Research Project 1: University Foundations: Towards a Philanthropic Model for West Africa’s Public Universities

As principal investigator of Global Philanthropy and Education in the Age of Knowledge Societies,  a research platform hosted by Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris with additional funding from international foundations, I participated in several international symposia on philanthropy and education, and presented my research and publications on American foundations and African higher education. Starting with the NORRAG symposium in Geneva in 2017, I introduced the idea that we needed to reconsider development and rethink the relationship between foundations and universities in Africa. This point was further discussed during several ensuing meetings on philanthropy and education, namely a panel on educational philanthropy in interaction with the public sector at CIES 2018 in Mexico; a conference on the growth of philanthropy in China hosted by China Global Philanthropy Institute in Beijing in 2019; a panel discussion on the evolution of education financing in Africa hosted by Columbia University in 2019, a panel on the influence of American foundations in Africa during CIES 2019 in San Francisco and, finally, in a recent volume entitled Philanthropy in Education for which I authored a chapter on collaboration in development between U.S. foundations and African universities with Professor Teboho Moja. This new research project stems from a meeting with the administrators of Fondation Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar and from a book talk hosted by West African Research Center in November 2019 with Professor Ousmane Sene and U.S. Ambassador Tulinabo Mushingi during which I presented my publications.  An initial research article co-authored with Teboho Moja, Towards a Philanthropic Model for Francophone Africa’s Public Universities? The Case of Fondation Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar, was published in NSI 04: New Philanthropy and the Disruption of Global Education (2020).

Background: It is now generally accepted that higher education is a major catalyst for development. The idea is pushed by international organizations, major U.S. foundations, the World Bank, and the African Union. In his book on Africa’s development, Castells referred to university systems as drivers of development and compared knowledge produced by those systems as the functional equivalent of electricity in the industrial era (Muller, Cloete, & Van Schalkwyk, 2017). African nations have, at the insistence of the World Bank, long relied on primary education to steer development agendas, but they are now turning their attention to higher education. Yet, public universities in Africa face a dual challenge: as public universities they must contribute to the success of students from all social strata – and guarantee quality teaching and research by creating positive living environments for the entire academic community. However, budgetary resources allocated by the States do not allow the university to meet these growing demands. This research project seeks to demonstrate that such a challenge can be addressed through the diversification of financial income streams and the creation of university foundations while federating multiple public and private actors.

In West African universities, philanthropy is still in its infancy, whereas fundraising strategies in South African universities have echoed global philanthropic trends for a longer period. This is due partially to capacity building initiatives undertaken by major U.S. foundations, particularly those in the Partnership for Higher Education in Africa which focused on helping several African institutions develop services and skills such as administrative capabilities, financial management, and development offices to assist in fundraising and building alumni relations. (Jaumont, 2014; 2016a; 2018b). Although limited to English-speaking institutions on the continent (Jaumont & Klempay, 2015; Jaumont, 2018a), it was a valuable attempt at increasing capacity building among selected universities. Yet, these complex power dynamics between international donors, particularly U.S.-based foundations, and African universities redefined some of the recipient universities’ key priorities. (Jaumont, 2014). There are indications that American foundations must listen more, be more responsive to the needs of scholars in Africa and build on what African institutions are already doing rather than imposing perceived priorities shaped by funding agencies’ own agendas. (Jaumont & Moja, 2019).

