Baobab Fund  

SERVICE – SUSTAINABILITY – LEADERSHIP – COLLABORATION

The Baobab Fund was established in 2013 to support student service learning projects in grades Pre-K through 12. The Baobab Fund is grounded in AISJ’s beliefs that students learn from, and are enriched by, the perspectives of others, that we have a responsibility to the community in which we live, and that meaningful service is best achieved through sustainable service partnerships. Using resources from the Baobab Fund to support their service projects, AISJ students are able to branch out into the community, build sustainable service partnerships, and work collaboratively with the people of South Africa. By developing and engaging in service projects, students develop their knowledge and understanding of local and global issues such as climate change, literacy, hunger, health, and education while also developing transdisciplinary skills to lead, collaborate, think critically, solve problems, and be ethical world contributors. Rich academic service learning projects allow AISJ students to have a positive impact on the community while also providing students with authentic and relevant experiences to transfer their skills and knowledge into new situations wherein they gain valuable understanding of the world in which they live.

Each service project the Baobab fund supports is unique as they are planned by individuals, classes, or school groups from Pre-K through Grade 12 and are designed to meet a range of community needs. However, all Baobab funds must be used for projects that engage students in active service and meet genuine community needs. Funds must be used towards a project and are never used for cash donations. The following are examples of the Baobab Fund service projects in action and demonstrate the variety of projects the fund supports.

BUILDING HOPE

Building Hope is a project driven by AISJ High School students who have a passion for design technology and helping others. AISJ students designed containers for musical instruments and with the support from the Baobab Fund were able to purchase timber in order to build instrument frames for the students from the Simunye Afrika Tikkun to be able to use. The Afrika Tikkun organization is an AISJ partner whose mission is to empower students with education.  With instruments in hand, AISJ students have been teaching introductory music skills to the students through Simunye service activity. Simunye not only provides opportunities for local youth to explore music, it also provides valuable opportunities for AISJ and locals to connect and collaborate against the backdrop of music. 

BIN LABELLING

Grade 5 students at AISJ have become passionate recyclers after learning about natural resources and the environment in class. The Grade 5 classes wanted to educate the AISJ community on conserving our natural resources and encourage people in the AISJ community to recycle. The students noticed that while there were a number of recycling bins located on campus, they were not well used because it was difficult to determine which bin was designated for a particular recyclable material. Grade 5 students applied to the Baobab Fund with a proposal to improve recycling at AISJ and were granted funds to develop helpful recycling signage and educational materials. Together with their teachers and the AISJ Communications team, Grade 5 students created user friendly labels for all of the AISJ recycling bins and promoted the recycling program at school assemblies. As a result of the Grade 5 initiative and efforts, AISJ recycling bins now have graphic labels to easily identify what to recycle in each bin. 

GIFT OF THE GIVERS 

Gift of the Givers is a collaborative project in which Elementary, Middle School, and High School students came together to raise funds and donations to provide water for people in rural areas affected by South Africa’s severe drought. Partnering with Gift of the Givers, the largest disaster response NGO originating out of Africa, these groups were able to purchase and fill approximately 250 x 20 litter plastic water containers and deliver them to rural South African communities with support from the Baobab Fund.  

BAOBAB FUND APPLICATION PROCESS

All AISJ students in Pre-K through Grade 12 are eligible for funds and are strongly encouraged to apply. Classes and student groups may also apply for funds to support their service projects.

To apply for funds, the individual, class, or group requesting funds must first complete the Baobab Fund Service Project Proposal. Proposals are accepted and reviewed on a rolling basis, so there is no set deadline for proposals to be submitted. 

Each proposal undergoes a review to determine if the proposal is eligible for funds and the amount of funds to be approved. High School proposals are reviewed by the Service Learning Council under the guidance of the Service Learning Divisional Representatives and the Service Learning Coordinator. Elementary and Middle School proposals are reviewed by the Service Learning Divisional Representatives and the Service Learning Coordinator in conjunction with the Faculty Supervisor and occasionally the Principal. After the first review, feedback may be given to the applicant(s) and additional details may be requested via email before funds will be approved. Generally, proposals are reviewed within 7-14 days of being submitted.  

Each proposal is unique and a number of considerations are taken into account by the Service Learning team to determine the amount of funds that are granted for each proposal.

Considerations for distribution of funds:

  • Is the project student driven?
  • Does the project meet a community need?
  • What are the expected outcomes of the project?
  • How will the project be assessed?
  • What resources are needed to successfully complete the project?
  • Number of fund requests schoolwide
  • Number of fund requests from each division (ES, MS, HS, and Pretoria) and the appropriate distribution of funds across divisions
  • Distribution of funds over the school year
  • Funds must be used towards a project and are never as cash donations

All funds leftover at the end of the year rollover to the following school year.

SUPPORT THE BAOBAB FUND

With the support from generous donors ranging from individuals, school organizations, and corporate donors, the Baobab Fund provides the resources necessary to continue building sustainable partnerships and making a difference in the lives of  many. AISJ invites businesses and community members to join us in a collaborative effort to engage students in meaningful service projects and create sustainable partnerships with the greater community.

To contribute to the Baobab Fund, please contact Tara Barton - Service Learning Coordinator: info@aisj-jhb.com. All donations and contributions are tax deductible.

The Johannesburg and Pretoria Parent Associations are ongoing supporters of Baobab Foundation and the school recognizes their significant contributions and support of service learning at AISJ over the years.