I can see now that the school is the children’s home. In my mind, Vusumzi is like a dream. When I look at the way that school was before, it was hostile. We thank God who brought you to Nomathamsanqa, Addo.
— A Nomathamsanqa Parent

UP efforts in South Africa began as a response to decrepit classroom conditions, and our infrastructure projects since our 2011 founding have surpassed residents’ wildest dreams. The Vusumzi Primary School Academic Centre, the renovation of 20+ classrooms in two schools, the provision of unfettered access to clean water, and the construction of a 31-station computer laboratory are evidence of that. Our efforts, though, have expanded well beyond building projects to include more sustainable activities, such as teacher-training, student leadership workshops, healthcare education, and social enterprise.

As such, we provide students of all ages with opportunities to think, challenge themselves, connect with the world around them, and ensure their equal access to high-quality education: the single greatest means to empowerment.

And how do we accomplish that? We have a straightforward, three-step approach.

First, we rely on local input. This foundational philosophy allows us to build and sustain trust. Stakeholders in South Africa set the agenda, because they know best. We examine their priorities in order and fund them in order. Residents know we are in it for the long haul - until their independence is unequivocal and sustainable. Stripped opportunities take time to restore, and the apartheid shadow gives the Xhosa of Nomathamsanqa good reason to doubt; but they now fully appreciate that “promise” is part of our name in word and in deed.

Second, we do our research. We consider other nonprofits’ successes and struggles, and we examine reports, documentaries, and statistics to guide our actions. We support the education of all to promote freedom rather than perpetual hand-outs to the masses to ensure paralysis. We support school-based programs to serve thousands rather than ill-fated structures (such as orphanages for children who actually have guardians) to serve few. We embrace a steadfast mission with a broad impact rather than an ever-changing mission with an unclear destination. We respect the local articulation of needs rather than the foreign imposition of will.

Third, we pride ourselves on transparency and help donors trace where their money goes. Contributors know that this donation paid for the purification elements of our clean water system and that donation purchased Simthandile his first new pair of school shoes. We are vigilant about protecting donor generosity, so we research diligently to find the best prices, ask for discounts on purchases, and incur next to nothing in overhead costs. We engage locals whose skills are of the highest quality and ask them to welcome others who would benefit from the training.

It works.

We hope you will explore our site and then get involved, so we may all carry on our sustainable and transformative efforts.