Upstart is as local youth development project based at the Grocott’s Mail and aimed at young people in Grades 8 to 10. This project was founded in 2008 as a way to responding to the low levels of literacy which were evident in school performance and the poor Matric pass rate, and was established by Shireen Badat with the help of Rhodes University Post-Graduate Journalism students and a few other key partners. The young people produce a 16 page full-colour newspaper that comes out eight times a year.
Since its inception, Upstart has become more than a newspaper project; it now also encompasses other educational and social issues. One of the great achievements of Upstart is narrowing the difference in opportunities that exist for those who live in the east and the west parts of Grahamstown, by harnessing the multitude of resources available through the University, NGO’s and the Grahamstown community.
Through partnerships with local NGO awareNet and Rhodes University Community Engagement, Upstart has been able to provide computer training for over 150 of their young members. These Upstarters are now fully computer literate and all have their own email addresses.
Upstart provides a number of Rhodes University departments with an opportunity for Service Learning which is mutually beneficial to the University, its students and the Upstart project. In the last two years, Upstart has worked with the School of Journalism’s fourth year radio students, preparing Upstarters to go live on air; Chinese Studies students ran a series of workshops introducing Upstarters  to Chinese culture; the Pharmacy Faculty ran an eight-week  workshop on healthy eating, while Psychology students also ran workshops with Upstart clubs.
Mfundo Jacobs, an Upstart member since 2009 says, “Upstart for me was a new start. My involvement with Upstart has been a blessing in my life and I’m truly thankful to Upstart and everyone who is involved with it.”
Aphiwe Ngalo from Mary Waters said that: “For me, Upstart has been truly amazing; not only have I gained a lot but it has helped me grow as a person. Upstart has helped me and many others discover what we really want to do with our lives. It has given me a platform to express myself”

By Nompumezo Makinana


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