Congo Initiative

Rating: 4.91 stars   32 reviews

Issues: Education

Location: P.O. Box 246 Germantown WI 53022 USA

Mission: Congo Initiative’s mission is facilitate transformation—transformation of communities, the society, and the nation of the Democratic Republic of Congo. An audacious goal? Absolutely! But Congo Initiative is meeting its mission. Congo Initiative is realizing its vision to “train and develop indigenous, Christian leaders” who have the skills and moral courage necessary to lead the changes necessary for DR Congo to flourish and become a beacon of light in the continent and the world.
Results: * UCBC will graduate its first class of students, July 2011. * Forty-eight graduates will receive their diplomas, having completed their undergraduate studies at UCBC. * Major grant from Eastern Congo Initiative awarded in April 2011 for civic education, gender equity initiatives, radio/media infrastructure and technological development for academic programming. * In April 2010 UCBC received its official charter and full accreditation from the Congolese government. * Construction on the University Chapel and Community Center, the centerpiece of the UCBC campus, nearly half-completed, is currently used for classrooms, meetings, and chapel.
Target demographics: * The majority of students at UCBC are between the ages of 18 and 24. * Community members served through the Centers for Community and Family Renewal and Creative Arts are members across the local community--from children through adults. * The Center for Church Renewal and Global Missions and the Center for Professional Development target adults in the immediate community as well as the region of eastern DRC.
Direct beneficiaries per year: 1000
Geographic areas served: Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (North Kivu province)
Programs: Service Learning at UCBC: http://ucbcservice-learning.blogspot.com/
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EIN 20-3467419
919-641-8198
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Community Reviews

Rating: 5 stars  

I supported a friend to go on a mission trip through this organization and heard about the impact their group was able to make in the Congo for students and others in this country.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

financially supporting a friend who did mission work through this organization in the Congo.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

have to think about this question more.

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Thank you for your support. The various international staff that have come to Beni--either for short-term or long-term--have played an enormous and important role. They have helped to build buildings, install computer and network systems. They have taught classes, helped UCBC students with their English, served in the community. They have established friendships and demonstrated true partnership and shared learning. Your contribution has been of great value. Thank you!

Role: General Member of the Public
Rating: 5 stars  

Last year the president and founder of UCBC, Dr. David Kasali, came to the United States to share the university's mission with educators at some American colleges. He requested them to consider sending faculty and providing professional development. He asked Mary Henton, my sister-in-law, a Congo Initiative board member, to assist him in making contacts and providing transportation. I travelled with them as they followed up on their contacts. As we met with college presidents, faculty, and others involved in higher education, Dr. Kasali captivated his audience as he told UCBC's story, sharing Congo Initiative's vision that education is the key to building Congolese leadership.

David Kasali is a master at telling the story of UCBC’s beginning. He told of hiding from rebels in the Congo bush and of his vision from God that education was a way out of the problems the Congo was having. UCBC has come from that vision, and it has been blessed with a reputation that allowed it to be accredited much more quickly than what is the norm. In a few short years the school has been established, teachers have been engaged, and students have enrolled. In addition, the service-learning model used at UCBC has attracted the attention of the Democratic Republic of Congo Ministry of Higher Education.

UCBC’s students learn to deal in very practical ways with issues within their cities and communities. This past July, the first graduating class left UCBC to begin careers in communications, applied sciences, theology, and economics, well equipped to pursue their areas of expertise and to impact in positive ways the communities in which they live.

In March, my wife and I were privileged to host Honore Bunduki, UCBC’s Academic Dean when he came to the United States to generate new contacts and to exchange ideas with American educators. Honore and I visited local universities and met with small groups of interested individuals. In each context, Honore demonstrated a breadth of knowledge in education policies and philosophies, an ability to articulate UCBC’s mission, and a style of communication that connects with a variety of audiences.

The time I spent with Dr. Kasali and Honore Bunduki made clear to me that they have passion, integrity and commitment to excellence which will enable them to lead UCBC to a future that will impact the Democratic Republic of Congo. In addition I believe the quality of leadership embodied in these two men ensures success of UCBC and Congo Initiative.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

interactions with UCBC leadership and observations of Congo Initiative's ministry.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

provide housing for short term visiting educators

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Thank you for your kind and thoughtful review! It is amazing what has been accomplished in such a short time! You've noted it well. CI and UCBC are blessed by the leadership that David and Honoré provide. They set an example of stewardship, dedication, faithfulness, and service that inspires students and faculty alike.

