Media Statements

'R100 million boost for higher education in South Africa'

Media Statement issued on behalf of Inyathelo: The South African Institute for Advancement and The Kresge Foundation

For immediate release: Tuesday, 17 April 2012

The Kresge Foundation today announced it is renewing its commitment to South African higher education and expects to invest at least $15 million (over R100 million) in the effort through to 2018. That includes a continuation of its partnership with Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement.

Rip Rapson, president and CEO of the American foundation based in Michigan, will unveil details of the plan at a celebration event in Johannesburg tonight attended by representatives of South African universities and Inyathelo.

Kresge has made grants in South Africa since 1989. Between 2005 and 2011, the foundation invested almost $19 million to support South African higher education, focusing on institutional development and advancement.

The new commitment builds on the foundation’s efforts in the United States to improve access to higher education and help students succeed academically.

“In 2011, we engaged dozens of South African higher education leaders to determine how Kresge might continue our commitment to higher education,” says Rapson. “The overwhelming consensus was that we could be most helpful by replicating our American focus with modifications to fit South Africa’s specific needs.”

Enrollment at South African universities has nearly doubled since the end of Apartheid in 1994, but there are chronic challenges including disappointing graduation rates.

In the U.S., Kresge’s Education Program works with other funders and nonprofit partners to reduce the barriers to higher education and provide supports to help ensure students earn degrees.

“We believe that increasing the number of college graduates in the U.S. can fuel prosperity and help low-income and underserved people change the trajectory of their lives,” says Bill Moses, who directs Kresge’s Education Program. “We think universities may serve as an even more critical driver of democracy and economic development in South Africa.”

The new effort, “Promoting access and success at South African universities,” has two prongs. The first prong seeks to strengthen pathways to and through universities, especially for students traditionally underrepresented in higher education in South Africa. The second prong seeks to build the advancement capacity of universities so that they can focus more resources on priorities including improving graduation rates.

The latter gets under way immediately with a grant opportunity for universities interested in bolstering their advancement capacity.

Among the first grants is a new round of funding to support the Kresge-Inyathelo partnership.

Modeled on the now-concluded Kresge-Inyathelo program that saw participating institutions increase private fundraising revenue threefold, the new Kresge-Inyathelo Advancement Initiative in South Africa is open to South African universities that have not benefitted from the partners’ earlier efforts or similar capacity-building programs in the past.  Inyathelo has developed a new initiative based on that effort.

“In a climate of declining government support, many South African university officials have told us that tapping into private wealth and generosity enhances their ability to better serve students and work to improve graduation rates,” says Moses.

Inyathelo’s Shelagh Gastrow echoes that sentiment: Stronger advancement skills are critical to meet the challenges of declining government support and improving student success.”

As part of its continuing advancement capacity-building effort, Kresge plans to fund a new partnership with Inyathelo and Rhodes University to develop a post-graduate diploma in advancement. Kresge is also offering to fund some continuing assistance to universities in the original advancement group:Cape Peninsula University of Technology, University of Pretoria, University of the Western Cape and the University of the Witwatersrand.

Planning for the primary focus of Kresge’s South Africa work, promoting more effective ways to improve post secondary student success, has already begun.

Future Kresge investments will likely focus on helping universities better support students not well prepared to do university-level work. Possible grants might include analysis of student engagement in postsecondary education, and assisting universities to use data-driven approaches to determine what interventions are most effective at improving university graduation rates – and why.

“Kresge believes the conditions playing out in South Africa mirror many of the world’s most critical issues: the growing divide between rich and poor, transitions to democracy in formerly repressive societies, and the effect of globalization on developing countries,” says Rapson. “We hope our renewed commitment to South African higher education will buttress one of the world’s most influential nations as it seeks to strengthen both democracy and its global competitiveness. We think South Africa has much to teach the world.” 


You are invited to join our celebrations on Tuesday, 17th April 2012 between 18h00 and 19h30 at 'The Venue', Melrose arch, Johannesburg.

Keynote speakers include John Pampallis (Special Advisor to the Minister: Higher Education and Training), Prof Cheryl de la Rey (Vice Chancellor, University of Pretoria) and Rip Rapson (President, Kresge Foundation).

Guests will be entertained by the Lindiwe Maxolo Band and Pitika Ntuli will give a poetry recital.

To RSVP, please contact:

Riedwaan Baboo

Inyathelo Kresge Coordinator

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Mobile: 083-288 6798

For interview requests and additional information, please contact:

Nazli Abrahams

Programme Manager

Inyathelo - The South African Institute for Advancement

Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Cell:  072 177 5732

Inyathelo, the South African Institute for Advancement, is a nonprofit trust based in Cape Town that seeks to support a strong and stable civil society and democracy in South Africa and the African continent.  Inyathelo meets its mission by developing appropriate, effective grantseeking and grantmaking practices through capacity development.  Over the past decade, it has supported capacity building at universities, hospitals, museums and nonprofit organizations, initiated the annual Inyathelo Philanthropy Awards, which honors pathbreaking local South African philanthropists, and trained over 2,000 people from across Africa in high quality advancement techniques.   


Cynthia Shaw


This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Based in suburban Detroit, The Kresge Foundation is a $3 billion private foundation that seeks to influence the quality of life for future generations through its support of nonprofit organizations working in its seven program areas: Arts and Culture, Community Development, Detroit, Education, the Environment, Health, and Human Services. In 2011, the Board of Trustees approved 356 awards totaling $170 million; $140 million was paid out to grantees over the course of the year. The South Africa program represents Kresge’s only international activity.