The FLY Family
We are excited to share with you our 2016 newsletter. 2016 was a pinnacle year for our young organisation, a year in which we took a giant leap forward in advancing our shared purpose of making a meaningful positive impact in the lives of our learners. I often wonder whether a “meaningful positive impact” is an accurate description of what sometimes appears to be a transformational impact in witnessing the personal growth of our learners from young boys and girls when we first meet them in Grade 8 to being mature young adults upon their completion of Grade 12. We recently established FLY Alumni (The FLY Family) at the beginning of this year and as part of that process we reached out to our Grade 12 class of 2013 and spent an afternoon with them at Kirstenbosch Gardens.
It was a very gratifying and admittedly an emotional experience to see that our graduates of 2013 had become mature young adults who are socially conscious, level-headed and actively pursuing the business of life positively.
Some learners are completing their tertiary studies, some are working and one even pursuing a career in professional dancing and will be travelling to perform in Australia soon. We had known these learners from the time we first met them in 2010 and with a real appreciation of their underprivileged background, all their stories are victories individually, for their families, communities and the country. Whilst we tutor maths and life-skills, over the years we have come to realise that the power of our program emanates from having 50 professionals providing mentorship, guidance, role modelling and ultimately providing hope to our learners who could easily live hopelessly given the difficult and challenging conditions our learners grow up under. This realisation has placed even a greater responsibility than we initially anticipated; that without an organisation like ours, there may be a massive lost opportunity to positively and definitively change an otherwise dire outcome for our learners. It is with this realisation in mind that we decided to prioritise the launch of our Johannesburg chapter. We launched FLY Johannesburg on 11 February 2017. We are based at Realogile High School in Alexandra, a township outside of Sandton in Johannesburg.
We have enrolled 80 learners in Grade 8 and Grade 9 and similar to how we built FLY Cape Town, we will look to bring in Grade 10, 11 and 12 over the next three years.
The FLY JHB tutor team is 20 strong under the leadership of Khanya Okumu, one of our Steering Committee members who is based in Johannesburg. We are proud of the JHB team and wish them all the success as they continue to meaningfully impact the lives of our learners in Alexandra. With our FLY JHB Chapter up and running, FLY now has over 200 enrolled learners with more than 70 professionals who serve as tutors, mentors, role models and ultimately life coaches. This is phenomenal growth from when started in 2010 where we had a class of 20 learners and nine tutors. It has been an incredible journey for our organization and I have total conviction that the journey has been very rewarding and worthwhile for all our learners and all the tutors because after all is said and done, that’s all that matters! Throughout this journey, we have been very fortunate to enjoy incredible support from the many donors, corporates and individuals, who have supported our organization over the years. We thank you wholeheartedly and trust your generosity shown towards FLY has been as gratifying to you as it has been to the organization and our learners. The objective of this letter is to update you of our progress and last year’s key highlights.
Grade 12 results
We are very proud of the success achieved by our Grade 12 in the final 2016 National Grade 12 exams. More than 40% of the class achieved a pass mark higher than 50% in maths. More than 60% of the core learners (i.e. regularly present in class) achieved a Maths mark greater 50%. To put this in context, less than 20% of the class achieved more than 50% in Grade 11 for Maths. The one learner (Ntombozuko Ngondze) showed remarkable improvement in her Math marks improving from Code 1 (20%) in Grade 11 to Code 3 (47%) in the Grade 12 finals. It should also be noted that Ntombozuko was also awarded with the Best Attendance award in our inaugural FLY Prize Giving ceremony in 2016 proving, once again, there is a strong positive correlation between attendance, commitment and results.