Rating: 4 stars  

3 people found this review helpful

I volunteered with Congo Initiative for a year teaching courses within the social sciences and assisting UCBC's administration with curriculum development. In addition, Congo Initiative has given me the opportunity to continue working with them, this time from both Congo and the US. The differences to Congo Initiative and UCBC in Congo from just one year to the next were profound. The quality of the students, academic buildings, student resources, and teaching had risen so much, and I felt more than ever that this was a university.

This encompasses how I see Congo Initiative and UCBC. It is a young organization and university, and change is happening very rapidly in large part to the desire of the Congolese students to learn. In the Congolese context, which is also changing rapidly, I am very excited to know that more and more UCBC students will be seeking the same changes they went through but in the whole of DRC. Watching Congolese students decide how to reconstruct their home continues to be formative of how I learn and work in the US and Congo.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

the friendships with colleagues, faculty, and students which continue to shape my work in the region.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

focus on how to develop community in Congo for international volunteers that guides them well through cross-cultural engagement and professionalism.

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Thank you for your review. And thank you for your continued work on behalf of CI! You bring experience and insight that have helped to shape programs and curriculum. And just as you are inspired by the students, you have touched their lives and helped them develop intellectual capacity and skills to do the work before them.

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I joined the US Board supporting the work at UCBC in Congo after meeting the dynamic president, Dr. David Kasali. He has a bold, clear vision for creating a university backed by a substantial personal history in higher education and ministry. In 2010 I witnessed UCBC at work in war ravaged eastern Congo - very close to the border with Uganda. There is no question this well managed higher education community, which graduated its first class this June, is building a dynamic cadre of nation builders. It is being watched closely by the Democratic Republic of Congo Ministry of Higher Education in Kinshasha which sees in the integration of high quality academic training with a commitment to community engagement through service-learning a model for higher education throughout the country.
I recently retired - after 28 years - serving as founding CEO of a national NGO ( National Youth Leadership Council) with outreach to every state and more than 30 nations. UCBC is a sound investment in a region in great need of what UCBC offers. My suggestion to potential donors is go to the Congo, see for yourself.
I also suggest financial investments over several years to support scholarships for students and salary for faculty. Whatever resources are invested will receive the highest level of accountability. Feel free to contact me.

Jim Kielsmeier Ph.D
Founder, Senior Scholar
National Youth Leadership Council
jim.kielsmeier@gmail.org
www.nylc.org

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Careful review of financial and program materials as a Board Member. In interviews with the UCBC President, academic dean and several students on my visit to campus last year. ( 2010)

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Seek a higher level of financial commitment at the front end. Bring in board members and donors to match the vision and capacity of UCBC,

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I had the opportunity to visit CI-UCBC in March 2011. This was my first international missions experience, so I wasn't sure what to expect. We were greeted by the students and teachers of UCBC with open arms. They treated us like we were family, and allowed us to immerse ourselves in their lives for two weeks. I found through both conversations and observation that they truly live their motto, "Being Transformed to Transformed." Every student I spoke with has a desire to transform the Congo by bringing their education back into the community. Their unwavering spirits and love for their community is so inspiring. I believe in the mission of UBCB, and feel that the education these students are receiving will have a powerful impact in Congo.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

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If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

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Rating: 5 stars  

2 people found this review helpful

I have worked with several non-profits/organizations in sub-Saharan Africa, and CI-UCBC is truly special. This is an organization that is all about equipping and empowering young Congolese men and women to transform their country. "Being transformed to transform" is the motto that is posted in every hallway and classroom. I was struck by the fact that students are not pursuing degrees in order to be able to take care of themselves but are pursuing an education that will allow them to invest in their communities.

