In an effort to help eliminate economic inequality through improved education, The Kresge Foundation has awarded a grant of US$857 734 (about R11,1 million) to Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, for the Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative (KIAI).
The Kresge Foundation is a US philanthropic private foundation that has funded Inyathelo to build South African advancement capacity since 2005.
Jessica Rees-Jones, Executive Director of Inyathelo, says, “We’re thrilled to accept this grant as it could not come at a more appropriate time, with unprecedented pressures on education. We cherish our long and meaningful history with the Kresge Foundation and this grant reaffirms their confidence in us.
“Smart collaborations have always been our approach and will continue to be the bedrock of success as we take bold steps into the future.”
The grant comes from Kresge’s Education Program, which aims to help increase US and South African post-secondary education attainment to advance social mobility, address economic inequality and strengthen urban communities.
Ms Rees-Jones explains that the grant aims to achieve this by strengthening the private giving and fundraising capacity of South African universities so that they can better serve the country and their students. To this end, the programme has three key goals:
• To develop and expand the pool of institutional advancement professionals in South Africa;
• To strengthen and support efforts to increase the fundraising capacity of selected institutions and to develop local institutional advancement models for others to emulate; and
• To build philanthropy, and particularly individual giving, in South Africa.
Advancement, a system which Inyathelo developed, is the integration, within an organisation or institution, of ten elements to drive strategic thinking and ensure long-term sustainability. These elements include communication, marketing, public liaison, external relations, fundraising and more.
The grant supports the continuation of the KIAI for the next few years. The KIAI provides technical assistance, workshops, training, international exchanges and coaching to four universities (the University of the Free State, Tshwane University of Technology, University of Johannesburg and Durban University of Technology) to improve their advancement capacity, plus an annual advancement conference open to the entire higher education sector.
The grant also funds a retrospective evaluation of Inyathelo’s university advancement work since 2006, and complements other Inyathelo sector-wide advancement efforts, including the Annual Survey of Philanthropy in Higher Education (ASPIHE), and the development of a postgraduate advancement diploma in partnership with Rhodes University.
The Kresge Foundation invests in South African universities because of their profound importance to South Africa’s economy and their nation-building role in a fragile young democracy struggling to overcome the legacy of apartheid.
Educational institutions are critical players in the country’s most pressing issues: inequality, employment and education. Primary, secondary and tertiary education are in deep crisis, and increasingly, universities must make do with shrinking public resources.
“A quality education is the gateway to accessing the essential things of modern life: employment and financial stability, mobility, know-how, bankable skills,” says Ms. Rees-Jones. “In this environment of pressure to perform and deliver in a variety of different arenas, and mounting financial challenges, advancement has become increasingly important to universities’ strategies for sustainability, and will only become more so in the future.”
Inyathelo believes advancement is both a philosophy and a technical process, an art and a science, and its successful application depends on a careful balance of both. Implementing the initiative gave Inyathelo the opportunity to begin to develop both a theory and a practice of advancement.
The grant falls under Kresge’s Education Program’s focus area on institutional capacity building. Kresge works to expand opportunities in America’s cities through grant-making and social investing in the arts, culture, education, environment, health, human services and community development in Detroit, USA. Its Education Program has worked in South Africa for the last decade, which is Kresge’s sole international grantmaking program.
Kresge’s President and CEO Rip Rapson, in a speech at an educational conference in Johannesburg in June, shared that the foundation continues its work in South Africa because of the many parallels between the two countries and the pivotal and inspirational role South Africa plays in advancing democracy.
“Like South Africa, the United States remains committed to overcoming our deepest, most intractable challenges – in democratic governance, in economic fairness, in racial justice,” Rapson said. “We both have a great deal to learn from the other as we recommit to the unending task of building a just and inclusive society.”
In photo are (from left) Caroline Altman Smith (deputy director Kresge Foundation), William Moses (MD Education, Kresge Foundation), Jessica Rees-Jones (Executive Director, Inyathelo), Cynthia Kresge (trustee and great-granddaughter of founder), Nazli Abrahams (Inyathelo Programme Director) and Rip Rapson (President and CEO of Kresge Foundation).