The US-ACF Team

From California to the New York island…

Mark Grashow
President, Co-Founder

Mark taught mathematics at Abraham Lincoln High School in Brooklyn for 35 years. He was the advisor to the school’s service club, coached the swimming team, served as union leader, ran the GED program and advised the Rainbow Alliance. Mark was twice recognized as High School Teacher of the Year for Brooklyn and Staten Island Schools. He retired from teaching in 2001. In 2003, Mark and his wife, Sheri Saltzberg, co-founded USACF. Mark has published several books, travels extensively, and is a nationally ranked swimmer.

Sheri Saltzberg
Executive Director, Co-Founder

Sheri began her public health career as the Director of Services Programs for the Medical and Health Research Association (now known as Public Health Solutions). She worked as the Founding Director of the Brooklyn Pediatric AIDS Network and was the Founding President of the AIDS Policy Center for Women, Children and Families (APC). Sheri and her husband Mark live in Brooklyn.

Bob Rollins
Bridge Project Director

Bob is a classroom teacher and educational researcher based in Oakland, California. He has a passionate interest and commitment to using educational technology to inspire learning, imagination and innovation. Since launching USACF’s Bridge Project in 2016 Bob has worked hard to grow the project in South Africa, Zimbabwe, Ghana, and other countries. Bob cherishes the opportunities to bring educational tools and resources to so many severely under-resourced children and classrooms. 

Manning Sutton
Bridge Project Director of Design & Engineering

A hands-on executive with experience in cross-functional and geographic project management, strategic planning, and delivery. Experience in building and delivering solutions to problems in innovative ways – in countries such as Kenya, Mozambique, Senegal and Latin America. Adept at overseeing all aspects of the project life-cycle, from concept to creating, defining project scope and deliverables, implementation, operations, and sustainability.  Previous technology and management roles at IBM, Gap and TechSoup.  Manning is directs Learning Without Borders which he founded in Senegal where he lived and worked in 2011-2012.

LinkedInLearning Without Borders
Dominic Muntanga
Director

Dominic Muntanga is Special Projects Advisor to the Minister of Education, Sport, Arts and Culture in Zimbabwe. He is founder of the Council for Zimbabwe and one of the Co-Directors of Kalai Foundation. Prior to joining the Ministry of Education, Dominic was a consultant to the World Bank. He sits on the board of the US Foundation for the UWC Atlantic College.

Escar Kusema
Director

Dr. Escar Kusema earned her M.D. at Dartmouth and is working towards her Masters in Public Health at Harvard. She grew up in some of Zimbabwe’s poorest communities. Despite many hardships she excelled in school and received several scholarships including one for Academically Gifted Vulnerable Children in 2001. Deeply empathizing with the plight of children born in displaced homes, Escar helped form the Dumela Initiative, which started small agricultural and animal husbandry projects to provide families with income in Zimbabwe. She was the driving force in starting the Triage and Health Education Clinic at the Upper Valley Haven Shelter for the Homeless in Vermont and the ABI Scholarship Fund for Zimbabwean single teen mothers who want to return to finish high school. She was named an Albert Schweitzer Fellow and a Pano Rodis Schwartz Fellow at Dartmouth Geisel School of Medicine. She was recognized by United Way Africa as one of Africa’s leading under 30 years-olds. 

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Alexander Grashow
Director

Alexander is the Chief Executive Officer of Cambridge Leadership Associates and co-authored The Practice of Adaptive Leadership. He is a leading expert in helping organizations and communities thrive and he consults to and works with CEOs, senior managers, and top teams in many Fortune 500 companies and international aid organizations. Alex has been on the executive education faculty at New York University, Duke Corporate Education and Harvard University. He is a member of the Advisory Board of the Clinton Global Initiative, has been published in Harvard Business Review and had a column in the Washington Post. Alex lives with his family in Brooklyn, NY.

Paulo DeSousa
Director

Paulo has over 20 years experience working in communications, media and event planning.The highlight of Paulo’s performing career was his principal role, opposite Nicole Kidman, in Sydney Pollok’s internationally acclaimed thriller The Interpreter. Paulo speaks Portuguese, Spanish, French, and Italian and is certified in Intercultural Exchange by the Government of Portugal. He was born in Zambia and lives in L.A. where he works with Universal Music Distribution’s Latin Division.

Beth Dembitzer
Director

Beth has produced and directed news and documentaries for ABC, CNN, PBS and international television, and award-winning advocacy and marketing campaigns. Beth’s independent and foreign feature film executive-producing credits include Today’s Special (Netflix), Magic Hour (Argentina), Happy New York (Poland) and Letters to America (Bulgaria). Beth is currently directing a documentary on Deogratias Niyizonkiza and the community he created to bring about peace, healing, and reconciliation in post-war Burundi and serves as Consulting Producer on Somaliland, a film on the power of education to change a society recovering from war.  She is Founder and Curator of Social Cinema @ New America, a documentary film series with New America where she is a fellow.

