Zara's Center is proud to partner with like-minded organizations that are dedicated to improving the lives of low-income, at-risk communities. We are grateful to all of our partner organizations for the work they are doing, both for our kids and for communities throughout the world.
In March 2020, Zara began a partnership with KSP to design a brand new facility that will allow us to serve more children and become more agriculturally sustainable. KSP is a US-based architecture firm that is responsible, among other impressive projects, for designing the offices for the Obama Foundation in Chicago. KSP is generously providing Zara with pro-bono design services and KSP has secured the additional pro bono partnership of landscape design firm Design Workshop, Buro Happold, and Langan Engineering.
Thus far, KSP has created a masterplan for the site and has started design work on the first building, a 200-square-meter residence that will will initially serve as a second building for programs and ultimately provide quarters for our caretaker and volunteers, as well as flexible storage and bathrooms. Construction on this phase is expected to begin in 2021 and will be followed by the design of a new main facility building.
In all, the five-acre site will eventually provide capacity for two hundred children and will contain orchards, gardens, playing fields, vocational resources, classrooms, and community spaces. It is designed to be a sustainability model, operating off-the-grid, and relying on local materials and construction labor. We are incredibly honored and grateful to partner with such an accomplished and talented team for our expansion.
To learn more about our expansion, click here.
U.S. Embassy - Nairobi, Kenya
Obama Foundation - Chicago, IL
Lalela is an arts education nonprofit that began in 2010 and has reached thousands of young people since its founding. Lalela partners with low-fee or no-fee schools and other youth development organizations to host arts workshops every day after school. "By building [their] curriculum at the intersection of arts education, academic achievement and critical life skills, Lalela’s workshops activate whole-brain thinking, developing the creative potential of at-risk youth and empowering them to become innovative role models with meaningful careers."
Zara began its partnership with Lalela in 2017, with a small cohort of our children and it was immediately very popular with our kids. As of 2020, all of Zara's children participate in Lalela's arts curriculum. In addition to curricular materials, Lalela provides mentorship for our staff and annual in-person training for our Lalela facilitator (Zara staff member, Rebecca Gopito). The children absolutely love the program and our Executive Director, Mr. Gibson Connick, has observed significant growth in the children's levels of creativity and teamwork.
Uncommon was founded in 2018 with a mission to "leverage the power of technology to create educational and economic opportunities for disenfranchised communities first in Africa, then all over the world." Uncommon constructs solar-powered "innovation hubs" out of recycled shipping containers and identifies young adults in low-income neighborhoods and teaches them fundamental technology skills. In the nearly three years since its founding, Uncommon has impacted over 2,250 children in its after-school coding program and 60 young adults in its bootcamp.
Zara's Center has partnered with Uncommon to provide coding instruction to our children. As of October 2021, five of our alumni (all vaccinated) are enrolled in the bootcamp. The Technology Bootcamp is a free, 12-month program that covers UI/UX design, front end web development, digital marketing/SEO, professional development, and leadership skills. Graduates have gone on to study in America, work for local tech companies, and build websites for clients all over the world. Our plan is to connect our Zara graduates with companies who have needs for remote coding/web development. This will add job opportunities in Zimbabwe, which are very scarce.
In exchange for enrollment in the Bootcamp, students volunteer daily, teaching a free computer science class to primary and secondary students. Zara's younger children will receive daily computer coding instruction from the young adults enrolled in the bootcamp. We are excited to partner with Uncommon to offer our children a more robust computer curriculum and provide meaningful skills to our alumni to prepare them for the workforce.