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Kresge Foundation funds efforts to strengthen South African universities

General Foundation News

New grants to bolster private fundraising and advancement efforts.

The Kresge Foundation has awarded more than $3.8 million to universities in South Africa to bolster their private fundraising and advancement efforts. The aim is to strengthen the universities so that they can better fulfill their critical role of producing graduates well-prepared to contribute to the national economy.

The foundation will provide funding over six years to:

Selected through a competitive application process, the grants enable the universities to receive up to $640,000, roughly 5.5 million rands. Each university will receive initial funding for advancement operations. Kresge will also award annual bonuses as the institutions achieve fundraising benchmarks.

The funding comes through the 2013-17 Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative in South Africa, a partnership announced earlier this year. (See April coverage.)

A previous collaboration between the American philanthropy and the Cape Town-based Inyathelo: South African Institute for Advancementsaw fundraising at participating institutions increase threefold.

“With declining government support, many South African university officials are tapping private financial donations to enhance their institutions’ ability to serve students better,” says Bill Moses, who directs Kresge’s Education Program. “Stronger advancement skills are critical to their success and ultimately to getting more South African students into universities and completing degrees.”

Four universities that received Kresge support in the previous initiative will receive additional funding of $250,000 each over five years to continue building their development efforts and to serve as mentors to the new cohort.

Those universities include:

Kresge’s funding for training, coaching and support over the next six years brings its total commitment to about $7 million.

“Since The Kresge Foundation-Inyathelo partnership was initiated in 2005, we’ve seen most South African universities begin to form advancement operations,” says Shelagh Gastrow, executive director ofInyathelo. “As a South African who believes university-level education is crucial to the health of our economy and civil society, I’m very encouraged.”

Kresge has made grants in South Africa since 1989. Between 2005 and 2011, the foundation invested almost $19 million to support South African higher education, focusing on institutional development and advancement.

In April, the foundation announced a new commitment that builds on its efforts in the United States to improve access to higher education and help students succeed academically.

Kresge has already funded several efforts that support its interest in strengthening pathways to and through universities this year. Among them:

  • A grant to the University of the Free State to expand the South African Survey of Student Engagement.
  • Funding to the University of Pretoria to support a conference next month, which will highlight opportunities to promote access and success at South African universities.

The application process for 2013-17 Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative began in April.

The selected universities operate advancement offices that exhibit strong potential and can be expected to benefit from the training and technical assistance that Inyathelo will provide, says Moses.

“We expect to invest at least $15 million in South Africa through 2018,” Moses says. “We look forward to seeing these universities grow stronger in the same way that the universities of Pretoria, Western Cape, Witwatersrand, and Cape Peninsula University of Technology did, and to seeing these stronger institutions serve students, and South Africa as a whole, much better.”

Promoting access and success at South African universities is Kresge’s only international effort.