Girl Up, the United Nations Foundation's adolescent girl empowerment campaign, this week announced that it will be expanding its successful SchoolCycle initiative to Guatemala.

This announcement kicks off the holiday giving campaign that aims to provide bicycles to adolescent girls in Guatemala through United Nations programs, where six out of 10 indigenous girls drop out of school by age 15.

“I’ve always been a huge proponent for education,” said actress and SchoolCycle celebrity spokesperson Katherine McNamara. “However, so many girls around the world don’t have that opportunity to pursue an education. For them, a bike is a symbol of freedom and the tool that can transform their future.”

Adolescent girls in Guatemala face unique challenges that prevent them from reaching their full potential. By age 18, almost 40 percent of indigenous girls are married; 70 percent of adolescent girls who become mothers live in poverty, while 80 percent leave school. Girls often drop out of school due to long commutes through dangerous areas to get to the closest secondary school. Girls frequently travel in groups for fear of harassment or even violent attacks along their route. A solution to this can be as simple as providing a girl with a bike so she can travel to and from school quickly and safely.

“SchoolCycle is such a simple and special opportunity to change a girl’s life in Guatemala,” said Melissa Hillebrenner, Director of Girl Up. “With a bike, a girl is empowered to complete her education and break the cycle of poverty for her whole community.”

A gift of $125 will provide an adolescent girl in Guatemala with a bike, spare parts, and maintenance training through UN programming. This year’s campaign will build on the success of the initiative’s 2014 launch in Malawi, where more than 500 girls received bikes. For more information, or to donate to SchoolCycle visit GirlUp.org/SchoolCycle.

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