Sub-Saharan Africa

Expanded Opportunities for All Youth in Africa

We collaborate with partners in Kenya, South Africa and across Sub-Saharan Africa to expand diverse pathways to learning. Working inside and outside the formal education system, we focus on the whole learner and their connection to their communities so that young people have the skills, opportunities and support they need to thrive. Given the inequitable outcomes for young girls and women, we also seek to improve access to child care, a primary barrier to learning.

The Challenge

Too many learners are being left behind across much of Sub-Saharan Africa due to outdated education systems that were designed to perpetuate inequities and leave many young people not prepared to reach their full potential. The COVID-19 pandemic has made things worse. Extended closures kept 40% of all school-age children across Eastern and Southern Africa out of school, leading to significant learning loss. Now, as schools reopen, millions won’t return. Many are girls.

Every year an average of twenty million young people in Sub-Saharan Africa join the working-age population. Yet despite schooling, many struggle to secure dignified work, and unemployment and underemployment continue to climb. By 2035 Africa will send more people to the workforce annually than the rest of the world combined. Helping African youth thrive and find opportunities for success is a global imperative.

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What If

Imagine a world where communities come together with learners and their families to co-create holistic learning solutions that allow them to thrive. A world where learners have expanded resources and the agency and skills they need to succeed. Imagine learners feeling supported by their communities—communities that help them foster a sense of self-worth and belonging. Where girls and young women are able to pursue education and employment opportunities, and mothers have access to quality, affordable child care options. This is the future that we imagine and are co-creating with our partners.

Our Approach

We know that challenges in education systems are highly complex and often based on deep explicit and implicit patterns. That’s why we take a systems approach to begin to see and understand these patterns. We engage with stakeholders and partners across multiple backgrounds to gather rich data, insights and perspectives. Together, we constantly adapt our work so that we are investing in people and ideas at the crossroads of needs and momentum. Watch our video to see how stories connect to underlying systems of inequity.

Explore Our System Map

Our practice involves detailed mapping of the key components of a given system as a way to identify leverage points, which have the potential to yield positive impact.

What We Focus On

Support Flexible Pathways for the Whole Learner

For all young people to thrive, they need multiple and diverse opportunities to learn and grow within both formal and informal learning systems. We support innovative programs and infrastructure that help students develop holistic skills and mindsets, including initiatives that can scale under education reform toward a competency-based curriculum and initiatives that target youth learning and working in the informal sector.

Nurture Community for Youth Development

Families and communities play a big role in a young person’s development. Being rooted in a community positively develops a youth’s sense of identity and purpose, strengthening not only their connection to the community but also their agency, sense of belonging and resilience. We support initiatives that link and develop young people to their communities through resources, child care, parenting support and connections to positive role models and mentors.

Expand Democratized Access to Networks That Matter

Networks, both in-person and digital, allow young people to connect with each other, share and receive information, and access opportunities and resources that are fundamental in building youth agency and social capital. The reality is that where you grow up, where you go to school, and where you work can give you up to a twelve-times advantage in gaining access to opportunity. We support initiatives that contribute to improving access to inclusive networks that inform and connect youth.

Increase Quality Child Care Opportunities

Access to trusted child care gives young women viable options to continue their education and skill development while growing as parents. We support research and innovations in child care infrastructure, workforce and early childhood education that address barriers of access, affordability and quality.

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