Inkululeko Challenge

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At Inkululeko, we strive to help motivated learners reach their full potential, especially in the face of socio-economic disparities. Our goal with these projects is to create opportunities for SUNY (and other) students to contribute to, and communicate with, the local community.

Project context

In a nation just over two decades into democracy, we know that the success of the next two relies on equipping capable, educated agents of change. 

Those agents of tomorrow? They’re in our classroom today. 

A Department of Basic Education report shows that in South Africa, less than 30% of students finish grade12 by the age of 18. We contribute to the new South Africa by meeting tomorrow’s leaders, where they’re at, today. We offer free tutoring,computer and internet access, transportation, exam prep, a library of textbooks and regular books (and snacks too!) to young people beginning in grade eight and remain with them through grade twelve.  

Let us tell you about Asanele. He was an Inkululeko learner who loved to talk about Albert Einstein and counted Elon Musk amongst his idols. Asanele is serious about science. When we took him to the National Science Festival he asked so many questions, the presenter was getting annoyed so he whispered his questions to other people to have them ask for him

A few years ago, with our help, he went – quite nervously – to a National Science Competition where he competed against other accomplished young people. 

He won – big. Asanele got a four year scholarship to any institution in all of South Africa. All of our students have moved successfully through high school. Some of our students are first place in their class.

Now, not all of our students are like Asanele – not everyone is meant to, or wants to, go to university. For this reason, we also have a social enterprise – a café made out of a repurposed storage container. The café offers hands-on learning for those who possess an entrepreneurial mindset. It shows how the math learned in the classroom translates to math that can be used to calculate profit margins; it shows the relevance of business studies in marketing a cafe and looking at consumer demographics. 

According to StatsSA, those most vulnerable to the scourge of poverty are black South Africans under the age of 17 living in places like the Eastern Cape – precisely where Inkululeko operates. Each year, when Inkululeko re-opens at the beginning of the school year, there are far more applicants than spots available. We want to work with people like you to expand our capacity to serve more young people each year. After all, we know there are more Asanele’s out there. We’re hoping you can help us reach them.

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Project opportunities

At Inkululeko, we strive to help motivated learners reach their full potential, especially in the face of socio-economic disparities. Our goal with these projects is to create opportunities for SUNY (and other) students to contribute to, and communicate with, the local community. We have several projects that would benefit from such a collaboration. 
  • Kunye Independent Trips – Inkululeko is working to create independent trips to South Africa for people interested in community development and education. These independent trips would be solely operated by Inkululeko rather than being part of a university collaboration and would form part of our fee-for-service funding stream. We have the program, we have the staff to operate, but we need to find ways to market these trips to potential participants. We’d like to work with SUNY students to better market these to people not only within SUNY but around the world to earn additional unrestricted revenue.
  • Social Enterprise/Common Ground Café – Common Ground Cafe serves as a multi-faceted space for the community. Not only does it allow students to develop their entrepreneurial skills in an environment that fosters growth, but it further acts as a source of income generation for the community as a whole. The students have the opportunity to learn entrepreneurship skills and how to manage a small business. Additionally, with the recent remodel of the Cafe, we were able to install a slanted roof top to collect rainfall to give to the community. With Common Ground Cafe, we want to be able to actively involve SUNY students in supporting the management of a small business and the community around it. By sharing their individual experiences and advice SUNY students will be able to see for themselves the impact they are creating in the community and in the lives of the students in Makhanda. We want to replicate this model and we want to capture what works with that model to try to replicate it in other areas in Makhanda and beyond.
  • Remote learning – Inkululeko is always exploring how to improve and provide more support for our students in South Africa. The remote tutoring program has been improving students' skills and has impacted those who participate positively. Having our remote tutoring program provides us the chance to include people from different cultures and  backgrounds to get involved with tutoring subjects they are familiar with, such as Math, Science, and History. We would like to continue building our content library. To do this, we need more tutors from SUNY to support our remote program by creating those lessons based on the South African curriculum. 
  • Database Development for Learners and Staff - As an organization working with students and staff, Inkululeko may benefit from developing databases to efficiently manage and track information related to learners (e.g., academic records, attendance, progress tracking) and staff/volunteers (e.g., contact information, schedules, skills, and background). Robust databases can streamline operations, facilitate better program management, and support data-driven decision-making.
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Project details

Timing, eligibility and other details
Length of commitment Variable
Start time Spring, Summer & Fall
Level of collaboration Variable
Benefits Digital Badge
Who is eligible Students of all backgrounds and majors invited to apply

Core partners

Project mentor

Christina Heath

Administrative Director

Experiential Learning Network

127 Capen Hall

Phone: (716) 645-8177


SUNY SDG Project Challenge

This project is for students interested in the SUNY SDG Project Challenge.

Express Interest

  1. Email ELN with letter of interest at to express your interest and get approval to work on the project. (Here are helpful tips on how to send this email)
  2. After you send your email expressing your interest, click the button to schedule a meeting to discuss the project. (Please be sure to include your letter of interest when scheduling the event)


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