 
 

Partners:

https://caaptrust.org/

CAAP Trust was Established in 2016 in Zimbabwe with the vision of attaining equality between women and men. CAAP Trust works more specifically to tackle poverty and improve education, health care, food security and livelihoods among people in underserved communities in Zimbabwe.

 

South Africa - Ubank Fund TrusT

Ubank Fund Trust’s work bringing school supplies, books, and sports programs, spelling bees, and more to schools and communities has had an enormous positive impact. Ubank Fund Trust’s corporate social investment programs are supported by uBank, working on behalf of the National Union of Mineworkers and the South African Chamber of Mines. Ubank is the bank of the miners of Eastern Cape and was created by National Union of Mineworkers and the South African Chamber of Mines.  Ubank and its Teba Trust unit are USACF’s working partners in the province of Eastern Cape. They receive and distribute donated books and other materials. In 2018 USACF sent our sixth container to South Africa. USACF also provides Ubank with soccer balls in partnership the One World Play Project. Ubank has set up a regional soccer tournament for its secondary schools that runs every August. Ubank supports our Bridge Project which has established e-learning centers in pilot projects in Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth.

USACF’s second partner in Ghana is The Mothers of Africa. TMOA is responsible for receiving USACF’s shipments and distributing their contents. They support the education of students in 36 schools on the outskirts of Accra. Several of the officials of TMOA are librarians, and TMOA schools have some of the best libraries in USACF’s program. TMOA charts the books their students read and track their reading progress. The USACF-TMOA supported libraries are large with reading desks and chairs, are all well organized, and are heavily utilized.  Together with TMOA we are working on a new initiative to support libraries in Accra’s main prison and to expand into very underdeveloped inland regions.

United Muslim Relief (UMR) – Jordan

USACF’s newest partner, UMR, is headquartered in Amman, Jordan.  Since early 2018, USACF has put together a coalition of 50 NYC schools with the purpose of supplying Syrian refugees living in camps in Jordan with needed supplies. During the first phase alone, over 2,000 boxes (including clothing, blankets, school supplies, toiletries, tarps, sports equipment, and more) were collected, loaded into containers, and prepared for shipment.  A group of 14 teachers and students will travel to Jordan to be part of distributing the donations.  Plans are in the works to replicate the project in other U.S. cities later this year.

Organization of Rural Associations for Progress (ORAP) – Zimbabwe

ORAP was USACF’s first partner in Africa. ORAP and USACF have been collaborating on school development projects in four Zimbabwean provinces since 2003. Our partnership has played a pivotal role in the provision of resources to more than 290 schools in Zimbabwe where more than 190,000 pupils have benefited. USACF has shipped 21 of its 40-foot containers to Zimbabwe full of library books, textbooks, school supplies, sports equipment, clothing, toys, games, blackboards, and other needed materials. ORAP staff break down the shipments and do the crucial work of ensuring that the right materials are distributed to schools with matching needs.  
Working with ORAP volunteers, USACF’s Caring Carpenters project has also repaired more than 10,000 units of school furniture. Schools have been painted, teacher wardrobes constructed, and for the first time, with USACF’s help, there are classrooms in rural schools where every student sits at his or her own desk.

National Partnership of Children’s Trust (NPCT) – Ghana

When USACF expanded into Ghana, it found an amazing partner in NPCT. USACF shipped its first container to Ghana in 2009, and its seventh in 2017. NPCT operates out of Accra and supports 30 schools in the Greater Accra Metropolis.
In the first years of our work in Ghana none of its partner schools would allow students to take library books home. The books were seen as too precious, and schools feared the books would not be returned. After USACF and NPCT promised to replace any missing books by twice the lost amount, the policy was changed. Now any visitor can walk into a class in a partner school and ask, “Please show me your books!” and students will immediately reach into their backpacks, take out a book and hold it high over their head.  The program has had an enormously postive impact and continues to expand.

Right to Play – Ghana

Right to Play is a global organization, using the transformative power of play to educate and empower children and youth. Through playing sports and games, it teaches children essential life skills that will help them overcome the effects of poverty, conflict, and disease so that they can create better futures and drive lasting social change in their communities and beyond.
In each shipment to Ghana, USACF includes soccer balls for Right to Play volunteers. Right to Play runs a remarkable program that engages students in sports, learning, and reading.

Zimkids – Zimbabwe

Zimkids provides more than 300 at-risk children in Bulawayo and outlying areas with educational opportunities, skills training, medical care, food, and recreational activities. USACF and Zimkids have been working together since 2011. USACF ships all donations Zimkids collects in the United States to its headquarters in Bulawayo.

Because Zimkids has such an extraordinary computer program it is the site of the first of USACF’s Bridge Project e-learning centers. Zimkids students and staff are being trained to bring the Bridge Project to additional rural schools later this year.

Super Soccer Stars – U.S.

