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SSP Alum Shares Stage with Melinda Gates

The Student Sponsorship Programme (SSP) is nearing its 25th anniversary, and its alumni from the early days are emerging as influential leaders in South Africa. This was notably evident at the 2023 Annual Desmond Tutu Peace Lecture held in Cape Town on November 17, 2023, where the keynote speaker was Melinda French Gates. Gates’ presentation centered on gender equality, a subject of global importance. The event gained additional prominence with the attendance of notable figures like Michelle Obama and Amal Clooney, accompanying Ms Gates to Cape Town.

In a significant move, the Tutu Foundation invited a distinguished South African advocate for women’s equality to provide insights and commentary on Melinda Gates’ remarks. This honor was bestowed upon Dr. Athambile Masola, an alumna of SSP’s Class of 2005. Masola’s educational journey is inspiring. After completing her education at Clarendon School in the Eastern Cape region of South Africa, she pursued higher studies at Rhodes University. There, she obtained a bachelor’s degree, a master’s, and eventually a PhD, focusing on historiography, intellectual histories, and life writing. Her academic achievements include being recognized as a Mandela-Rhodes Scholar.

Dr. Masola is not only known for her academic prowess but also for her contribution to society. A few years ago, she delivered a TED Talk titled “Learning from Teenagers,” which reflects her insights and experiences. Further extending her impact, Dr. Masola founded an all-girl, low-fee private school in Khayelitsha, one of South Africa’s poorest and least resourced townships. The school’s focus is on STEM skills and coding, demonstrating her commitment to empowering young girls in underprivileged communities through education. This initiative symbolizes her dedication to giving back to society in a meaningful and transformative way.

ssp graduates

Nurturing Excellence

With a resolute commitment, SSP has granted more than 1,500 scholarships to exceptional high school students hailing from underprivileged backgrounds, facilitating their enrollment in some of South Africa’s most prestigious private schools. 

SSP’s comprehensive approach encompasses a range of support services tailored to foster a conducive environment, ensuring the triumphant journey of students in their new academic settings.

Through joint efforts, we strive to shed light on the stark reality of inequitable access to quality education in South Africa. We are committed to driving conversations, sparking engagement, and mobilizing resources within the United States to address this pressing issue. By sharing compelling narratives, data-driven insights, and firsthand experiences, we endeavor to cultivate a deeper understanding of the challenges faced by South African youth, particularly those from marginalized communities.

Empowering Future Leaders

The SSP High School Scholarship stands as a transformative 5-year program meticulously designed to provide Scholars with a comprehensive array of support initiatives, empowering them to realize their utmost potential.

This program stands as a testament to its rigorous nature, focusing on nurturing the holistic growth of scholars who will inevitably emerge as trailblazing leaders across diverse sectors of South African society.

A concerted mission involves developing a cross-cultural exchange of ideas, strategies, and best practices between our teams in the United States and South Africa. By collaborating on innovative solutions and leveraging each other’s strengths, we aim to create a ripple effect that positively impacts education and social equity.

Unlocking Innovation

Cultivating the emerging generation of entrepreneurs—those brimming with curiosity and latent innovation potential despite their economically disadvantaged backgrounds—by providing them with the opportunity to attend some of the country’s most distinguished secondary schools.

Collaborative efforts extend beyond borders, transcending geographical limitations to create a global network of advocates and change-makers dedicated to rectifying the educational disparities faced by South African youth. Through mutual support, shared goals, and amplified awareness, we envision a future where quality education becomes a universal right and a transformative force in South Africa and beyond.

Mentoring Scholars

A year-round mentorship program accompanies a networking and career development trajectory. Every scholar is paired with an accomplished professional to enrich their journey in career path planning, university applications, and essential life skills for high-level functioning. This includes honing problem-solving abilities.

Developing Leaders Through Academic Excellence

The SSP U.S. organization operates in tandem with its counterpart in South Africa, forging a strong alliance to offer essential backing for their impactful endeavors. This collaborative synergy not only extends vital assistance to the initiatives of the South African organization but also serves as a conduit for raising awareness and catalyzing change.