Serving South Africa, the Ithemba Foundation
Based in Washington D.C. with philanthropic efforts in South Africa, the Ithemba Foundation exists for the sole purpose to nourish children in body, spirit, and mind. Laurie Scott, age 34 and Executive Director, founded this non-profit in 2002 and, since then, has expanded the agency to include four primary avenues of support: a computer training program, leadership camps, school meals, and karate classes. The Ithemba Foundation has fed more than 400 children and strives to do more through helping donors realize that physically nourishing an impoverished child only addresses one aspect of larger social issues. Laurie is grateful for an all-volunteer Board of Directors and says that without their tireless efforts Ithemba could not have garnered all of its successes to date. For more information on the Ithemba Foundation and how to help shape the lives of thousands of South Africa’s under-served children, read on to learn more in this week’s Non-Profit Spotlight .
Hemingway, South Carolina
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Masters of Urban and Regional Planning
North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University
BS Civil Engineering
US Navy Civil Engineer Corps
About the non-profit
The Ithemba Foundation was chartered in 2002 after several Board Members visited South Africa and personally saw the ravaging effects of Apartheid. The name, Ithemba, was chosen because it means hope in Xhosa and Zulu, which are two of South Africa’s official languages. Thus, the foundation serves to instill Hope by exposing under-privileged youth to empowering programs. The foundation underwrites its mission via resources provided by institutional and private donors.
Our Vision is to play an integral role in producing South Africa’s future Leaders and Professionals by accomplishing the following three objectives via our programs:
- Integration of children from different racial, language and cultural backgrounds.
- Create opportunities for children to build self-worth, leadership, interpersonal and technical skills.
- Develop youth into role models of hope and encouragement for others in their communities.
What are your day-to-day responsibilities?
As the Executive Director and Principal Founder, my day-to-day responsibilities include the following:
- Reviewing grant applications submitted by the foundation’s financial officer and/or director of marketing; and writing applicable executive summaries.
- Strengthening partnerships with donors and supporters of Ithemba, by calling or e-mailing them regarding opportunities to do more to help South African youth.
- Working closely with the South African Embassy to ensure they are aware that our programs are filling a critical void.
Most notable milestones
We have fed more than 400 kids through our feeding scheme program.
Two participants in Ithemba’s Karate Program were selected for South Africa’s National Karate Team and competed at the World Karate Championship in Helsinki, Finland. The two participants, Anele Ntaga, age 16, and Beauton Fountin, age 17, won gold and silver medals respectively.
We have increased the computer IQ of more than 150 students via our Computer Training Program.
We have broke down cultural and racial barriers and empowered more than 200 South African youth via our Bi-annual Leadership Camp.
What’s the niche?
We are an all-volunteer board of compassionate and committed young professionals. None of us get a dime for our efforts, and most of us give both resources and time. Additionally, we focus on raising funds via awareness of youth issues in South Africa. We firmly believe that once people are aware of the uphill battle many youth in South Africa face daily, they will support our vision.
What’s the biggest challenge?
Similar to other non-profits – raising funds is always a challenge. We have two South African board members in South Africa who depend on us to provide the funds to support the empowering programs they are coordinating and facilitating on that side.
What’s in store for the future?
In February 2007, we partnered with the Inimba group to extend its’ School Meals Program to children living in a community profoundly affected by HIV/AIDS.
We are working with the South African Embassy to take a delegation of 15 supporters to South Africa to see first-hand what we saw in 2002 that sparked us to create Ithemba. The trip is scheduled for November 2007.
Our annual fundraising event, “Taste of South Africa” , is scheduled for August 18, 2007. This event is held in conjunction with the South African Embassy in Washington, DC.
Best way to keep a competitive edge
Recognize the strength and weaknesses of your board members and ensure each board member is there for the organization’s vision, not just having a title on their resume.
Guiding principle in life
Begin with the end in mind.
Yardstick of success
How many lives you have touched…in a positive way?
Goal yet to be achieved
Spending 100% of my time working to expand Ithemba’s vision.
Best practical advice
In most cases, it’s better to be happier than right. People focus too much on being right about all things, even at the destructions of others, which generally sacrifice their happiness…if they have a heart.
Supportive words from a family member or friend on your venture
Top many to list…
My mother, Mary Scott, through her commitment to our church and community while raising four children.
My college mentors, Dr. Judy Rashid, Dr. Faranak Miraftab and Mrs. Mary Griffin, through their love for education and service to South Africa and other countries.
My professional mentors, Vice Admiral Michael Loose and Captain Bret Muilenburg, through their commitment to equality and service to our great Nation; my personal friend, South Africa Deputy Chief of Mission to the United States, Mr. Derick Moyo, by helping me gain a comprehensive understanding of global issues and humility
What motivated you to get started?
Going to South Africa and personally seeing the ravaging effects of Apartheid on SA youth.
Like best about what you do?
The opportunity to serve others and do my small part to shape their opinions about American people. Even if they don’t agree with our policies, they understand that the people care about their struggle.
Like least about what you do?
Having to convince funders that they should support us financially. It’s naïve to assume that people will give based on the fact that you can clearly articulate your vision. It’s hard work.
At age 10, what did you want to be when you grew up?
A rapper/break dancer!
What was your first job?
Dishwasher at a local diner in Allentown, PA.
Biggest pastime outside of work
Biking or hiking – I love the outdoors.
Person most interested in meeting?
Barack Obama, he is a visionary when it comes to global humanitarian issues. He’s not perfect, but he’s striving to be like the rest of us.
Theodore Roosevelt is a close second.
Leader in business most interested in meeting?
Bill Gates, to understand his strategy and vision for making Microsoft the brand that it is today.
Three interesting facts about yourself
- I hate reading fiction books.
- I’m a health nut.
- I rarely watch TV or movies.
Three characteristics that describe you
- Outgoing and happy with my place in the world.
- Mostly laid back, but can be intense when it matters most.
- Serious work-a-holic
Three greatest passions
- Anything outdoors.
- Experiencing different cultures.
- Talking about real-world issues in small groups
“7 Habits of Highly Effective People” by Stephen R. Covey
South African Youth Issues.
Who would you like to be contacted by?
Anyone who is interested in supporting a grassroots effort to help South African youth.
Interview by Elizabeth Mhangami
Introduction by Sara Ortega
Edited by Valerie Enriquez