Main aim of the charity
The main aim the our education foundation is to provide access to quality education for specific high potential individuals who would not otherwise have the opportunity to attend one of South Africa's top schools due to financial constraints or under privileged upbringing, our hope is that by educating these youngsters and providing them with a launching pad to a better future that they will in turn be able to provide a better life for their family as well and positively impact their community. We focus on ensuring the individuals are well rounded not only from an academic standpoint but ensure that they have active involvement in sporting codes as well thus helping to ensure that they have the great opportunity of leading successful lives once they finish school and move on to greater things.
How the employee got involved and why
Approximately 5 years ago myself and a few friends were talking about how lucky we were to be afforded the privileged of attending a top quality school with all the benefits it has to offer and how this education has continued to positively impact our lives in many ways. Coming from South Africa the reality is that a lot of people are not afforded these same opportunities, we decided that we need to play our part in positively impacting our community even if it starts with one person at a time and thus the "Oak Tree Foundation" was started backed by private funding and in conjunction with our former high school we set up and education fund give a small number of selected individuals access to the same opportunities that we had growing up. In a country like South Africa I strongly believe that education is the corner stone to a better life for all, it not only creates the ability to have a better life but helps to enforce ethical standards, a love for healthy active living and will impact many generations to come as they benefit from 1 individuals personal improvement.
What work does the employee do for charity?
We have very specific selection criteria based on academic and sporting performance we select individuals who will not only have the greatest chance of succeeding in a competitive environment but will take full advantage of all the additional opportunities afforded to them. We fund everything from the school tuition, extra lessons, sporting equipment as well as housing where needed to make sure these youngsters can maximize their potential. Due to me being located in the US my contribution is now largely financial however I am able to leverage the power of the USD and ensure that I personally cover a larger percentage than the locally based contributors, in 2016 I ran the NYC marathon specifically to raise funds for our foundation and managed to raise enough money to fully sponsor a full 2 years of boarding school including 3 meals a day for a young man who was spending more than 5 hours in transit to and from school each day and as a result of his saved time and MUCH safer environment not only did his grades go up but he is now one of the up and coming rugby stars at the school as well. I am doing this again in 2018 with the Chicago marathon after having to miss 2017's event due to a knee operation.
What impact would winning have on the charity?
Given that the foundation is 100% self funded and reliant on the generosity of my friends the money would go a very long way to ensuring that this initiative is not only sustainable but grows. Each of these kids who are afforded this opportunity can and will live a better life, have the chance to positively impact their community in a similar way and slowly we play our part in building a more tolerant and compassionate society thus the more people we can impact the faster we can reach these goals.
What impact would winning have on the employee?
Being so far away from home can be a double sided coin, I miss South Africa terribly but love what the US has to offer, being able to have a greater impact on this initiative back home would mean a lot to me. When you see the impact that an education can make and the lasting difference it has being a part of this is something that inspires me to want to do more and this money would be an amazing step in towards that.