The MasterCard Foundation and BRAC Launch $46.7 Million Scholars Program for 5,000 Secondary Students in Uganda

BRAC joins The MasterCard Foundation’s 10-year global Scholars Program to develop next-generation African leaders

Kampala, Uganda – BRAC, a global development organization founded in Bangladesh in 1972, has partnered with The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program to launch a national-level scholarship program in Uganda, providing academically promising students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds with access to a quality education. Over an eight year period, The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program at BRAC will enable 5,000 talented students to complete secondary school and transition into higher education. The program also provides students with leadership development, work skills, social and emotional competencies, and experience in community service.

Selected scholars will emerge as the face of changing Uganda – a new generation of mentors, role models, policy makers, entrepreneurs, civil servants and NGO leaders who can combine their intellectual acumen with empathy and humility to build the country’s future.

Uganda is the world’s youngest country, with a median age of 14. For Uganda’s “youth bulge,” the need for access to a quality education is clear. Even with government efforts at providing universal secondary education, students still pay fees to cover the cost of attendance and educational expenses. This obstacle is even more acute for students from poor households. Geographic location and gender further limit access to education, as students from rural areas receive fewer years of education, as do girls compared to boys.

Sir Fazle Hasan Abed, the founder and chairperson of BRAC, was on hand at a launch event in Kampala on May 3. “One reason for my optimism about Uganda is the energy and enterprise of the country’s young people, one of the greatest assets any society can have. Government, civil society and the private sector need to harness this energy by engaging directly with young leaders.”

“Enabling young students in Uganda to complete their secondary education enhances their personal and economic empowerment, and capacity to become active leaders of change in their communities,” says Reeta Roy, President and CEO of The MasterCard Foundation. “We are thrilled that BRAC is joining us to advance access to education of Ugandans who will contribute to equitable economic growth and positive social impact.”

The programme will reach both O-Level scholars who will enter Senior One (S1) and receive support for six years (3,400 scholars), and the A-Level scholars who will enter at Senior Five (S5) and receive support for two years (1,600 scholars) in 77 districts. The programme also aims to ensure 60% of the scholars are girls.

With a total investment of approximately $46.7 million over eight years from The MasterCard Foundation, BRAC Uganda has already evaluated the first round of applications received in November 2012. The Scholars were selected through a robust multistage screening process involving stakeholders at the community and national levels. After reviewing 14,000 applicants through multiple stages of screening, 613 Scholars from 49 districts have received support in the first quarter of 2013.

BRAC entered Uganda in 2006 and has become the country’s largest NGO, with 200 offices and nearly 2,500 employees, in large part due to the continued partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. BRAC has established working relationships with the Ugandan Ministry of Education and Sports, and with schools, teachers, and communities to create a strong network of collaboration.

As a partner in The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program, BRAC joins a global network of education institutions and non-profit organizations who share a commitment to serving disadvantaged youth. Partners in the program will develop best practices to educate and mentor economically disadvantaged young people and transition them to the workforce.


BRAC, a development organization founded in Bangladesh in 1972, is a global leader in creating opportunities at scale as a means to end poverty. With more than 100,000 employees, it is the world’s largest non-governmental organization, touching the lives of an estimated 126 million in 11 countries using a wide array of antipoverty tools such as microfinance, education, healthcare, legal rights training and more. BRAC USA is a US affiliate created in 2007 to advance and support BRAC’s global mission.


The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program provides academically talented yet financially disadvantaged young people, particularly from Africa, with access to quality and relevant secondary and university education. Students selected for the Program receive a holistic set of financial, social, and academic supports throughout their education and during their post-graduate transitions. The Program consists of a global network of education institutions and non-profit organizations, who together believe that education is a catalyst for social and economic betterment. The Program aims to educate 15,000 young people, and enable them to contribute to the economic growth and social of development in their countries of origin.


The MasterCard Foundation is an independent, global organization based in Toronto, Canada, with more than $6 billion in assets.  Through collaboration with partner organizations in 49 countries, it is creating opportunities for all people to learn and prosper.  The Foundation’s programs promote financial inclusion and advance youth learning, mostly in Africa.  Established in 2006 through the generosity of MasterCard Worldwide when it became a public company, the Foundation is separate and independent from the company.  Its policies, operations, and funding decisions are determined by its own Foundation Board of Directors and President and CEO.  To learn more about the Foundation, please visit www.mastercardfdn.org.

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