has partnered with GoFundMe for direct donations to programs to help educate young women.
At this point, the Obamas themselves have not pledged a donation, but are working to establish a new space for education non-profits to connect to help girls.
"The sky's the limit for what they can be if they are empowered," said Gray-Sewell.
For more information, visit GlobalGirlsAlliance.org.
Former First Lady Michelle Obama launches Global Girls Alliance to support girls' education