The Ubuntu Academy in Cape Town opened its doors in March 2013. We motivate and inspire young people to reach their full potential and to make a difference in their own life, and that of others. We recognise and believe in the talent and passion of youth, and therefore use the youth’s passion to boost energy, creativity, empowerment and skills development. Our students come from Blikkiesdorp, Mitchell’s Plain and Mfuleni: relatively isolated communities struggling with unemployment, poverty, violence, crime and gangsterism. These socio-economic conditions directly impact on the youth. For example, they often struggle to access sufficient opportunity, education and guidance. With their whole lives ahead of them, an intervention is needed.
A Positive Approach
At the Ubuntu Academy we like to view challenges as opportunities. We recognise that young people who live in challenging environments are often very talented, independent, and creatively self-sufficient. Young people are naturally creative, inquisitive and energetic. They are already skilled entrepreneurs!
With a positive youth development approach, the Ubuntu Academy recognises the potential of young people. We believe that through entrepreneurship-, leadership- and talent development, together with a lot of love and attention, we can guide youth to a sustainable living. On top of that, our programme encourages students to become social change-makes and role models to the next generation.
The Ubuntu Academy students are skilled singers, dancers and theatre makers. This is what they are passionate about! At the Academy they are trained in these disciplines, but also in design, film, photography, social media, life skills and business skills. We thus combine arts education – that stimulates creativity and inspiration – with leadership and entrepreneurship to promote personal growth and skills development.
We challenge our students by introducing them to other cultures, practices and styles. For example, the students come from different cultural and racial communities and receive the opportunity to work creatively with students they otherwise would have never met. But at the same time we offer a safe environment for them to explore, create and initiate. At the Ubuntu Academy our students feel seen and respected. We help them grow their self-esteem through constructive and positive exercises. This gives our students the power and motivation to proactively create opportunities for themselves and other people.
Our coaches are core to our methodology and programme. The coaches are role models who often come from a similar cultural background and are able to guide the students on a personal and artistic level.
We are a social enterprise that aims to generate income through various business activities to sustain the programme. We started out with subletting the Academy space, but various business ideas are in the pipeline and will be rolled out soon. We want to grow businesses together with our students. Please contact us if you would like to know more about our social enterprise concept.
The Ubuntu Family
Over time the students and team have started to speak about the “Ubuntu Family”. We strive to be close, loving and respectful to each other. Students are encouraged to take ownership of the programme, the Academy, and their own development. When there are problems, we talk about it and find solutions in collaboration.
The Ubuntu Academy reaches beyond its mandate of youth development because we also create opportunities for personal and professional growth for team-members, partners and volunteers. We believe that by bringing together passionate, driven, motivated, loving and caring people from different cultural backgrounds, we can work magic! Do you have the Ubuntu spirit? Then our doors are open for you! Together we create a better future for ourselves, and for others.
The Ubuntu Academy Cape Town is a two-year pilot project. Through monitoring and evaluation research we ensure positive impact, quality and success. The impact assessment is an integral part of our programme and helps us understand the developments of our students and the organisational processes. With this research we aim to improve our practice and programme outcomes. We share the results of our research with our partner organisations, funders, students, the communities, and the general public.
What We Measure
1) Impact on students
2) Ubuntu Academy methodology
3) Organisational performance
How We Measure
Our quantitative and qualitative research targets the team, partner organisations and students. We use surveys, interviews, focus groups, diaries, and other creative tools for reflection and expression. Every half-year we develop a multimedia Impact Report.