Grow Leadership Academy equips recent South African high school grads with skills for a tight job market.
Field Notes: Grow Leadership Academy 2016
Automatticians, the people who build WordPress.com, participate in events and projects around the world every day. Periodically, they report back on the exciting things they do in the community. This week, we share our experience at the Grow Leadership Academy.
On May 24th and 26th, Hugh Lashbrooke (WP community manager), Gareth Allison (WooCommerce marketing designer), and Job Thomas (WooCommerce education lead) visited Athlone, near Cape Town, South Africa to teach a module in the Grow Leadership Academy.
The Grow Leadership Academy was initiated in 2011 by WooThemes, RLabs, Silulo, Webgrowth, and the GivenGain Foundation in Cape Town, South Africa. The Academy trains high school graduates in challenging environments to help them enter a difficult job market.
Growing the Grow Academy
In less than five years, over 550 youth have graduated. Graduates have made over 500 job applications and started close to 40 businesses.
Starting with a one-week “bootcamp” in 2011, the program currently takes place three days per week — for an entire semester! Students learn about leadership skills, entrepreneurship, design, technology, community development, project management, and social innovation. The sessions mix in-class instruction and practical work mirroring real-life situations.
Whole lot of WordPress
During the first modules, the students helped locals by setting up projects to support the community. We helped them make websites for those projects which will be showcased on the Entrepreneurship Pitch Day on July 1st, 2016, at the Vangate Youth Café. During three-hour sessions, we taught the students how to set up a business website on WordPress.com, including setting goals, making accounts, creating content, designing, and connecting to social media. Check out three of the student sites: Green Patch, Take it Outside, and Transcycle.
Though it was a lot to take in for some students who had never worked with WordPress before, they did an amazing job and made some very nice basic websites. We encouraged them to continue to play around and make their websites their own personalized online homes.
All three of us loved getting involved with this great initiative. Helping young and eager people discover the magic of building websites and publishing online is inspiring. The students’ fresh enthusiasm reminded us of the great opportunities WordPress has given us. It’s a privilege to share our knowledge with the next generation. In doing that, we can contribute to the hope Grow Leadership Academy gives youth in overcoming a challenging job market and achieving their dreams! Publishing online empowers students, allowing them to voice their world views, and even assist those in need in their local community.
Our slides of the session and the sample website we created can be found at growwp.org.
Below are some pictures taken by the in-house photographer of Grow Leadership Academy, Hendrik Louw. Thanks to Rabia Adamson, Cyril Mphanga, and Nathaniel Dicks for their help! (Rabia, Cyril, and Nathaniel are all Grow Academy grads employed with RLabs. Huzzah!)