South African Education Project
Cape Town, South Africa
The South African Education Project (SAEP) envisions a South Africa where every child has the education and inspiration to achieve great things. It's an image that breathes hope into Cape Town's townships, remnants of apartheid that harbor poverty, rampant unemployment, and social issues fueled by an afflicted education system. SAEP helps children and youth overcome the odds created by deep inequality by providing academic enrichment, mentorship and psychosocial support to students of all ages.
The organization started with one American environmental lawyer, who traveled to the newly democratic South Africa to teach conservation workshops to township high schoolers. He found the students hungry for knowledge. They wanted to know about poetry. They asked for help with their math classes. Soon SAEP evolved, and the informal meetings held in the founder's living room became an award-winning nonprofit. SAEP works in under-resourced communities in many ways. It mentors neighborhood crèches (preschools) to give children a crucial foundation; tutors promising high school students; provides life skills, social work and career counseling; runs extracurricular arts and environment programs in culture-starved secondary schools; empowers a group of graduates with intensive studies to apply and prepare for college; supports university students to earn their diploma; and conducts research to further the education conversation countrywide.
I spent four months in SAEP's fundraising and communications office, working with a two-person team to strengthen the organization's message through stories and successful funding requests. During that time, SAEP director Jane Keen's nomination essay landed her on the finalist list for the prestigious Shoprite Checkers Woman of the Year award. I produced web content and an annual report, and also rebranded the organization's mission, vision and values statements for a shift in communications strategy.
Photo: Jenny Mulder
“Melissa was a huge asset to SAEP. She brought great skill and experience as a writer, editor and photographer. She also brought a curious spirit, an open heart, and a desire to learn and connect with people. Her input outlived her time with us—she helped strengthen SAEP’s communication of its work and impact in a lasting way.”
—Katie Huston, Development Manager