Progress in African Higher Ed Reviewed by Key Foundation Funders.

Presidents of the seven Partnership for Higher Education in Africa foundations, pictured from left to right: Don Randel, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Luis A. Ubiñas, Ford Foundation; Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation; Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corpora
Presidents of the seven Partnership for Higher Education in Africa foundations, pictured from left to right: Don Randel, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation; Luis A. Ubiñas, Ford Foundation; Judith Rodin, Rockefeller Foundation; Vartan Gregorian, Carnegie Corpora

Presidents of the seven foundations that comprise the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa met on June 26, 2008 at Carnegie Corporation’s offices to review recent progress and to discuss possible future directions.

Founded in 2000 by Carnegie Corporation and the Ford, Rockefeller and MacArthur foundations, the funding Partnership focuses on strengthening higher education to accelerate development on the continent. The Partnership was created in response to an effort by African universities themselves to reverse nearly two decades of decline by strengthening their roles in society to help contribute to their respective countries’ social, economic and political needs.

The initial five-year $100 million commitment by the four foundations, was expanded in 2005 for an additional five years with $200 million of new funding collectively pledged by the four initial funders and two new partners, the William and Flora Hewlett and the Andrew W. Mellon foundations. In April 2007, the Kresge Foundation joined the Partnership.

The Partnership is structured to harness each funder’s comparative advantage and conforms to the foundations’ respective geographic foci. Each foundation makes higher education grants to institutions in the way that it chooses and in the country or countries in which it has traditionally focused. While the nature of the activities supported by the Partnership has varied, the foundations’ coordinated grantmaking and joint funding of a major initiative to reduce the cost of internet bandwidth has brought greater attention to African higher education in general.