Awards: What awards or honors has your solution received, if any?
The Ubuntu Youth Project has received recognition in the Oklahoma State University Alumni Association “State Magazine” and the OSU College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources publication “The Cowboy Journal.” Alyssa Peterson, the Ubuntu Youth Project founder, has presented a TEDx Talk on international development and received recognition in “The Daily Oklahoman” for her work with the Ubuntu Youth Project.
Tell us about your partnerships
The Ubuntu Youth Project partners with organization in both United States and South Africa. In the United States, Ubuntu Youth works hand-in-hand with Pros for Africa, an organization dedicated to connecting professionals in their field to those in developing African countries who could benefit from their expertise.
Ubuntu Youth has forged multiple partnerships with Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma. We are ongoing partners with the Center for Ethnical Leadership. The Center for Ethical Leadership President’s Leadership Class has hosted a school supply drive and a book drive for the Ubuntu Youth Center. Additionally, Ubuntu Youth summer interns from Oklahoma State have received college credit for their experience with Ubuntu Youth. Furthermore, In July 2014, Ubuntu Youth hosted a study abroad group from OSU’s Office of Scholar Development. The group tutored at the Ubuntu Youth Center and had the chance to learn about education, entrepreneurship, and community development in the developing world. Furthermore, the Ubuntu Youth Project has an ongoing partnership with The Mentoring Project in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The Mentoring Project provides on-going mentorship training and materials for Ubuntu Youth. We are excited about an upcoming video exchange between TMP mentees and Ubuntu Youth learners.
In South Africa, Wakaberry Frozen Yoghurt Company serves as the corporate sponsor for the Ubuntu Youth Project, providing legal, consulting, and graphic design advice. Wakaberry sponsors various aspects of the Ubuntu Youth Project operating cost, including company car insurance.
Challenges: What challenges might hinder the success of your project and how do you plan to overcome them?
Reliance on government handouts in rural South Africa is rampant. These handouts often incentivize dropping out of school and unemployment. Additionally, working against a handout culture is challenging when neighboring nonprofits engage in community feedings schemes and free giveaways of clothing, blankets, and more. The hand-to-mouth mentality of poverty leaves little room to think long-term when one’s main goal is to endure the current. We work to alleviate the pressures of poverty to enable people to seize actually opportunities that generate long-term benefits.
Turning around a handout culture is an enormous challenge, but we believe Ubuntu Youth has the opportunity to promote a self-sustaining lifestyle through Ubuntu Youth learner’s participation in entrepreneurial ventures coupled with solid, long-term mentor relationship that begin in secondary school.
Ever-present “red tape” in South Africa is an extreme barrier to success of any grassroots initiative. Navigating tangled municipality government systems to legally establish an Ubuntu Youth Center in a community is a lengthy, complicated, and confusing process. But, because Ubuntu Youth staff has braved the system to establish the first youth center, we now know the process for future centers.
How does your idea help young people create bright futures and improve opportunities for meaningful and long-term careers?
The Ubuntu Youth Project paves the way for youth to be the heroes of their own stories. We understand that long-term, meaningful, and unique investment in each Ubuntu Youth student is the key to ensuring each young person is successful. We understand that student’s aspirations, dreams and goals are as unique and different as the students that possess them; we know taking a one-size-fits-all approach to our work won’t work. We understand not all students will qualify for or want to go to university. We understand not every student will want to start their own business. We understand not every student wants to work for a large corporation. But, we also know that’s okay. At the Ubuntu Youth Project, we supply students with the necessary resources to achieve their desired employment. But, just getting and keeping a job is a small part of our definition of a “bright future.”
We firmly believe in the concept of “ubuntu” for which the organization is named. “Ubuntu” means “I am who I am because of who we all are.” By empowering a group of students in a community, Ubuntu Youth is creating a culture of motivation that doesn’t rely on handouts. This culture will not only affect Ubuntu Youth learners, but their parents, siblings, families, friends, and neighbors.
Intervention Focus: Identify which of the following best explain key parts of your solution
Job Creation, Education - Curricular, Entrepreneurship, Training/Skill Development, Mentorship, Rural Economies.
Does your project utilize any of the innovative design principles below? Select a theme below that most applies to your work. If none of them do, no problem, you can skip this question.
Put Young People in Charge: provide the experiences and skills needed to be resilient, creative, and take action
Is your project targeted at solving any of the following key barriers? Select a theme below that most applies to your work. If none of them do, no problem, you can skip this question.
Lack of youth empowerment