Ungana Scholars Project
Supporting underprivileged high school students in rural Africa
UWC South East Asia alumnus Michael Ogutu founded the Ungana Scholars Project while studying at Middlebury College in Vermont, USA. The NGO, based in Kenya, aims to empower students by providing high school scholarships, mentoring, vocational training and access to further education in universities and colleges across the globe. Mike manages the project from Boston, USA, where he is currently working for investment management company State Street. The project also has a strong team (three volunteers and an independent educational committee comprising of academics) based in Kenya. Mike set up the NGO to address issues that he had direct experience of before he went to UWC.
“Prior to going to UWC, I had experiences in life that taught me how much it is important to appreciate our communities. I used to be turned away from school so often because I lacked the $125, a fee that would have allowed me to be in school for a whole year. Were it not for well-wishers in my life prior to UWC, I would not have made it through high school and were it not for UWC and Middlebury College, I would probably not be where I am today. I am thankful to all the people and organisations. I work hard every day that I may create opportunities to enable those in similar shoes as I was a few years ago to exploit their potential. My goal is to offer an alternative that would unleash educational potential in rural areas of Africa. I am excited to continue making the change I want to see in this world.”
Ungana Scholars Project officially launched as an NGO in June 2012 with an event at Michael’s old school, St. Gabriel’s Gagra Secondary School in rural Kisumu, Kenya and was attended by 500 stakeholders including representatives from the country's Ministry of Education, the Kenyan Parliament and other schools.
Future plans for the Project include sponsoring 25 students in 2013 and the consequent years, building a resource/vocational centre in Kisumu, and establishing relationships with local and international universities.