THE COMMUNIVERSITY OF SOUTH AFRICA
ANNUAL REPORT 2015
Dr. Melanie Brown, Chantel Klinck, Marcia Abrahams,
Priscilla David, Liticha Van Neel,
Ashwyn Swartz, Jodine Swart
NOW IN OUR FOURTH YEAR ….
The Communiversity model: As many of you know, the Communiversity of
South Africa was created to offer a “bridge to somewhere” for both school
leavers and matriculants via an innovative, low-cost, holistic, time-efficient and
work-relevant, community-based education program for “pre-professional”
At the Communiversity, we have learned that the vast majority of our students
are bright but poorly educated through no fault of their own. Only placing
them in jobs or putting them into further or higher education programs
without addressing deeper issues and/or obstacles to success may not be
enough to overcome self-defeating attitudes and behaviors or to take them out
of the riptide pull of negative forces within their communities.
The Communiversity structure offers a five-month Phase One program of
academic and experiential learning, including courses and techniques for self-
development, followed by a six-month Phase Two period of individual and group
mentoring towards entry into employment, training, further education or
new venture creation.
The ultimate aim is to create, refine and establish an effective model that can be
scaled at low cost throughout communities that have classroom space available -
- first in the Western Cape, then nationally and elsewhere on the continent –
and maybe even globally.
2015 COMMUNIVERSITY VIDEO
Click Here and wait a moment and watch on full-screen.
OR you can view it at www.comm universitysa.org under “Watch Our Videos”
OVERVIEW OF THE YEAR
2015 was both a difficult and a highly rewarding year for the Communiversity –
difficult in that the Vrygrond community was besieged by (legitimate) protests in
October, and a petrol bomb was hurled into our building, forcing us, along with
other NGOs, to look for temporary housing until we could return to our
classrooms. This disruption caused considerable academic pressures on staff and
faculty to enable our students to catch up on missed work and classes.
The rewarding news? Despite this situation, we will have our largest number of
students graduating in 2015! This could only have happened because of the caring
and unwavering perseverance and dedication of our management team -- who are
also a significant part of our teaching faculty – and the fortunate expanding
development and increasing strength of our strategic partnerships.
A. Local College Relationship
1. Our major academic success this past year was to solidify and deepen our
relationship with the local college – False Bay College (FBC) -- where most of
our college-bound graduates have been accepted.
2. This is a significant step for our graduates who could not qualify for entrance
to FBC prior to the Communiversity. After graduating from the
Communiversity, they are able to pass the FBC assessments and gain entry,
even if they were high school dropouts. So far, our graduates have been
accepted in engineering, culinary and hospitality, accounting, information
technology, carpentry and criminology, etc.
3. FBC has let us know that they are very pleased with the calibre of students
from the Communiversity. They describe our students as more committed,
more disciplined, more goal-oriented - and far less absent.
4. We now have an entry process in place to enable those Communiversity
students who qualify to be looked at favorably by the admissions office in
order to receive full bursaries/scholarships, learnerships and other stipends.
5. The Communiversity has a particularly important relationship with the
engineering department that has accepted a very large proportion of our
graduates: i.e., of those who applied, 95% were accepted. This career stream
enables entry into practical and financially relevant careers for our graduates in
fields such as auto mechanics, welding, boiler making, electrical engineering
and mechanical engineering.
B. Accredited English Communication and Mathematics
We are continuing to offer The Foundational Learning Competency Certification
Program (FLC) from MediaWorks taught by two of our management team who are
also skilled, experienced teachers: English Communication (Priscilla David) and
Mathematical Literacy (Liticha Van Neel). This immersion FLC course provides a key
educational component to open doors for our students into further education
and/or corporate opportunities.
C. Computer Skills
We also continuing our accredited Basic Computer Skills course (Computers4Kids)
that provides an internationally-recognized certificate (ICDL), as well as a beginning
coding and programming course supported by the US-based Broadcom Foundation.
D. Experiential Courses
1. Junior Achievement South Africa taught an accredited course on
Entrepreneurship to two intakes of Communiversity students in 2015 pro bono (to
continue in 2016) that included starting up student businesses. Here are the results
of the first JA course:
We are extremely impressed with the way the students conducted themselves
and the commitment they showed. We thank you, Communiversity, for
recruiting them and for encouraging and supporting them along the way. Past
programmes have always been a challenge with regards attendance and
commitment so we were in awe at the fact that 37 students deservedly
graduated from the programme with a JASA certificate, all having above 70%
attendance. A total of 9 businesses were started during the programme using
the skills they gained. We trust that we will be able to grow this valuable
partnership and we have the opportunity to run our programme with future
Elena Meyer, Junior Achievement, South Africa, JA Worldwide
Communiversity entrepreneurship students with their teacher Mr. Norman Mentoor
and the US CEO of Junior Achievement, as well as other JA worldwide leaders
2. TM: The Communiversity Pre-Professional Program includes the Transcendental
Meditation Program in its curriculum. Thanks to the dedication of Liz and Barry
Welsh who run the Cape Town TM Centre, and other local TM teachers, every
student is invited to learn this simple technique for eliminating physiological and
emotional stress and the results of trauma, and for improving cognitive abilities
and brain functioning.
