EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: The middle of 2010 marks the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation's fifth birthday. While this is a significant milestone and the Foundation is satisfied with its early progress, CEO Anthony Farr notes that what has been achieved so far is merely a platform for the real long-term impact the Foundation aspires to make. The reality of change, lasting change, is that it takes time.
Malcolm Gladwell's book 'Outliers' explores the factors behind individuals who achieve success. He explains that a person needs to invest at least 10 000 hours in an activity before he or she is able to master this. Five years into the Foundation, we have now served our initial apprenticeship of 10 000 hours in the field of human capital development. In many ways, therefore, while we continue to make progress, from a long-term perspective we are only at the beginning. The reality is that lasting change takes time.
New fellowship offers
We have now completed the 2010 Early Selection process and are pleased that we have made 24 conditional Allan Gray Fellowship offers. (The schools from which these students hail are included in the listing of Circle of Excellence Schools viewable at: www.allangrayorbis.org/)
One of the main themes of this year's selection has been a focus on building partnerships with other organisations involved in the development of young talent. We are all pursuing a greater common goal and it makes sense to optimise all possible synergies. So far this has led to us engaging with over two dozen institutions such as the African Leadership Academy, Rotary and Thuthuka Science & Maths, either by way of our 2011 Fellowship Launch Events or by targeted strategic discussions.
WHILE WE CONTINUE TO MAKE PROGRESS, FROM A LONG-TERM PERSPECTIVE WE ARE ONLY AT THE BEGINNING
To build stronger relationships with schools with good potential that were not included in the list of 100 Circle of Excellence institutions, we initiated a further tier of 200 Gold Partner schools to nominate candidates for the mainstream selection process. Through this, we are able to make better use of on-the-ground educator knowledge in finding candidates. We will also prioritise visits to Gold Partner schools. To date, we have received over 250 nominations from this network.
Allan Gray Fellowship: in pursuit of excellence with each other's support
The Foundation, in partnership with its placement universities, constantly aims to take its facilitation of academic excellence within the Fellowship to a higher and more sophisticated level. We are convinced that opportunities follow excellence, and that the entrenched habit of pursuing excellence is one that will serve our Fellows well for the rest of their careers.
Other elements of the Fellowship continue to evolve. In April, over 60 second year Allan Gray Fellows from around the country gathered at a camp site near Villiersdorp in the Western Cape, for a 'Connect' event. We hold these events to inspire a deeper understanding of the Fellows' community. We designed activities at the camp to encourage group interaction and to build confidence in each other's support.
Second Foundation graduation
Sixteen individuals recently graduated from the Allan Gray Fellowship. Held in Johannesburg, the second Foundation graduation included for the first-time graduates from the Eastern Cape, a programme that started a year later than the Western Cape and Gauteng. It was particularly fitting that our patron, Allan W.B. Gray, as well as his wife Gillian and son William attended.
Mr Gray had important advice to pass on to the graduates as they prepared to continue their journey beyond university. He reminded them that this milestone was a beginning, not an end; and secondly he gave a stirring plea for them: '...to follow your passions and interests; to leverage and develop them in such a way that will make your work more of a continuum to give you great satisfaction, great excitement, and make the whole of your life fulfilling.' In addition to this wisdom, he encouraged them, 'to take a moment to smell the magnolias, to enjoy your efforts and take time to treasure this moment' before heading full speed onto their next goals.
Allan Gray Scholarship: the number of Allan Gray Scholars continues to grow
The Foundation's Scholars Team has completed its selection process which began at the end of last year with over 5 000 applications and ended with the team recommending 50 Allan Gray Scholarships to our various placement schools. For the first time, this campaign included two final stage selection camps that 99 candidates attended. The camps were in Cape Town and Johannesburg. This allowed for 14 different individual and group assessment opportunities.
The current 78 Allan Gray Scholars have continued their progress and the Foundation hosted both the Grade 8 (focusing on 'Identity') and Grade 9 (focusing on 'Discovering my career') National Development camps. We are particularly pleased at how many of the Scholars are starting to excel in various fields.