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U.S.-based Kresge Foundation funds efforts to strengthen South African universities

-- New grants provide 5.5 million rands to 4 universities plus training and other support   

TROY, Michigan, Jan. 16, 2013 /PRNewswire/ -- 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 well-prepared graduates.

The U.S.-based private foundation will provide funding over six years to:

  • Durban University of Technology, Durban
  • Tshwane University of Technology, Pretoria 
  • University of Johannesburg 
  • University of the Free State, Bloemfontein 

Selected through a competitive application process, the grants enable the universities to receive up to $640,000 U.S. dollars, 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 Advancement saw fundraising at participating institutions increase threefold. (Learn about Kresge's 2005-2011 Special Initiative in South Africa.)  

"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, 2005-11 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:

  • University of Pretoria
  • University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg
  • Cape Peninsula University of Technology, Cape Town
  • University of the Western Cape, Cape Town

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 of Inyathelo. "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. Kresge expects to invest at least $15 million in South Africa through 2018.

The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private, national foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations working in its seven program areas: Arts and Culture, Community Development, Detroit, Education, the Environment, Health, and Human Services. In 2011, the Board of Trustees approved 356 awards totaling $170 million; $140 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year.

Mark Whitney

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