3. Other Experiential Courses
Cooking with Gloria Welding First Aid
In 2105, the Communiversity also offered:
An accredited First Aid program through ECTEC;
An organic gardening program taught by a locally-based NGO, SoSo;
A culinary course taught by community chefs and a top chef from Tsogo
Sun in Cape Town, part of a leading SA hotel chain, Southern Sun.
Swimming and surfing lessons thanks to the generosity of Roxy’s Surf
Emporium and William Davis’ GapYear SA
A work-readiness course taught by Ricardo Van der Merwe from
Two nature camps: one 5-day sojourn in the Cedarburg region from
Cape Leopard Trust and one from the Cape Town Environment and
Education Training (CTEET) camp. These nature camp experiences were
Below is a graphic illustrating enrollment/graduation statistics:
Over the past year and a half, we have put in place a more rigorous recruitment and
candidate assessment and interview process. We are choosing those entrants who are most
committed to the Communiversity program and to a brighter future for themselves, their
families and their communities. As a result, of the student groups we are now enrolling,
there is a lower percentage of dropouts and an increased percentage of successful
Before the Communiversity: 85% of students who enter the Communiversity are either
unemployed or have left school early or both.
An average of 74% of entrants graduate. (This is a high percentage for this
After the Communiversity: 87% of our graduates have been accepted into a college, a job,
a training program, or are running their own businesses.
Intake I : July -
Intake II : Jan -
Intake III : July -
Intake IV : Jan -
Intake V: July -
Intake VI: Jan -
Intake VII: July -
Intake VIII: Jan
2016 - Jun 2016
Student Numbers July 2012 - Dec 2015
Enrolled Dropped Off Graduated
I absolutely boast about the Communiversity graduates I now have the pleasure of calling
my employees. I get goose bumps when I talk about these humble, respectful, responsible,
amazing people I have had the joy of employing.
Michelle King, Cinnabon SA, National Marketing Director
and Head of the Cape Town offices
Because the five-month Communiversity program parallels the requirements of the
workplace as well as other higher education programs, students experience what it
means to be expected be on time, flexible, responsible, mature, self-sufficient and
why it is so important to maintain integrity, honesty and helpfulness in all aspects of
life- and to gain the confidence necessary to be selected for the workplace.
As a result of the Communiversity approach, we already have over 20 companies
who have hired and invested in our graduates. We have now placed students at
Woolworths, Cinnabon, Alexander Forbes, and at the International Volunteer
Exchange, as well as at a variety of other businesses. We are further building onto
the project by exploring synchronous mandates with the regional SETAs, especially
the Services SETA, in order to find appropriate windows for funding related to
placements, learnerships and scaling the Communiversity into other communities in
the Western Cape in the near future.
The David Lynch Foundation honored The Communiversity of South Africa with
its first global “EnterPrize”. The EnterPrize was presented to the Communiversity
co-founder and executive director Dr. Melanie Brown by David Lynch Foundation
executive director Bob Roth at a public ceremony at the DLF New York City
offices on Thursday, December 3.
"The Communiversity of South Africa has proven to be a highly beneficial, time-efficient and
low- cost model with strong outcomes that we believe could be used successfully
throughout the world. The David Lynch Foundation is delighted and proud to honor their
remarkable achievement – the creation of a ‘bridge to somewhere” for disadvantaged, at-
Bob Roth, Executive Director, David Lynch Foundation, New York
BENEFACTORS, ADVISORS and VOLUNTEERS
As we are now in our fourth year, we continue to deeply honor our beloved
supporters, particularly those far-seeing early donors who were able to envision
that our innovative, job-relevant community-based enterprise offering “pre-
professional” development for bright and deserving but financially disadvantaged
youth would justify their early investment. To name a few:
South African foundations, including the DG Murray Trust (2014, 2015, 2016),
The Nussbaum Foundation (2014, 2015, 2016), The Learning Trust (2013, 2014,
2015) and the Kirsh Foundation (2015, 2016);
US foundations, including the Ford Foundation (2012, 2013), the Charles
Evans Foundation (2012, 2013), the David Lynch Foundation (2013, 2015), the
CIDA Foundation (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016), the Gordon Family Charitable
Trust (2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016) and The Broadcom Foundation (2015).
We have also received donations from over 70 generous families and
In addition, we continue to receive substantial in-kind support from a number
of benefactors, including Junior Achievement, FunDza, and the Tsogo Sun
Please see our website www.communiversitysa.org for a list of all benefactors.
Advisory Support from Some Significant Individuals
Here are just some of the marvelous and caring individuals helping us to
succeed: (Please see www.communiversitysa.org for full list).
