Outliers, founded by Laura Singh and Heidi Segal supports after-school programs that create safe spaces for students, regardless of the circumstance. By connecting the skills and resources of civil society Outliers creates a place for everyone to get involved in education, from their location. This movement of people ensures that the future of South Africa is much brighter than the past.
“Outliers – where education is free.”
The team know that access to education increases students’ access to better opportunities. That’s why they support after-school programs that strive to help learners reach their unique potential.
Outliers believes in the knowledge and skills of those running these spaces and is commited to help them achieve their specific visions, in their specific contexts. They do this by training, resourcing and connecting their partners.
Laura talks about Outliers, how they support the education system in South Africa, and the obstacles they overcome.
“There’s never a dull day at Outliers, and you’re never quite sure what will fill your time. We’re a small team who specialise in being generalists. From collecting books, to shopping for stationery, to running story-telling workshops in shack theatres, our days are full of adventure with incredible people.
One thing is always a certainty; we will always be surrounded by the very best of people whether via telephone, in emails, on WhatsApp groups, or at workshops and site visits. We get to spend time with passionate people who express their love for their students by creating a safe after-school space for them. My favourite place to be is in a workshop, creating spaces for people to learn from each other and share their wisdom.”
How is Outliers making a difference in South Africa?
“Outliers supports spaces for children to supplement their learning. To set up a safe space for a child means knowing how to make it welcoming, understanding learning difficulties, knowing what makes them feel seen and listened to. These spaces are little pockets of heaven where a child is known by name and missed when they aren’t there.
We plough our efforts into the tutors and coordinators of these spaces, using our social network to connect them to training and resources. In this way, Outliers acts as matchmakers, connecting those who know their communities and students with people who want to be involved but don’t always know how to.”
Helping to improve education in South Africa is a worthy and rewarding cause. However, a philanthropist’s path is often riddled with challenges. What difficulties do Outliers face?
“Everyday we see how a small group of committed people can change the world. However, it would change faster, and for more people, if others joined in to do something about the injustices we see. A big challenge is that not everyone accepts that they have a part to play. If everyone took up this challenge, every day, we could build a new Cape Town and South Africa sooner.”
How do you and Outliers overcome the difficulties to better education in South Africa?
“We spend time creating spaces for people to communicate and share. It’s in these conversations that we grapple with ideas of justice, reconciliation and restitution. We can’t force people into action, all we can do is create opportunities for them to act. They have to identify where they are in the story and seek out their first steps.
It is the cumulative effort of many people that have allowed 150 spaces of free education to exist in our network. Some of these supporters have never set foot in the space. Instead, their passion and expertise lead them to train, to offer advice, and to provide financial support. My dream is to see every person doing their bit, where they can, to the best of their ability. I advocate for active citizenry, for the philanthropy of quiet ways.”
Action cultivates hope. Laura offers encouragement and practical advice for when we feel dispirited.
“Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly now, love mercy now, walk humbly now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it.” – The Talmud
“There is so much to be done, every day, in small decisions. We don’t need to wait until we have that one big life-changing idea. Support the just, merciful, humble efforts happening in communities right now. People know what they are doing.
Get involved in your area of passion, by seeking out that which breaks your heart. Do not fear small beginnings. Heaven is being built by the quiet actions of dedicated people. God isn’t waiting for us to be awesome before He does something. God is awesome. He is waiting for us to be obedient. Get in the game.”
If you’d like to find out more about Outliers or get involved with aiding the education system in South Africa, head to their website at www.outliers.org.za.