08/28/2011 04:53 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

A Tie-Dye Cupcake Can Change the World

When Lindsay Brown, a junior at the University of Notre Dame, decided to host a bake sale in her dorm last year to fundraise for girls' education at the Kopila Valley Children's School, she had no idea that she was launching a movement. But her success, raising $900 with her soccer teammates to sponsor three girls in Nepal, did just that. Bake sale fundraisers are nothing new, of course... until you throw some food coloring into the mix.

Lindsay's change-the-world cupcakes are tie-dyed, which we found at She's the First makes them utterly irresistible. She's the First is a non-profit that partners with the most underserved but impactful schools in the developing world and empowers American youth to creatively fundraise for girls' sponsorships. We focus on girls because of the 130 million youth who are out of school around the globe, 70 percent of them are girls. The girls we sponsor are typically the first in their families to graduate primary or secondary school.

When Lindsay shared her cupcake story and photos on our blog, other students started asking for the recipe... before long, these cupcakes were popping up everywhere, even in YouTube videos.

She's the First now declares November 1-8, 2011 a Tie-Dye Cupcake Bake-Off, raising a call to action for 200+ high schools and colleges to host their own tie-dye bake sales to sponsor girls' education with us. You can see the bake sale sign-ups start to sprinkle our Google Map at

The story of the first tie-dye cupcake fundraiser for She's the First isn't over yet -- it gets even sweeter. This summer, Lindsay received a grant from Notre Dame to travel to Nepal, to meet the students she had sponsored with cupcakes. She also wanted to create an all-girls soccer team that would be "an extension of the classroom," as she says, and teach them leadership, self-confidence, and assertiveness. I'm so proud of her project, because at She's the First, when we choose sponsorship programs to partner with, we look for those that have extracurricular activities such as sports. The mentorship inherent in athletics or the arts is one of the most effective ways to prevent a girl from falling into the traps of pregnancy or early marriage, which would get in the way of her graduation.

Lindsay documented her trip on Tumblr, and although it's hard to beat her final post -- announcing that the girls won their first soccer game 5-0! -- my favorite post was hands-down about the birthdays of Nisha and Sunju. Little did we know, but Lindsay had packed baking supplies along with her soccer balls, and she taught the Kopila Valley kids how to make the very same tie-dye cupcakes that sponsored their education. For them, it satisfied more than their sweet tooth. She blogged:

our two friends who are pilots for the world food programme are pretty much the only people in surkhet with a working oven so we drove over to their house to bake the cupcakes. it was a really big deal for the girls, they've only been in a car a few times(i even had to show them how to open the door) and when i asked if they had ever used an oven before they said they've only seen one in a movie!

Lindsay Brown, the Kopila Valley children and the 24-year-old founder of their home and school, Maggie Doyne, have the kind of intertwined story that I feel like I would see in a movie, too. But these real-life stories are actually all around us -- and She's the First pulls them together in one place. You can become the next chapter.

I encourage you to watch Lindsay tell her own story in one minute here on YouTube:

"Like" her video to help her earn a spot at the Google Zeitgeist Americas 2011, where she'll take a series of master classes and meet some of the world's most powerful players and greatest minds. Because when a girl starts changing the world with cupcakes when she's 20, you have no idea what's next.

Encourage the young women in your life to sign up to host a tie-dye cupcake bake sale at their school, too: I know there are many more Lindsay Brown's out there, and each one of them also has a girl -- or three! -- on the other side of the world whom she can impact.

Let's show the world what a cupcake is really made of.