The following was written by Angelique Saavedra of the Global Exchange Fair Trade Store in Berkeley.

Whether you’re celebrating your own commencement or a recent graduate’s accomplishment, the Global Exchange Fair Trade stores are making your Fair Trade gift double its impact. In honor of recent graduates and their proud families, we are kicking things off with The Leakey Collection’s Beads for Learning.

Beads for Learning bracelets come in a variety of bright colors.

With the purchase of $20 or more on our diverse selection of beautiful jewelry during Saturday June 2nd or Sunday June 3rd, you’ll receive a FREE Beads for Learning bracelet from The Leakey Collection. Simply mention this blog post and choose from a selection of our Beads for Learning bracelets.

These uniquely crafted, 26 inch bracelets can serve as a reward for your hard work (as either a graduate or a family member), plus the proceeds help fund rural Kenyan teachers’ salaries. Five strands of one Beads for Learning bracelet is worth the equivalent of a rural Kenyan teacher’s full-day salary, and being able to employ hard working teachers means that there are more opportunities for Kenyan children to be educated.

As we celebrate educational accomplishments in our respective communities, let’s not forget that according to UNICEF estimates, nearly half of the world’s children do not have access to basic education. Access to education allows for the development of important knowledge, values, and critical thinking skills.

Massai woman with Zulu grass beads. Photo courtesy of the Leakey Collection.

The Beads for Learning Bracelets are handmade of 100% environmentally sustainable materials. The Maasai women of rural Kenya create each vibrantly colored bracelet using remaining fragments of Zulu grass. These locally-sourced, stunning grass beads signify the hopeful future of their educated children. Women are able to make the beads under acacia trees in the Rift Valley, which allows for accessible work sites and ideal working conditions.

The Zulu grass beads from The Leakey Collection were created after a devastating 2001 drought in Kenya, when co-founder Philip Leakey spearheaded the idea of making jewelry from grass. The grass is strong, durable and naturally grows with a hollow stem, making it easy to turn into beads. The grass is harvested by hand, strand by strand. Afterwards, the grass beads are dyed with textile dyes, combined with both Czech and Japanese glass beads and then strung together to make an extraordinary product.

Oh the places you'll go!

Zulu grass is waterproof, the dye is colorfast and the elastic strand is very resilient (it can last up to 6 years—after all, it is the same elastic that was created for the Spider-man movie). Moreover, the harvest of grass is environmentally sustainable because the communities no longer have to burn the grass that their cattle do not eat.

Pick up your FREE Beads for Learning bracelet June 2nd or 3rd!

We hope to see you on June 2nd or June 3rd to congratulate you and your family members on your achievements. Don’t forget to come by any of our stores–in San Francisco, Berkeley, Washington, D.C. and Arlington, VA–to get a FREE Beads For Learning bracelet with your purchase of $20 or more on our jewelry. Congrats!