Inkululeko - With Freedom Comes Hope
Explain your project in details:
Inkululeko provides hands-on tutoring for high-school aged youth in Grahamstown, South Africa -- one of the poorest areas in the Eastern Cape Province of the country. Our mission is to provide youth in an underprivileged area with the skills, support and guidance necessary to apply for, attend and succeed in university; to challenge the bigotry of low expectations for township youth; and to provide sustainable, positive change; student-by-student, generation-by-generation. This is done by identifying and discovering areas for academic improvement amongst learners and structuring a program of success to enable their greatest strengths and maximize future opportunities. Whether the end-goal is university or the workforce, learners are equipped with the skills necessary to engage in a competitive, global workforce. To date, some Inkululeko learners have placed in the top ten of their classes with some even placing very first in their class. The organization is structured to be heavily woven into the local community it serves. Inkululeko works with the Grahamstown community to identify challenges and opportunities in education and works within existing frameworks and systems to address those challenges and capitalize upon those opportunities. Qualified staff with knowledge of the local culture are hired from the township to help lead key Inkululeko initiatives.
Impact of your enterprise on sustainable development
Through intentional and purposeful academic programming, we are providing a foundation for generations of success. According to News 24, the Eastern Cape Province where Inkululeko is located had a pass rate of only 56.8% in 2015 for the matric exams students take at the end of Grade 12. The Eastern Cape not only falls far behind Western Cape, the province with best academic performance, but also the entire nation, which has a pass rate of 70.7%. In the Western Cape, the pass rate in 2015 was 84.7%. The clear disparity in exam success rate is indicative of the socioeconomic inequality that South Africa is confronting. Daily Maverick describes Grahamstown as a town in crisis with some two-thirds of the people are unemployed. The racial tension is obvious as The Guardian narrates that most white people still live in pleasant houses with large gardens, and most black people in the huge neighboring township with few streetlights and little in the way of running water. Its absurd wealth inequalities are embodied by the distance of a few streets between the professors dining in fancy restaurants and the desperately poor sex workers servicing truck drivers for a few coins. Through our programming, we are providing Grahamstown with a model for sustainable education through a conscious application of academic pedagogy aimed at unlocking, enhancing and unleashing the intellectual and personal prowess of our learners.
Sustainability and future plans
We realize that education is not merely limited to the theoretical understanding of mathematics and language arts. Practical application is becoming more and more crucial as experience by potential employers is becoming a requirement for some entry-level positions. We are pleased, with the support of the John Ben Snow Memorial Trust (JBSMT), to have begun phase one of our social enterprise project, filling an existing void in the community, engaging our learners in building a small business and creating a way for the unit to make money to sustain the non-profit organization. We have conceptualized every part of this social enterprise around both generating a profit in the future as well as Inkululeko learner engagement. Conversations held in the classroom included the general amount of expendable income that exists in the community, what people in the township community spend expendable income on currently and what theyd potentially spend it on if we were to offer a new product/service, and what we have to offer that we can sell for a profit. Through this process, learners are challenged to think both in a short-term and long-term mode of thinking to identify a local market and plan for future sustainability.
Your profile as an entrepreneur
Jason Torreano, Executive Director, is a social entrepreneur, grant writer and fundraiser. Originally from Lockport, New York (outside of Buffalo), Jason received an undergraduate degree in journalism and worked in TV newsrooms across the country as an anchor and reporter before pursuing a career in the non-profit sector. Jason spent several years in Grahamstown, South Africa volunteering at a school for street children. In 2011, he went on to found Inkululeko, an organization that serves motivated South African township youth with finishing high school and moving onto university. In his role at Inkululeko, he developed mutually beneficial collaborations with entities around the world and created a fee-for-service model with U.S. institutions to assist with sustainability. He has worked in a number of development roles at several NGOs in upstate NY. He's secured foundation grants, organized fundraising initiatives and enjoys connecting potential donors to the mission and vision of an organization. Jason holds a BS from SUNY Brockport and an MA focused on Non-Profit Management and International Development from SUNY Empire State College. He is a huge fan of social entrepreneurship, passionate people, his dog Adelaide (named after a small South African town in the Eastern Cape Province) and running long distances, slowly.