Since the 1970s, endowments and university foundations have played a significant role in the development of U.S. universities (Donner & Huang, 2017). Initiatives and research projects aimed at encouraging good practice and information exchange have multiplied in recent years (Cady, 2005; Gibbs & Kennedy Byrne, 2017). In many developed countries, university foundations are perceived as alternatives for generating more funding to research and training, encouraging innovation, improving student life, increasing access to higher education, and enhancing the host university’s international influence through students and teacher-researcher mobility, the reception and support of foreign students or researchers, and the granting of scholarships. In France, for instance, there have been efforts to create them for over 10 years (De Bissy et. al., 2008, Rieunier, S. 2019), and French authorities have released extensive frameworks to encourage their development (CGE, 2017; DGESIP, 2019). Yet, university foundations struggle to raise funds from their alumni, partly because this practice is not normalized in French culture. (Joannides de Lautour, 2019; Loiseau, 2019). Back in the United States, critics of university foundations argue that they often lack transparency and call for governing agencies to ensure that university foundations utilize endowments conscientiously (Contarino, 2017). Some critics even claim that they enable fraud and abuse (Robinson & Warta, 2018) or are influenced by ill-intentioned donors (Schaeffer, 2015).

Other state funded institutions in countries such as India are realizing the potential of alumni-sourced funding streams. For example, the Indian Institute of Technology has initiated programs to raise funds from alumni and received large donations in response. (Niazi, 2019). Drezner (2019) contends that universities around the world should develop cultures of giving among alumni and supporters, “not simply borrow from the U.S.”, and establish practices that can function within their culture. In West Africa, alumni giving and foundations are not yet part of the university culture, yet they are clearly becoming topics of interest among administrators. For Damtew Teferra, founding director of the International Network for Higher Education in Africa, these fundraising tools have a future on the continent: “It is true that Africa does not pursue economic and financial incentives that nurture such a culture, but the practice of establishing endowments and foundations could be effectively developed in light of increasing economic growth and business opportunities.” (2013, p359-360). Through their fundraising activities, can university foundations contribute to the development and influence of their host universities while improving the living and studying conditions of the academic community? Can they develop cultures of giving among alumni and supporters, and establish practices that can function within their institutions? As such, can they act against social inequalities by increasing the collective chances of success for the communities they serve? Can strengthening fundraising and alumni relations help West African universities break out of their historical reliance on government funding and international donors? Overall, can university foundations support these transformations or are they, as Drezner (2019) suggested, a form of isomorphism with institutions striving for prestige or borrowing perceived best practices?

This research will examine the creation and development of university foundations in West African universities. It will investigate the model’s Western origin and its applicability to West Africa, and it will assess if and how university foundations can serve public universities successfully. For this purpose, three case studies will be developed: Fondation Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Senegal, Ashesi University Foundation in Ghana, Fondation de l’Université d’Abomey-Calavi in Benin. They will provide qualitative data from interviews with board members, academics, students, and staff. Interviews will be transcribed, coded, and analyzed comparatively. Additionally, interviews with administrators in the following institutions will provide an overview of university foundations on the continent: University of Witwatersrand Foundation in South Africa, University of Cape Town’s US & UK funds; the African Academy of Science Fund in Kenya; Makerere University Endowment Fund in Uganda; Africa Science and Technology Endowment Fund; King Baudouin Foundation in New York; Fondation de l’Université Laval; and NGOsource. A survey of grants by international donors to West African universities will provide funding data to illustrate this research’s qualitative findings. Finally, in partnership with WARC and UCAD in Dakar, FMSH in Paris, CALEC and NYU in New York, this research will result in the publication of bilingual guidebooks and recommendations on foundations and fundraising strategies geared towards West African universities, and the organization of a regional symposium on philanthropy and collaboration in the context of West African higher education.

There is a need to examine closely how university foundations are formed, as well as analyze new opportunities and challenges associated with the fundraising strategies that support them in West Africa. The construction of a successful endogenous model, or models given the region’s diverse contexts and cultures –where giving to one’s university is understood differently— are topics for which this research will contribute greatly. Findings from this research will also generate valuable knowledge on how university foundations can become fundraising vehicles that benefit public universities and their communities while encouraging self-sustainability, reducing dependency on government funding and international donors, and nurturing the growth of African philanthropy.


