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K-12

Trump is ending Michelle Obama's 'Let Girls Learn' initiative, CNN reports

 (Win McNamee / Getty Images)
(Win McNamee / Getty Images)

CNN is reporting that the Trump administration is planning to end "Let Girls Learn," a signature Michelle Obama program. 

The White House has denied that this is the case.

Obama started the program in 2015 as "a holistic approach to change the perception of the value of girls at the individual, community and institutional levels," according to its website. The intergovernmental initiative engaged partners such as the Peace Corps to help girls across the globe access education, healthcare and other resources.

According to CNN, some aspects of the program will still exist, but not under the auspices and name of Let Girls Learn.

CNN posted an email Peace Corps acting director Sheila Crowley sent to employees. "We will not continue to use the 'Let Girls Learn' brand or maintain a stand-alone program," she wrote. 

The news comes as the Trump administration announces that it will relax Obama's school lunch requirements.

Asked to confirm the fate of Let Girls Learn, Stephanie Grisham, Melania Trump's communications director, said in an email, "The First Lady looks forward to outlining her agenda in the near future." The White House later told CNN that there would be no changes to Let Girls Learn.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), meanwhile, announced plans to introduce the Keeping Girls in School Act to “ensure that the United States remains committed to adolescent girls as a critical demographic in the growth of every nation, with a specific focus on developing nations."

The branding — not just the programming — was key to the program's effectiveness, said Tina Tschen, Michelle Obama's former chief of staff. "With a branded campaign, we were able to elevate all of the programming from various agencies," Tchen said. "You can create a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts by pulling all of those initiatives together and by highlighting them."

The name, she said, enabled the Peace Corps to raise $3 million in funding for Let Girls Learn in a year and a half.

Tschen said that Obama had been paying close attention to issues surrounding the education of girls. But "the big spark that really lit the flame," she said was a visit that Malala Yousafzai made to the White House."

Yousafzai, who has a Pakistani schoolgirl stood up to the Taliban and was shot and seriously injured for doing so, is the youngest person to receive the Nobel prize.

UPDATES

1:40 p.m.: This post was updated to include a statement from the White House.

1:52 p.m.: This post was updated to include Sen. Jeanne Shaheen's reaction.

4:55 p.m.: This post was updated to include the White House's denial of the changes, and with comments from Tina Tschen.

This story was originally published at 11:40 a.m.

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