Six Figure Grant Bringing IT Opportunities to Burundi

Thanks to a six-figure grant, a U.S.-based organization is set to bring information technology to children in Burundi. Burundi Friends International is laying plans to create IT centers and advance STEM education in the tiny East African country after receiving a one-time grant of $125,000 from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation. During its 10-year history, Burundi Friends International has formed English clubs and provided English instruction to youth and children in each of the country’s 18 provinces. To support that effort, the nonprofit group has transported shipping containers filled with books to create simple libraries.

With the grant from the Boston-based McGovern Foundation, four of those libraries will be retrofitted with electricity, plumbing and Internet access to create “IT Think Tanks,” where instructors can use computers to support lessons in science, technology, engineering and math. “Building IT Think Tanks paves the way for solutions to Burundi’s toughest challenges,” said Julie Marner, Burundi Friends’ executive director. “The Patrick J. McGovern Foundation understands that education leads to economic empowerment and self-sustaining communities. I am confident the Foundation’s investment will pay great dividends for Burundi.”

Bordered by Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda and Tanzania, Burundi was colonized by Germany and Belgium before gaining independence in 1962. Civil wars and ethnic cleansing during the 1970s and 1990s have challenged development in the country, one of the world’s poorest, where chronic malnutrition is rampant. Political strife returned to Burundi in 2015.

“The work of Burundi Friends International is made-to-order for a partnership with the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation,” said Liz McGovern, the Foundation’s president. “Their commitment to improving lives and embracing technology aligns squarely with our culture and values.” Burundi Friends International expects to launch “Project 2020: Education, IT Think Tanks and STEM” this fall. In addition to technology, support from the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation will allow Burundi Friends to open more English Clubs across the country, to train volunteer instructors and pay for basic equipment and supplies, such as cell phones and chalk.

Burundi Friends International works closely with Project Concern International and has received grant support from Hewlett Packard, San Diego Rotary and Del Mar Rotary.

Visit the Patrick J. McGovern Foundation website: www.mcgovern.org.

Learn more about Burundi Friends International at www.bufri.org or by emailing Executive Director Julie Marner: Julie.m@bufri.org.

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