Expanding Lives is a nonprofit that provides education and leadership experiences to young women in West Africa and young people in the United States.

How we do it:

1. Leadership conferences in the US for intelligent, but disadvantaged, young women from Africa.
2. Follow-up with educational and project support in their home countries.
3. Guided opportunities for American students to enhance global and local problem-solving capacities.


Expanding Lives is a 501(c)3 nonprofit, founded in 2007 and based in Chicago, with partner networks extending to Niger and Benin. Founded on the idea that one person can influence positive change in the world, we instill this belief in our young women and we practice it ourselves.

Expanding Lives was founded by Leslie Natzke and a team of dedicated educators. As a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger and public school teacher in the U.S., Leslie saw first hand the transformative potential of education, particularly for young women. Now in its 10th year of operation, Expanding Lives continues to provide girls with the tools they need to become educated leaders in their communities.



In 2019, Becker Group interviewed our founder, Leslie Natzke, and two high school students, Anna Urosev and Irena Petryk. Anna and Irena have been working with Expanding Lives for three years. Listen to the 17-minute recording.