FLY Scholarship awards
We are pleased to have awarded R 250,000 worth of scholarships to three of our Grade 12 learners namely, Asemahle Kedama, Bulelwa Mdovu and Chumani Mandlevu. Asemahle is pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in neuropsychology at the University of Cape Town. Bulelwa is pursuing a Bachelor of Education at the University of Western Cape. Chumani is pursuing a Bachelor of Commerce in Accounting at the University of Western Cape. We wish these learners a successful journey as they pursue their tertiary education. FLY JHB Chapter As aforementioned, FLY JHB is finally here. This is a massive step forward for our organisation and is very exciting. We launched in February 2017 with Grade 8 and Grade 9 classes of 40 learners each. The JHB team is 20 strong and is really fired up to build our brand in JHB. Other than expanding our reach as an organisation, the benefit of a FLY JHB is that we do not lose tutors when Cape Town tutors move to JHB for career opportunities, this is a massive win for us.
Five grades now in CT
Our mission has always been the ability to provide our tutoring services spanning across Grade 8-Grade 12 in order for us to be able to take in a young learner from Grade 8 and nurture them right through their high school careers to Grade 12. For the first time in FLY’s history, we were able to achieve this goal in 2016 when we introduced a Grade 12 class to cater for our Grade 11’s who had been with us since Grade 9. The grade 12 class of 2016 has been with FLY for four years. Even better, the grade 12 class of 2017 would have been with FLY for five years since Grade 8 and therefore fulfilling our vision of nurturing a young learner from Grade 8 to Grade 12 in order for us to spend as much time as possible with our learners to be able to make maximum positive impact. As such, a Grade 12 learner who has been with FLY since Grade 8, and has religiously attended our Saturday sessions, would have spent c. 500 hours of quality time with us. That’s a significant time investment from learners and tutors and really makes our organisation truly unique.
It was critical for us to have a strong fundraising drive in 2016 to set us up for the future growth of the organisation and also be in a position to provide scholarship. 2016 was our most successful fundraising year and we are really proud of the fundraising team for delivering on this massive goal for the organization. In total for 2016, FLY managed to raise R627,822 through corporate & NGO donations as well as the annual fundraising gala dinner and auction. Our ability to successfully raise funding is critical for the organisation to be able to make a meaningful impact to our learners. Given the growth of the organisation, and that going forward, there will be a grade 12 class that is graduating annually, therefore creating a pipeline of scholarships opportunities, fundraising is our single largest priority for 2017. Our target for 2017 is R 1 million!
FLY The FLY Family
Our growth as an organization over the years has resulted in a substantial increase in the number of tutors (FLY’s most important resource) which has been fantastic however the growth in tutors did bring about a real risk of a dysfunctional tutor resource base in that the various tutor teams were unintentionally operating in silos and in an unstructured manner. This dysfunctionality ultimately was resulting in a lack of buy-in to FLY’s vision and short-lived commitment threatening our long-term sustainability. In order to deal with this threat, the Steering Committee established a tutor focused portfolio in 2015 focusing purely on recruitment, development and building unity. We wanted to foster a shared purpose, culture, an ecosystem, a movement what we call “The FLY Family”. This would in turn naturally secure long term commitment to our cause which is vital for the sustainability of FLY and its mission to meaningfully impact young learners positively. This sense of family has significantly improved in 2016 and long may this last because without a highly committed tutor base all our efforts are futile and would be felt most severely by our learners. Our existence is therefore underpinned and dependent on the quality of a shared sense of purpose of The FLY Family. I am very pleased in this regard and believe that The FLY Family is really strong and ever ready to serve our learners with passion, dedication and devotion.
In conclusion I would like to express my sincere gratitude to all our professionals for all their time, energy, sacrifices that they make to serve our learners and also drive our organization forward.
I know we would be serving those who are less privileged regardless of FLY’s existence.
As such, I feel proud and fortunate that we are able to come together, as like-minded people who share the same passion and purpose, to bring to life what is known as Fun Learning for Youth. Through FLY, we have leveraged each other’s diverse strengths, in the collective pursuit of making as maximum a positive impact we can, to improve the prospects of the young people we serve. Cheers to our FLY! Chumani