Super Soccer Stars’ goal is to teach soccer skills in a fun, non-competitive, educational environment. Its philosophy is to use soccer to nurture, to build self-confidence, and to develop teamwork in every classUSACF and SSS have been in partnership since 2011. A partnership which started simply with donations of T-shirts, balls, and soccer equipment has expanded into something quite amazing.
Since 2011, Super Soccer Stars has been sending up to four coaches to rural Zimbabwe every June to run 8-day soccer clinics for teachers and students. Each year more than 35 teachers are trained and certified.  USACF and ORAP work with the Zimbabwe Football Association (ZiFA) to develop the program and run an annual soccer tournament that involves 16 teams. The soccer instruction these teachers receive will influence the lives of the 15,000 children they teach every day.

Sharing to Learn – South Africa

Knowing that children will shape and decide the future, Sharing to Learn creates learning experiences and cultural exchanges with communities around the globe. Through global education, it creates a forum for children around the world to be part of the solution to poverty. Sharing to Learn supports the educational needs of children in 3 preschools, 3 primary schools, and 1 high school, and assists more than 4,000 students.
Sharing to Learn has received hundreds of boxes of donations from USACF for distribution at schools in Eastern Cape.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) – U.S.

Overcrowded classrooms are a very serious problem throughout rural Africa. Schools simply do not have the funds to repair collapsing roofs or to build new classroom blocks. Sometimes 80 to 100 students are squeezed into single classrooms. It is difficult to learn when six students share a single desk, lighting is poor and the rooms are overheated.
It was with these problems in mind that USACF turned to two architectural professors at MIT, Les Norford and John Ochensdorf, for help. Les and John agreed to let their graduate students tackle the problem of overcrowding. For the next two years, their students worked to produce designs for new classroom blocks that were environmentally friendly and cost effective to build. Four of their students visited potential building sites in Eastern Cape and Makuleke. The project yielded a 60 page design concept book. USACF is now looking for funding sources to build the first of these classroom blocks in Eastern Cape, South Africa.

The One World Play Project – U.S.

USACF has distributed over 17,000 of One World Play Project’s special soccer balls.  These balls have a foam core and do not inflate or deflate; they are very durable and perfect for the rural African communities USACF serves. The balls have been in 8 different USACF shipments to Ghana and South Africa.

New York City Department of Education and other area school systems – U.S.

USACF receives the majority of its donations from schools in the New York City area. Not only do these schools provide USACF with their excess library books, textbooks, schools supplies, sports equipment, blackboards and other useful items, but they invite USACF into their schools to do presentations to their students. During the 40-minute presentation students learn the difficulties African children face every day in the quest for a decent education. American students are empowered to help. Over a two week period, students will bring in their own children’s books, school supplies, toys, games, shoes, clothing, sports equipment and clothing. It is not uncommon for a donation drive to produce more than 100 boxes of donations.

New York City Kiwanis Clubs and Key Club Clubs – U.S.

USACF is dependent on area Key Clubs for the manpower needed to send its containers to Africa. Key Clubs are the high school service arm of Kiwanis Clubs. Every Key Club is sponsored by a local Kiwanis Club. USACF specifically works with Key Clubs in Abraham Lincoln, Midwood, Brooklyn Tech, Stuyvesant and Xaverian high schools. When a storage container in Greenpoint, Brooklyn is full, and its contents ready to be shipped, between 20 and 30 student volunteers transfer the donations from a storage container into a waiting 40-foot seagoing container. It takes approximately three hours to transfer. Key Club students also repack and reorganize hundreds of boxes of donations every year.

The Book Fairies – U.S.

The Book Fairies collects reading materials for people in need to foster literacy and academic success, and to  nurture a love of reading. In 2013, Book Fairies expanded their program to provide books for children in Africa. Once every two months, USACF collects more than 100 boxes of quality books from the Book Fairies.

Wonderland Book Savers – U.S.

Wonderland Book Savers is dedicated to promoting global literacy by spreading the joy of reading. It redistributes quality literature to children who would otherwise lack access to books. USACF started partnering with WBS in 2012. Several times a year USACF WBS provides more than 100 boxes of books, shoes and clothing.

Books for Africa – U.S.

Books for Africa has shipped hundreds of containers of books to Africa.  USACF works with Books for Africa and other New York City area organizations to transport donations to Africa efficiently and directly.  Books for Africa helps to underwrite some of USACF shipment costs.

Goldman Sachs – U.S.

Each year Goldman Sachs sends 30 of its volunteers to USACF’s container site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. After a cup of coffee and a muffin, they roll up their sleeves and start loading boxes. They have helped send 5 of USACF’s containers to Africa.

The Danbury Square Box Company – U.S.

Loading a 40-foot shipping contain with donated materials requires over 1,000 boxes. The Danbury Square Box Company has come to USACF’s rescue. They have donated thousands of boxes of all sizes. They are a fabulous partner and provide crucial support to USACF’s ongoing work getting donations to schools in Africa.

Manhattan Downtown Soccer League – U.S.

Many children in Africa cannot play sports because the only clothing they own is their school uniform and they are afraid to play sports because they might damage it. The Manhattan Downtown Soccer League and five lower Manhattan elementary schools run an annual soccer uniform drive that collects more than 700 uniforms which USACF partners distribute in Ghana and Zimbabwe.