Grassroots Boxing was started by Jongi Kamko; a former professional boxer from Eastern Cape, South Africa. Jongi had been running free boxing classes in his spare time for kids in the local neighborhood (a township called Khayelitsha) to help keep them off the streets and away from the drugs and violence that plague their community. This article from a 2012 Reuters article describes the sad reality of gang violence and the ensuing mob justice that results from it.
After visiting his gym and meeting the kids I learned Jongi had a bigger dream to help the kids further. I, along with some friends, decided to help Jongi pursue this dream. Together we implemented both and education and nutrition program. Our goal is to not only help kids avoid the dangers of gang life and drugs but also help them develop to their full potential. We believe that combining the physical fitness and discipline required for boxing, with tutoring, and healthy food we can help our members succeed in the classroom and access tertiary education.
We’re still in the early, critical, stages of building our capacity at Grassroots Youth. We’re working hard to build proper processes and administraiton, recruit volunteers, increase the frequency of tutoring sessions, train staff, and increase community involvement in Grassroots. With our current resources we’ve had to limit the number of kids we help to roughly 50 kids per week. There are many more kids we could be helping. But this will require us to build our capacity (which requires money).
Over the past six months we used donor funding to:
- Purchase healthy food to give to kids before class each Saturday.
- Purchase classroom supplies (paper, pens, pencils, white board, etc)
- Sign our first Grassroots part-time employees: Amanda Mbali and Sonwabiso Ngcowa. Amanda and Sonwa run our Saturday tutoring classes.
Our future funding needs include:
- Hire full-time staff to help run the day-to-day operations and aggressively seek funding opportunities. We’re relying too much on part-time staff and volunteers.
- Secure land and build classroom/boxing gym. Our current arrangement allows us to temporarily borrow classroom space. This won’t continue forever.
- Pay legal and administrative costs of non-profit registration.
- Institute an Academic Scholarship to pay the costs that would otherwise prohibit our most promising members from attending university/college.
- Implementing Partner (and Founder of Grassroots): Jongi Kamko
- Project lead member: David O’Leary