The founder’s story.
“We started Crew for a Cause in 2017 with the idea that small contributions from many of us could make a big difference in a gifted scholar’s education. We wanted to address the inequality in education and thought what better place to start than giving talented learners the chance to be successful. We found 15 people in our community who were able to contribute R200 a month to the fund and started with supporting one scholar.
“Once we began, we saw massive traction in terms of the community that we were building. We realised we could get more people involved and build a larger collection of South Africans who were interested in not just giving their money but also their time and energy. As we expanded, more members and more funding came in, allowing us to support more scholars.
“In 2022, with our membership having grown to over 100, we’re supporting 14 scholars at seven different schools in the Western Cape. All are promising youngsters who have been identified for having academic potential and grit.
“People always light up when we talk about Crew for a Cause. Everyone realises how important it is to improve our education system. It’s become clear to us that many people want to contribute to education in South Africa, they just aren’t quite sure how to do it. We make it easy for them and ensure our members can see exactly where their money is going and who’s benefiting. It took us five years to get officially approved as an NPC and PBO, but once we did we had the foundation to go even further.
“Our scholarship program has allowed us to enter the education space as outsiders – our members are entrepreneurs, journalists, chefs, artists, artisans, lawyers and accountants – yet we have ambitious plans to keep going and see if we can shake up the education landscape even further, to uplift the entire system.
“If you’re a member, thank you so much for trusting in the process and the energy you have brought to this initiative. None of this would have been possible without you. If you’re thinking about joining, please do, every donation and membership helps. We take our responsibility incredibly seriously and strive to ensure our efforts are as impactful and sustainable as possible. Through partnerships and thinking long term we believe we can make a difference. Together we can change the education system. One learner and school at a time.”
– Matthew Koning, founder
To give all high school scholars in South Africa the same learning experience, so they have the best chance of passing matric and fulfilling their potential.
Phase 1: Grant bursaries to promising high school learners from financially disadvantaged backgrounds.
Phase 2: Partner with non-profit organisations that are uplifting poor-performing schools to address the dramatic education inequality in South Africa.
We promise to choose our partners wisely, fund effectively and keep you informed on all the schools’ and scholars’ development.
To make supporting education as easy, rewarding and transparent as possible.
Easy – Our members effortlessly contribute to education with us, through monthly donations or once-off contributions.
Rewarding – We share our scholars’ and schools’ journeys openly with our members so they understand where their money is going. Our highly experienced Advisory Board ensures we partner with the most impactful organisations.
Transparent – We understand that it’s vital we’re completely honest with our members to ensure you trust us and are confident our actions align with our values.
Where to from here?
We’ve spent the past five years immersed in the education space, looking at the whole system closely, from crèche to job market, to understand where further efforts would best be put to use. Our mantra became: “First understand what is, before dreaming of what can be.”
We’ve decided to expand our initiative beyond our scholarship program and address the problem of education inequality more broadly, in the hope of having a bigger impact.
You see, South Africa has one of the most unequal school systems in the world. The gap in test scores between the top 20% and the rest is wider than in almost every other country. On the one side, there are functional, wealthy schools. On the other – which 85% of our students attend – are poorly funded, dysfunctional schools. In 2015, for example, one in six high schools achieved a matric pass rate of less than 40%. This is a legacy of apartheid and, while the overall quality of education has improved slightly, patterns of inequality have not shifted since 1994.
We need to uplift the system from the bottom up, in order to address the radical inequality. Of course, there are high-performing schools in townships and rural schools that have overcome the odds, but they’re truly exceptional. In fact, with the growth of the private schooling sector, there’s a risk that our national system of education will become even more polarised over time. This risk poses a major threat to future social stability.
The biggest drivers of school quality are school leadership, management and the quality of teaching. So, what can be done to improve those aspects of a school?
There are a collection of emerging NGOs who are focused on high-quality education in all government schools. Think of them as education mercenaries, a team of experts sent in to improve administrative systems within struggling high schools.
“They improve the leadership, manage the resources and embed a robust accountability framework to track the performance of the school,” DGMT, a strategic investor and public innovator in education, says. “In essence, they aim to give children in the poorest and worst performing schools the same opportunity as any child in the best public schools by bringing new (non-profit) management and teaching expertise into the public system.”
If these NGOs continue to be successful (initial data is encouraging), we’ll start taking steps towards quality education for all. Crew for a Cause is in the process of partnering with one of these organisations for 2023.
Our Core Values.
For education, for the scholars, for the community, for South Africa
Be Honest and Transparent
About how we operate, where the money goes, and why we make the decisions we make. Give people the best chance to understand why we do what we do.
The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.
Be a Source of Joy
We want to uplift at every touchpoint and bring a dose of positivity and optimism to our members and beneficiaries. In a world that can sometimes be overwhelming, we want to be a constant source of joy.
Trust in the process, the vision, the purpose. Embrace the honour of being able to help. Keep going. Never give up.
We want to bring future leaders and kind-hearted South Africans together, to create a space where we can grow together. We want to create a movement of people doing what they can to help education in SA.