(1) What is Africa’s Tomorrow?
Africa’s Tomorrow is a tax-exempt non-profit organization, registered in the US since 2006. We provide funding to promising female students from rural Africa in order to help them attain higher education when poverty would otherwise prevent them from continuing. We believe that educating the underprivileged is the best investment in the future and provides a catalyst for positive change throughout the world.
While this entire experience benefits many people, the ultimate purpose is to help Africa. The idea is that by providing a great education to students from rural areas of Africa, they will gain the skills and knowledge that will allow them to return home and promote positive changes from within. With roots in the community, they are equipped with the knowledge and connections that will foster efficient and relevant progress, as well as the acumen to prioritize problems and allocate resources, rather than an international organization making those decisions.
(2) Is this a grant, a scholarship, or a loan?
Officially, it is a zero interest loan, but students can easily avoid any payback as monthly payments are waived when they return to Africa (see Sample Loan Agreement).
(3) Where does the money come from?
To date, all of our funding has come from private, independent donors – compassionate and generous individuals dedicated to educating the underserved and improving the future for all. Our donors are vital to our success and we keep them updated every step of the way. We want them to feel connected to the students and we ask the students to write letters periodically to update the donors on their progress, challenges, excitement, etc.
(4) How does a student apply to Africa’s Tomorrow?
Students must be nominated by someone with direct knowledge of their financial situation and academic potential (most often a Peace Corps Volunteer or teacher). While we realize that there are thousands of highly capable students out there with amazing potential and dreams of higher education, but lacking the resources to progress on their own, our focus is on female students from rural areas with limited access to educational opportunities. The students must still qualify for admission to the college (separate application process), which includes taking the TOEFL exam (see Timeline). The PCV/Sponsor plays a very important role in this entire process.
(5) How are students chosen?
Student selection is based on many factors, including, but not limited to:
• Financial need
• Scholastic aptitude
• Geographic origin (priority given to students from rural areas)
• Personal references (from teachers, volunteers, etc.)
• Future goals (including commitment to the developing world, specifically Africa)
(6) Who is eligible to apply?
Africa’s Tomorrow accepts applications only from nominated FEMALE students from rural areas of Africa. The typical applicant is just about to finish secondary school, or may have already finished but was unable to go further.
(7) What is expected of the student?
While in school students work part time (full time in summer), earning money to pay for housing, food, transportation, and other expenses not paid by Africa’s Tomorrow or other funding sources. Many students also apply for additional scholarships through their school and other private sources in order to minimize their out-of-pocket expenses.
After graduating the goal is for students to take their acquired education and skills back home to build up their own communities (see the next question and Loan Agreement for more detail).
(8) What is required to maintain eligibility and funding while attending college?
To remain eligible for funding assistance while in school, student must agree to:
(9) What college does the student attend?
Students are free to attend any college that they choose. Africa’s Tomorrow recommends students consider Berea College in Kentucky, which has a similar focus on providing education to those who would not normally be able to attend college. We also recommend looking into other “work colleges” (find out more at http://workcolleges.org/) as well as “colleges that change lives” (see http://ctcl.org/). And FairTest maintains a list of schools that may not require standardized test scores (see http://www.fairtest.org/university/optional/state).
Each school offers a different selection of courses and different cost structures so we can’t address every possibility here. Please do your research and begin the conversation with us early on so that we can work out the details and see how we can best work together to make it possible.
(10) What is the role of the Nominator/Sponsor?
Don’t underestimate the importance of the Nominator/Sponsor. Often times the students have never left their village so this entire process can be very daunting (taking the TOEFL exam, applying to school, getting a visa, flying overseas, etc). They will need someone who can hold their hand through a lot of it. This is the primary reason we prefer to use PCV’s in country.
Africa’s Tomorrow can provide guidance and support through the process but only the Sponsor can be there, on the ground, helping the student at each step. It’s a very rewarding experience, forming a life-long relationship with the student and family.
And, if the Sponsor is back in the US when the student comes to school, they are able to assist in that transition and bring their own overseas experience full circle. This may be the most exciting and rewarding part - witnessing the beginning of a new life for the student, from the awe of their arrival to their growth through all of the changes and challenges.
If the Sponsor will be leaving their country of service before the student completes the process they will need to find a replacement PCV that can assist on that end. It is important to have someone in country who can communicate and take action as needed.
Note that some schools require an official Affidavit of Support, and the consulate may request this as part of the student visa process. If so, the Sponsor would need to complete that form. Africa’s Tomorrow is an organization which provides support and funding, but is not an official “Sponsor” to students.
(11) What is required to apply to a college?
Every school has their own requirements so please check the website of your school of choice for details and the most up-to-date information.
We recommend that you begin collecting the required materials as soon as possible (acquiring school transcripts in Africa can often take more time than you’d think). Africa’s Tomorrow will provide students a Letter of Support which can be included in their application packet as well.
(12) Where will the student live while in school?
This also depends on the school as they each have their own requirements. For example, at Berea College all students are required to live on-campus. As Berea is a work college, students and staff work together, forming a tight community with ample support, contributing to a smooth social adjustment and successful college career. This may be quite different from other schools, whether living on campus or off.
(13) What expenses does Africa’s Tomorrow cover?
This may vary based upon the school and other sources of funding. Unfortunately, our funds are limited and only go so far, and many schools have increased tuition rates, especially for international students.
We also reimburse the Sponsor/Nominator for HALF of each of the following estimated expenses incurred by them during the application process:
Estimated Costs (with 50% reimbursed by us)
TOTAL = $3,500, we reimburse up to $1,750
We may also provide the students with additional funding as needed during their years in school to cover tuition, housing, supplies, etc., up to $5,000 per year (5 years max = $25,000).
If students attend Berea College we pay the following fees IN FULL:
(14)How much will this cost the Sponsor?
Or nothing at all. :-)
It’s an important question, because there is a lot of work to be done before a student arrives in the US, including significant up-front expenses. As you read in the previous question, Africa’s Tomorrow will reimburse half of the $3,500 estimated expenses. This leaves up to $1,750 that the Sponsor is responsible for, plus other possible expenses such as transport in country.
That’s a significant amount, for sure, but it’s not as daunting as it seems. With just a bit of effort Sponsors are able to engage their friends, family, and social networks to raise additional funds and reduce or eliminate their own out-of-pocket expenses. Plus, the expenses come in stages, not all at once.
Africa’s Tomorrow creates a separate webpage for the students, which Sponsors can then direct their supporters to and collect donations specifically for their student. This is a great way to promote the student and get others involved and invested in their future success.
Remember that the amounts listed above are only estimates and every school will have different costs, fees and deposit amounts. We recommend Berea College, but if a student chooses to attend a different school then the situation may differ. Our limited funds do not go nearly as far at most other institutions so the cost to the Sponsor could be greatly increased (as well as the need for outside funding).