Secular Partnerships Benefit AU

Africa University is attracting a growing number of friends and partners beyond the global United Methodist Church.

The university’s newest partnership is with UNICEF. The UN agency is providing scholarships for professionals seeking graduate-level training in Child Rights and Childhood Studies. The collaboration is part of the UNICEF’s bid to invest more in the health, education and protection of Africa’s most vulnerable residents. Recent projections from UNICEF indicate that in spite of very high child mortality rates, the continent will be home to 40 percent of the world’s child population by 2050. 

As it has turned out, Africa University is a good fit for many different types of organizations. Some, such as UNICEF and ELMA Philanthropies, are quite large. Over a five-year period, the ELMA group of foundations provided more than $503,000 in bursaries and kept 84 students in college, enabling them to graduate. ELMA’s second initiative was a $500,000 challenge grant and funding for the alumni affairs office. This gift increased Africa University’s outreach to African donors and to its alumni in particular, resulting in an additional $523,000 in immediate funding for operations.

Other non-church partners are companies and small, family foundations. The Hansens’ Vikings Scholarship Fund, for example, is based in Toronto, Canada. Between 2002 and 2017, the fund donated close to $66,000 to support students at Africa University. Five students have completed undergraduate degree programs at the school because of these scholarships.

“A big selling point for everyone who gets into a relationship with Africa University is the potential impact to a continent,” said Munashe Furusa, the vice chancellor. “What you are investing in is not bound by national borders. You have 31 of the 55 countries in Africa that have been represented on the campus throughout the past 24+ years. It gives you the possibility of being involved in change leadership across borders and across Africa.”

After all, a big part of Africa University’s mission is based on making life better for people across the continent.

Adapted from a United Methodist News Service (UMNS) article by Tom Wolfe, a longtime newspaper reporter and a lifetime United Methodist. Photo by Mike Dubose, UMNS.