Our Mission & Story
Ubuntu is guided by a simple, all-encompassing, yet radical mission: to help raise Port Elizabeth’s orphaned and vulnerable children by giving them what all children deserve—everything.
When Jacob Lief and Malizole “Banks” Gwaxula founded Ubuntu Education Fund in 1999, they started small, trying to address a single aspect of the educational crisis in South Africa. Working within Banks’ school, they distributed academic supplies to orphaned and vulnerable children living in the townships of Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape. They quickly realized that education does not exist in a vacuum. Even when students had books, pencils, and notebooks, many continued to struggle in the classroom, distracted by hunger, issues at home, and HIV/AIDS.
As Ubuntu grew, we discovered that a traditional development model did not have the capacity to address the complex challenges that our community faces. Ubuntu has spent over a decade professionalizing the grassroots service delivery model, which provides cradle to career care to township children. Redefining the theory of “going to scale,” Ubuntu targets comprehensive household stability, health, and educational services to a community of 400,000 people, focusing on the depth rather than the breadth of our impact.