FMSHRESEARCH PLATFORM:Humanitarian aid in Globalization – Global Philanthropy and Education in the Age of Knowledge Societies

The size, scope and impact of philanthropic organizations on development assistance have never been greater. In the United States, recent data indicates that revenues, expenditures, and assets in the sector are growing. International foundations are experiencing strong growth. Much more than an American phenomenon, efforts to document transnational trends in philanthropic, not-for-profit, and civil society-led initiatives reveal a burgeoning global model. This research platform aims to highlight the role of philanthropy in development aid through the relationship of international foundations with private and public universities, research institutes, cultural centers, schools and continuing education in the Global South. This research project is hosted by Fondation Maison des Sciences de l’Homme in Paris.

indexPhilanthropy in Education initiative

This initiative is organized and facilitated by NORRAG which has put together a global symposium series. The opening event took place in Geneva in November 2017, followed by a joint presention in Mexico City in March 2018, a symposium in Beijing in January 2018, and several events in South Africa and the UAE. We published together a volume, Philanthropy in Education: Diverse Perspectives and Global Trends. The volume includes chapters from authors with diverse voices on the many ways in which philanthropic actors are engaging not only with local education sectors, in a variety of countries including Brazil, Peru, Nigeria, the USA and India, but also larger trends in the sector such as new approaches to finance, the role of global policy partnerships and expanded possibilities for corporate social responsibility through corporate foundations. Carnegie_100_Logo

My initial participation in this symposium series was made possible with the support of Carnegie Corporation of New York.

Publications in Progress

Rethinking the Relationship between Foundations and Universities on Africa’s Development Agenda. In N’Dri T. Assie-Lumumba (ed.) African Renaissance, Education, and Social Transformation: Endogenous Foundation, Historical Contingencies, and Purposeful Fusion for Africa’s Progress. (CODESRIA Publishing, n.d., accepted). With Teboho Moja.


Towards a Philanthropic Model for Francophone Africa’s Public Universities? The Case of Fondation Université Cheikh Anta Diop in Dakar. NSI 04: New Philanthropy and the Disruption of Global Education (2020). With T. Moja (PDF)

Pandemic exposes need for new university funding strategy. University World News Africa (14/05/20)

China’s big donors are pitching in to deal with the new coronavirus – and not just in their own country (The Conversation, 3 avril 2020). Avec. C. Sellen.

China: el surgimiento de una nueva potencia filantrópica en tiempos de coronavirus (The Conversation, 14 mars 2020). Avec. C. Sellen.

China: rise of a new philanthropic power (The Conversation, 6 février 2020). Avec. C. Sellen.

La philanthropie chinoise à l’assaut de la maladie ? (The Conversation, 22 janvier 2020). Avec. C. Sellen. 

Collaboration in development between U.S. foundations and African universities in Ridge, N. & Terway, A. Philanthropy in Education: Diverse Perspectives and Global Trends (2019). With T. Moja. (Open Access)

(2019). A New Forum to Discuss Empirical Research on Philanthropy and
Education. Grant Report for Carnegie Corporation of New York. (PDF).

Jaumont, F. (2018). Partenaires inégaux : fondations américaines et universités en Afrique. Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l’homme

Jaumont, F. (2016). The Dynamics of Collaboration between U.S. Philanthropic Foundations and African Universities in Alphin, Lavin, Stark, Hoker, Facilitating Higer Education Growth through Fundraising and Philanthropy, IGI Global.

Unequal Partners: American Foundations and Higher Education Development in Africa, 2016, Palgrave MacMillan (PDF)

Jaumont, Fabrice, and Jack Klempay. “Measuring the Influence of Language on Grant-Making by US Foundations in Africa”. Reconsidering Development 4, no. 1 (2015): 4. (PDF)

Strategic Philanthropy, Organizational Legitimacy, and the Development of Higher Education in Africa: The Partnership for Higher Education in Africa (2000-2010). ProQuest 2014 (PDF)

L’influence des fondations américaines sur le développement des universités africaines (PDF)


