The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program

Youth Learning

Provide secondary and university education to academically talented young people from disadvantaged communities, primarily in Africa

$500 million
Ten years
Start date:
November 2011

Why We Partnered

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program is a 10-year global initiative to educate and develop next-generation leaders who will contribute to social and economic progress. The Program enables young people from economically disadvantaged communities to complete quality secondary and university education, and make successful transitions to further education or to the workforce in their home countries. Through comprehensive support, Scholars receive learning opportunities that equip them with knowledge, skills, and values needed to succeed in the economy, and make positive impacts in their communities.

Holistic Program Design

The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program identifies academically talented young people who have a demonstrated commitment to making a difference in their communities, yet face significant barriers to accessing and completing quality education. It is uniquely designed to provide them with holistic support, including:

  • Comprehensive scholarships (school fees, living expenses, books, stipends, transportation);
  • Academic curricula relevant to growth sectors in the Scholars’ home countries;
  • Mentoring and counseling, including academic and social support;
  • Service and experiential learning (volunteerism, internships, social entrepreneurship); and
  • Career counseling and connections to jobs in the Scholars’ home countries.

A Focus on Africa

Scholars in the Program are primarily from Africa. In recent years, the continent has experienced unprecedented economic progress and political resurgence. More than 60 percent of its population is under the age of 25, making it the youngest continent. Yet, Sub-Saharan Africa is the region with the lowest enrollment rates in secondary and tertiary education. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program supports economically disadvantaged young people from across the continent, and encourages them to apply their education towards the betterment of their home communities and countries.

Anticipated Impact

The Program will educate an estimated 15,000 young people from economically disadvantaged communities. This network of next-generation leaders – unified by a common philosophy of change and ethical leadership – will drive social and economic transformation in their communities. At an institutional level, the Program will develop best practices to identify, educate and mentor students of this profile, and transition them from secondary to higher education and into the workforce.

Where We Are Now

A Global Network with a Shared Vision

The Program consists of a global network of education institutions and non-governmental organizations that are committed to serving disadvantaged youth, and share the belief that education is a catalyst for social and economic advancement. Partners are selected based on academic excellence, nurturing environments, and programs relevant to growth sectors in Africa.  This network will expand as the Foundation adds more secondary and university partners in Africa.

Current partners include:

Partner Location Amount
African Leadership Academy South Africa $13.0 million
American University of Beirut – Faculty of Health Sciences Lebanon $9.0 million
Arizona State University USA $27.8 million
Ashesi University College Ghana $13.0 million
BRAC Uganda $46.7 million
Camfed Ghana $41.7 million
Duke University USA $13.5 million
EARTH University Costa Rica $19.5 million
Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) Rwanda and Ethiopia $17.4 million
Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) Ghana $20.8 million
Makerere University Uganda $21.0 million
McGill University Canada $27.4 million
Michigan State University USA $45.1 million
Stanford University USA $6.6 million
University of British Columbia Canada $25.1 million
University of California, Berkeley USA $30.1 million
University of Pretoria South Africa $21.3 million
University of Toronto Canada $22.6 million
Wellesley College USA $2.9 million

For more information on The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Program,                                            please visit