Buffett Foundation Gives $1 Million to Start Leadership Scholarship Program for Central Africans
26 Feb 2014
Posted by Elise Durham
Pictured above: Howard Buffet receives Morehouse sweatshirt from President John Silvanus Wilson Jr.’79
Some of the world’s largest and deepest ecologically diverse freshwater masses give name to the Great Lakes Region of central Africa. But years of conflict over those natural resources, violent ethnic tensions and other issues have led to the destabilization of the area.
The Howard G. Buffett Foundation is looking to Morehouse for help in developing a new breed of leadership for the region.
The Foundation has given Morehouse $1 million to establish the Rugari Scholarship Program to educate young men who live in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, Burundi and, Uganda. Eventually, the future Morehouse Men are expected to help lead the region forward.
“We’re working on peace and Morehouse has a legacy of peace,” Buffett said. “So we felt that what we wanted to do was build on that legacy. Plus, Julius Coles [executive director of the Andrew Young Center for Global Education] has this great program here and [Morehouse trustee] Ambassador Andrew Young is a very unique individual. So we felt like Morehouse had all of the components to hopefully contribute to some success.”
Selected by a Morehouse panel of faculty, staff and administrators, the students will come to Morehouse on full scholarships to focus on general education studies for their first two years and then a mix of political science, economics, sociology and history their final two years. They also will be strongly urged to minor in leadership studies.
After graduation, the students will return to their home nations, where they will put their Morehouse education to work in bettering the region.
“We are looking for leaders with vision, leaders with a purpose and leaders with a social mandate,” Coles said. “This is what I think Morehouse can bring. The Buffett Foundation was very pleased to be able to give us the funds because we have a proven record of training leaders, not only for the United States, but for Africa and the world.”
The first Rugari Scholars start classes in fall 2014. But just as noteworthy, said President John Silvanus Wilson Jr. ’79, is the program starts an important partnership with the Buffett family.
“It’s pretty clear that this is a relationship,” Wilson said. “…there are many ways that Morehouse College and the Buffett family are going to work together to meet some mutually beneficial goals that both sides have in mind.”