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By 2023, The Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program will serve 15,000 young people (primarily from sub Saharan Africa) at the secondary and tertiary levels. Since a core component of the Scholars Program model is active participation in an alumni network, ASU proposed an online strategy to empower and connect graduates long after they complete their studies. The resulting Scholars Community Platform will advance Scholars’ Transformative Leadership skills through interactive learning modules and connect Scholars with similar give-back interests. The platform will also support Transitions to Employment by promoting knowledge exchange around internships and job opportunities and by connecting Scholars to learning opportunities that are employer-approved.
ASU’s involvement with the Scholars Community Platform started in September 2014 when UI received a planning grant to engage Scholars in the design process of their virtual community. UI conducted extensive research on existing online platforms and functionalities and at the end of the planning grant term, produced a clickable prototype for the platform. In collaboration with EdPlus at ASU, the university’s hub for innovative technologies, UI led a full build-out of the Scholars Community Platform which was beta tested with 200 Scholars in Summer 2016. That Fall, the platform launched to the entire Mastercard Scholar network under the name Baobab, after a tree found across Africa with extensive roots.
The project is supported by The Mastercard Foundation, who will cover the cost of developing the new platform over the next five years. In addition, the project backs ASU research that will analyze the role of social networks in supporting international scholarship programs.
Design Aspirations: Transform Society, Enable Student Success, Fuse Intellectual Disciplines, Value Entrepreneurship and Engage Globally