I am a part of the UCBC scholarship program - making a regular monthly contribution that provides scholarship help for students that cannot pay the full tuition. Each scholarship recipient is expected to work each week for UCBC to improve the school and community. It's a fantastic program.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

I spent several days at UCBC, and have worked with some of the UCBC graduates who are starting small businesses in the community.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Invest in lodging/accomodations for visitors/guests. This would make it easier for people who want to teach or spend time at UCBC.

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Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

CI-UCBC is training and empowering future Congolese men and women to change the DR Congo. It has been an incredible experience to be a part of CI-UCBC for the last 2 years. I have treasured every minute of it. I love how the students have the desire to learn and grow through the education and Christian principles they are receiving. The faculty and staff are a blessing and have shown leadership that is influencing the rest of the UCBC and Beni communities. The vision and mission of the university is what is drawing more and more people to be a part of this effort to build future leaders.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

seeing people making a difference in their communities. It has brought people from different backgrounds together to form a community that wants to impact others around them. An example of this would be our Service-Learning program. Through this program we are building partnerships all over the city. Students and teachers are implementing what they have learned in the classroom and creating ways for education and service to go hand in hand. This gives students desires to serve even after graduation.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

recommend developing new ways to generate more funds and create ways to recruit more faculty and staff.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

Did your volunteer experience have an effect on you? (teaching you a new skill, or introducing new friends, etc.)

I've become more confident in professional and social settings.

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

It made me feel like I belonged to a community.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Rating: 4 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

Going to UCBC for the first time, I didn't know what to expect. But walking in as a complete stranger, I could feel that something special was happening in that place. UCBC is unique in not only its teaching style, but also because of its students. Each person had such a unique story and was incredibly welcoming and loving to us newcomers. After only two short weeks of being there, UCBC had a special place in my heart. Amazing things are happening there because of the amazing people who fill it.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

x

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

x

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Rating: 5 stars  

I love working with CI-UCBC. I believe that their approach challenges the conventional development model. UCBC is building youth capacities, partnering with civil institutions, and community-based organizations to effect change in DR Congo. I have worked with the Service-Learning program for the past two years. During this time I have been impressed with the self-less leadership provided by the staff and administration, especially the Academic Dean, Honore Bunduki.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

Their commitment to transforming education in DR Congo.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

Connect organizations dedicated to improving education with UCBC and support their efforts through increased funding.

Would you volunteer for this group again?

Definitely

For the time you spent, how much of an impact did you feel your work or activity had?

Life-changing

Did the organization use your time wisely?

Very Well

Would you recommend this group to a friend?

Definitely

How did this volunteer experience make you feel?

Valued as a team-member.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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Thanks, Chelsie! Let's keep spreading the word. - Cullen

Rating: 5 stars  

1 person found this review helpful

I have been connected to Congo Initiative since it was simply a dream in the heart and mind of its founder, Dr. David Kasali. Growing up in Congo as a child, going through the conflicts of Independence, reading about and praying for DRC - Democratic Republic of the Congo - and its peoples, and visiting eastern DRC numerous times in the past fifteen years, it is clear to me that what is needed is a revolution, not of tribalism with guns and machetes, but a revolution in ethical, principled leadership. This is what Congo Initiative is doing through its diverse programs, serving university students, women and children, the church, and emerging leadership. There are many good organizations working to improve the lives of those in Congo who have suffered greatly; Congo Initiative is not simply a good organization, it is GREAT, with principled leadership and a far-reaching vision that is being lived out daily.

I've personally experienced the results of this organization in...

by witnessing the growth in character and competencies of emerging young leaders, and by working with and caring for the outstanding men and women and volunteers who are giving selflessly of their time and their talent for the well-being of the country.

If I had to make changes to this organization, I would...

I have no changes to suggest; the vision is excellent, the commitment by its staff and volunteers beyond reproach, and its implementation continues to move forward almost beyond CI's capacity to manage. More help is needed.

Will you volunteer or donate to this organization beyond what is required of board members?

Definitely

How much of an impact do you think this organization has?

Life-changing

Will you tell others about this organization?

Definitely

How did you learn about this organization?

I know its founders, and dreamed and prayed with them since the beginning.

What is this organization's top short-term priority?

Funding for building and recruiting staff.

What is its top priority in the long run?

Developing students, implementing curriculum, reaching to the wider community.

When was your last experience with this nonprofit?

2011

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