The Bokamoso Youth Foundation is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in Washington, DC. It is managed and run by a volunteer board of directors. It has no paid staff. Initially formed in 2008 to raise funds for the Scholarship Program at the Bokamoso Life Centre, the Foundation has become the prime funder of the Centre in Winterveldt, South Africa.
In the late 1990s, Roy Barber received a small grant from Seekers Church in Washington, DC, which enabled him to make an initial visit to Winterveldt. He was moved by the community and impressed by the way the Centre used music, dance, poetry and drama to reach the young people living in the new, post-apartheid South Africa. The Centre was part of the Tumelomg Project supported by the Episcopal Diocese of Pretoria. At the time, Roy was a music and drama teacher at St. Andrew’s Episcopal School in Potomac, Maryland and thus began the partnership between Bokamoso, Seekers Church and St Andrew’s.
Roy, together with Leslie Jacobson, a theater and dance professor at The George Washington University (GWU), began to work with Centre staff and the youth to create songs and dramas reflecting the challenges of life in Winterveldt. In January 2002 Roy brought the first group of Bokamoso youth to the United States to share their music and stories with the students at St. Andrew’s and the Washington, DC, community. The Cultural Exchange and Performing Arts Program was born and has continued annually since. In 2003, GWU was added to the partnership by sponsoring a ticketed evening performance at the Dorothy Betts Marvin Theater. The funds raised by this event were used to augment the support provided by Tumelong.
In 2008, the Episcopal Diocese pulled out of Winterveldt and left the Centre without a source of financial support. Roy, along with other Bokamoso supporters, formed the Foundation and agreed to provide financial support to the Centre. Metropolitan Memorial United Methodist Church (now National United Methodist Church) hosted the first of several years of the Bokamoso Dream Breakfasts as a fundraiser to support the Centre, especially the Scholarship Program. Eventually the event outgrew the church venue and it was moved to St Andrew’s Episcopal school and rechristened the Bokamoso Dream Brunch. Each year about $20,000 of the funds raised from all sources is earmarked for post-secondary educational and vocational scholarships.
Through fundraising activities, church and school partnerships, and individual donors, the Foundation, under a written agreement with the Centre, funds the staff, program operations, the Scholarship Fund, Centre administration, food and the annual Cultural Exchange and Performing Arts Program between the Bokamoso youth and students in the United States. In addition to financial support, the Foundation has also assisted the Centre through artistic and organizational development guidance.
Over the years, through the Cultural Exchange and Performing Arts Program trip to the United States, additional partnerships have been formed with a number of churches, schools and organizations in the Washington, DC/Maryland area. To see Bokamoso’s partners and sponsors go to About Bokamoso.