Wendy Lucas-Bull, Chair of Barclays Africa Group and ABSA Bank -- a continual
guiding light from the beginning;
Jeannie Karth, a wise and generous teacher and pathfinder;
Mark Gamble, always offering wonderfully helpful connections;
Lisa Wimmers, our Finance Director, owner of Simple Solutions, also Mark
Dawson of BDV Platinum (auditors);
Roy Silver, founder of Quest, and his wife Debby have been brilliant major
Singer/activist/philanthropist Annie Lennox also became our champion
(See UCT Baxter Theater Benefit video on the website
Nik Rabinowitz, the well-known South African comic performer, continues to
provide his generous and dynamic support;
Jeff Rosenberg, General Manager, Tsogo Sun and his wife, Sue, offer steady
Shelagh Gastrow, former CEO of Inyathelo, co-founder and co-director of GB
Philanthropies, provided excellent organizational guidance in 2015;
Ricardo Wyngaard, Dana Lieberman and Greg Duncan advise on our legal
Michelle Blumenau, President of Turquoise PR, guides our PR.
The Office of Patricia de Lille, Mayor of Cape Town, has given both financial
and social assistance.
Volunteers We also are blessed with a number of dedicated volunteers -- largely
professionals -- who have given their time and expertise to teaching, tutoring
and mentoring our students. Our volunteers also include many caring members
of the Vrygrond community. We could not manage without them.
NEWS REPORT: The Communiversity made the national South African
TV news in 2015! Here’s a 2-minute feature that was recently broadcast:
SUSTAINABILITY AND REPLICATION
Sustainability Nowadays, many non-profits are being asked to integrate the
concept of “sustainability” into their work. In the same way that parents want
to feel that their children will one day be self-sufficient, no funders want to feel
that their support must go on forever. Towards this end, we at the
Communiversity have worked diligently to keep our costs per student down. One
way we do it is to work with NGOs and other partners that want to fulfill their
missions in a stable learning environment. We are pleased to report that we are
managing to achieve our goals at around R15,000 per student p.a. or under
$1000 p.a. (at current exchange rates).
However, the “enterprise” approach to funding can sometimes confuse the overall
ability of an NGO to be self-sustaining with the overall success of its program for
its beneficiaries. Perhaps a deeper way to look at the issue of sustainability is to
determine whether or not our beneficiaries end up themselves becoming self-
sufficient -- are they draining the economy further or do new skills, careers and
jobs give them the ability to start putting capital into the economy and paying
taxes? Our Communiversity results: Over 80% of our graduates are now
putting in or preparing to put capital into the national economy, not draining
it. As is widely known, only 7% of South Africans are currently paying taxes. Given
that a large majority of our graduates who have been mostly living on social
grants either get jobs once they leave the Communiversity and start paying taxes
or enter college with the goal of becoming an earning professional, does this
result not constitute a viable foray into the arena of economic sustainability? We
believe it does.
Replication More and more students have to travel great distances to our
campus every day. We long to alleviate this situation by opening more
Communiversities. Because we have now established a successful program in the
Vrygrond community, we are consistently looking to scale and to set up other
campuses to offer our program citywide and then nationwide. As a first step, we
have recently been offered classrooms in a new community center/centre in
Khayelitsha. We are focused on raising further funds to take advantage of this
wonderful offer. We would like to partner with one or more like-minded
investors, so we can start to quickly scale this much-needed model.
You have all been – and continue to be - our heroes in one way or another, and we
are taking this opportunity to deeply thank each of you for your kindness, support
and guidance in bringing about the growth and success of the Communiversity.
We welcome your questions and thoughts as we continue the journey…
With all good wishes for a peaceful and joyful 2016 … and infinite gratitude from
our Communiversity team ---
Dr. Melanie Brown, Executive Director
US: 641 472 4100
SA: 081 840 1017
Chantel Klinck, Program Director
office: 021 824 0055
cell: 072 901 2162
Marcia Abrahams, Director of Development
US: 641 472 1089
SA: SA 071 244 3036
Priscilla David, Director of Education and Training
office: 021 824 0055
Liticha Van Neel, Director of Student and Community Relations
office: 021 824 0055
Ashwyn Swartz, Director of Recruitment and Placement
office: 021 824 0055
Jodine Swart, Senior Administrator
office: 021 824 0055
FOR ALL GENERAL INQUIRIES AND INFORMATION,
please email email@example.com
In South Africa, we have in place the necessary requirements for good
We are registered as a Non Profit Organization (NPO #201200701208).
We are registered as a Public Benefit Organization (PBO #930040324).
Our name and trademark are registered.
We have a Board of Directors.
We have a Finance Director overseeing our banking, including grants, other
donations and all payments.
We work with an auditing company overseeing our taxes, etc. and reporting
via an annual audit.
In the US:
We have a 501c3 non-profit, CIDA (Communiversity: Innovation and
Development for Africa) Foundation (a.k.a. Communiversity Foundation),
established in 2002, that gives 100% of all donations intended for the
Communiversity to the Communiversity and is governed by a separate Board