Research Project 2: French Heritage and Bilingual Education in the United States


Promoting heritage language learning benefits all learners. This principle has resonated particularly well in the context of Boston, Washington DC, Los Angeles, San Francisco, and  New York City’s French-speaking communities, where parents from diverse backgrounds and ethnic communities have become builders of French language educational opportunities for their children. In New York City these include European and Canadian expatriates in Manhattan and West Brooklyn, West Africans in Harlem and the Bronx, Haitians in East Queens and East Brooklyn, and North Africans in West Queens. This diversity in national origins, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status make the French case unique. Importantly, collaborations between multiple partners of different socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic backgrounds, from government agencies to parent organizations have motivated this transformation in French heritage language education. Parent associations in particular have been of critical importance in promoting bilingual programs and language support and generating the larger community and governmental support necessary to sustain innovative programs in public schools. Thus, the combined efforts of multiple partners have helped to achieve a significant range of opportunities for French heritage speakers in New York and elsewhere. In order to create and develop linguistic opportunities that will strengthen the communities, French bilingual and heritage programs in urban centers and in traditionally French areas like Maine and Louisiana have required a solid tri-partite partnership  – strong commitment from the schools, qualified teachers who understand the needs of heritage speakers, and ceaseless involvement from the parents at all levels. Thus, from the collaboration of various governmental and nongovernmental partners has emerged a rich landscape of opportunities for French heritage speakers in the United States. Successful community-led initiatives have been achieved throughthe willingness of different communities to work together – the fruit of multiple partners fromlocal, national, and international organizations; private foundations; parent groups; and education officials.

Publications in Progress

Soroosh, M., Chik, C. H., Jaumont, F. French in Greater Los Angeles: Challenges and Opportunities in Claire Hitchins Chik and Maria Carreira Multilingual La La Land: Language Use in Sixteen Greater Los Angeles Communities.

Jaumont, F. Bilingual Education: Making a U-Turn with Parents and Communities in Bahar Otcu-Grillman & Maryam Borjian in Re-making Multilingualism: A tribute to Ofelia Garcia. Multilingual Matters. 


Jaumont, F., Ross, J., and Le Dévédec, B. (2017). “Institutionalization of French Heritage language Education in U.S. School Systems in Kagan”, Olga E. , Maria M. Carreira and Claire Hitchins Chik. The Routledge Handbook of Heritage Language Education. Abingdon: Routledge.

Jaumont, F. (2012) Directory of French dual-language programs in the United States  (PDF)

Jaumont, F. (2012) French dual-language programs in the United States (PDF)

Ross, J. & Jaumont, F. (2012) Révolution bilingue pour la communauté francophone (PDF)

Ross, J. & Jaumont, F. La vitalité du français en tant que langue d’héritage aux Etats-Unis (PDF)

Jaumont, F., Ross, J., Schulz, J., Dunn, J., and Ducrey, L. (2016). “Sustainability of French Heritage Language Education in the United States in Handbook of Research and Practice in Heritage Language Education”, Springer International Handbooks of Education (pp. 1-18)

Jane F. Ross et Fabrice Jaumont, “Maintien et transmission de l’héritage linguistique chez les francophones des Etats-Unis”. Québec français 174 (2015): 43–44.

Jaumont, F., and Ross, J. (2014). “French Heritage Language Communities in the United States” in T. Wiley, J. K. Peyton, D. Christian, S. C. Moore, and N. Liu. Handbook of Heritage and Community Languages in the United States (pp. 101-110). Oxford, U.K.: Routledge. (PDF)

Jane Ross and Fabrice Jaumont. (2013). “French Language Vitality in the US” in Heritage Language Journal. Vol. 10, No 3. (pp. 316-317) (PDF)

Jaumont, F., and Ross, J. (2012). “Building Bilingual Communities: NYC’s French Bilingual Revolution” in O. García, Z. Zakharia, and B. Otcu (Eds.), Bilingual Community Education and Multilingualism  (pp. 232-246). Bristol, U.K.: Multilingual Matters. (PDF)

Fabrice Jaumont on ResearchGate