Embrace clients know that South Africa is close to our hearts and home to some of our colleagues. At the end of 2020, a year that made us all re-evaluate our priorities, we were looking for a worthwhile cause to support. We’ve been in awe of the work of GADRA Education for a while. Grahamstown’s oldest community organisation does so much to advance development through education in rural, under privileged communities in the Eastern Cape. There’s an unemployment crisis in the area that GADRA believes is best tackled through education, with targeted programmes to promote and accelerate literacy.

So we decided to devote Embrace’s expertise to working with GADRA on a number of initiatives that drive funding and support – including a website redesign and build. Well, we’re pleased to announce that the new GADRA website is now live. Site visitors can find out more about the great work being done to transform young people’s lives. For example, through the Whistle Stop School, literacy tutors are sent into primary schools to work with pupils who need extra support, taking them on a journey from “learning to read”, to “reading to learn”. The GADRA Matric School provides older students with a full-time classes to prepare to rewrite selected National Senior Certificate subjects. GADRA also works with schools to strengthen leadership and governance, and helps parents to realise their children’s’ education rights. To extend its reach, it partners with community leaders and like-minded organisations, including Rhodes University.

We worked with the organisation to improve the structure of its existing site, which was awkward to navigate, and which didn’t include a way to ask for or take donations or promote its current partners and corporate sponsors. It also didn’t really sell what GADRA did and all the lovely imagery it had was hidden in a gallery page. The organisation is also quite active on social media, but didn’t have anywhere to house its great stories and didn’t have an email newsletter. We set the team up on Mailchimp and included a simple news section so they could continue to share the great work they are doing and drive visits to the site. We really think this new site will help to showcase what GADRA does and hopefully encourage more donations – especially by linking to the news and donations pages from social media posts.

“Thanks, Embrace, for your outstanding pro-bono work on GADRA’s communication strategy and capability over the past nine or so months,” said Dr Ashley Westaway, Education Manager at GADRA. “As well as the quarterly newsletter and re-designed website, we now have clarity on the overall communication strategy. You listened carefully to the needs of GADRA Education and contributed your considerable expertise accordingly.”

“Like many non-profit organisations, our human resources are stretched and we’re focused on securing the funding to do the work which we are passionate about,” said Cathy Meiklejohn, Assistant to the Manager, GADRA Education. “It has been so valuable to have the support and practical assistance of Embrace to, not only remind us of the value of effective communication and publicity mechanisms, but to also enable us to get those up and running in our newly developed website and newsletter to friends and supporters.”

“Embrace have been warm, supportive and professional, providing communication and publicity tools that are simple yet effective, as well as training to enable us to make updates to the website. The remarkable thing about Embrace was the way in which they seamlessly seemed to get on top of the philosophy and approach of GADRA Education and were able to convey that in the products they developed.”

Please take a look at the site – we’d love know what you think. If you’d like to make a donation, that’s even better! Any amount, big or small, can help open doors to quality learning for young people at under-resourced schools. And you’ll be helping GADRA realise its vision of fundamentally transforming public education in Grahamstown/Makhanda within the next ten years. GADRA is currently seeking to secure longer-term funding so we hope the more professional look of the website helps with that. We’ll be watching their progress with interest, and keeping in touch for updates as time goes by.

If you’d like to make a real change to a child's education and future, you can donate to GADRA Education here.