True North was founded in 2007, prompted by the desire to bring meaningful change to vulnerable and underprivileged communities in South Africa through education, research and the sharing of technology. At the time of inception, True North embarked upon a data gathering exercise aimed at better understanding the challenges faced by vulnerable communities, exploring the framework provided by local and national government, and quantifying the existing capacity within the non-profit sector. Vrygrond and Overcome Heights are two of the most concentrated examples of the challenges that plague poverty-ridden communities in South Africa, and were destined to transition from research effort to a fully-fledged project, with Early Childhood Development (ECD) as the convergence point of the company’s current efforts. Our mission is to set a new standard for the education, nurture and holistic development of pre-school children and their caregivers, preparing them to assume the fullness of their God-given potential in every sphere of their lives.
True North seeks to create a sustainable ECD strategy for the 5000 children who live in Vrygrond and adjoining Overcome Heights. It is also our desire to ensure that this strategy is documented, tested and refined in a way that is replicable within other communities. The road towards quality ECD facilities for all requires a strategic framework that caters for both an in-centre and out-of-centre approach, which can be defined as follows:
The in-centre (IC) strategy is focused upon developing a new generation of school ready children by supporting crèches within vulnerable and disadvantaged communities, transforming them into professional and well managed registered facilities which provide a high standard of education, nutritious meals and other essential basic needs.
The out-of-centre (OOC) strategy equips parents or caregivers to create a home schooling environment for up to 6 children per “school”, encouraging the support of children in their journey towards becoming school ready. Given the shortage of land and resources that typify marginalised communities, True North is endeavouring to be instrumental in developing minimum standards for this type of care within the South African context.
It is our belief that to implement and have a sustainable community impact, the 7 principles depicted via the diagram below are foundational and need to precede implementation of any program or development project. It is important to note that, whilst presented linearly, processes often happen in parallel, and not necessarily in chronological order:
Following the initial needs assessment, a community wide implementation plan can be drawn up using the below implementation strategy circle. In each section the need for Training, In-School Support, Equipment and Connections will be determined and planned for, to ensure short and long term outcomes are met.
The Strategic Implementation of a program rest upon foundational pillars which require smarts (functional expertise) as well as heart (healthy relationships). We have summarised this approach simply as train, support, equip connect.
Monitoring and Evaluation:
True North has a clear and concise monitoring and evaluation strategy (M&E Framework) informed by our Theory of Change model. This document specifies True North’s clear and measurable inputs, outputs and outcomes and subsequent M&E framework.