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Growing Up Africa Talks

Building Sustainable Communities

Collective  Creative   Capital

The Growing Up Africa Project is reliant upon monetary, 'in-kind', and technical donations from both individuals and corporations. This generous support is crucial in realizing Growing Up Africa's goals of coming to the aid of the construction industry critically short on talent and skill, and allowing students of the building industry to receive real-world, hands-on experience; Growing Up Africa simultaneously train youth and empower communities.

The industry wins, principals network, communities thrive and students for their own networks. Students gain access to opportunities, learn critical workplace skills, teamwork, and public speaking, get exposure, and build goodwill while strengthening confidence and pride. We are a progressive initiative built up brick by brick by a small army of volunteers who are rich in spirit, passion, and commitment.


Growing Up Africa mentors are the construction industry's guidance counselors.

80% + of the construction budget is provided by in-kind; product sponsorship, materials, equipment, technical skills, and more. 


are the lifeline

of our work

Growing Up Africa is a non-profit organization that drives research-based development and design to build and equip resilient education structures to be used by poor and needy communities for a future of ecological, social, and economic sustainability. The Devland Soweto Education Campus built and donated is provided to The University of Johannesburg, one of South Africa’s leading higher education institutions.


A woman with remarkable vision and commitment to Impact Investing in under-served-under-resourced areas of South Africa, Terhune believes in “leveraging with intention” through an ever-expanding network of like-minded companies and individuals. Three women influencers were the first to kick-start the ground-breaking. As a testament to her belief in Impact Investing, 225+ companies, suppliers, service providers, consultants, contractors, and professionals embraced Deborah’s bold mission, donating in-kind materials and services - proving that CASH is just one of many resources that can be used purposefully to satisfy human needs.


Deborah Terhune was inspired by the work of philanthropist, Andrew Carnegie, and by the readings of Maimonides, the twelfth-century Jewish philosopher who taught that the highest form of tzedakah (a Hebrew word meaning giving or charity) was to help a fellow Jew to become self-sufficient. Similarly, Andrew Carnegie concluded that the best way to use his wealth was to build libraries and universities, providing the ladders upon which the aspiring can rise. Both Carnegie and Maimonides had a lasting impact on Terhune’s belief in “giving while living.” She is certain that the R110 Million Rand Education Campus Project will become a case study for Impact Investing, and she hopes that others will join her in future collaborations.

What Our Partners Say

'Deborah Terhune, the founder of Growing Up Africa, has enough energy and enthusiasm to keep the world spinning for another 100 years.'

William Reue

Principal, William Reue Architecture, New York City

Design Architect for the SOWETO Education Campus


'When I think of Deborah Terhune and the people who support Growing Up Africa, I think of a quotation from Aristotle from 2300 years ago – The only true success in life is to find yourself in service to society.'

Mitzi Purdue


'We at SMEC are committed to continue our support for Growing Up Africa initiatives and particularly the Devland project.'

Kostas Rontiniris

CEO of SMEC South Africa



'The workers have also contributed immensely to the project.  In turn, they have learned new skills and even leadership as they work together as a team alongside the students.  Their experience can also translate to future employment prospects.'

Barry Beagen

Diller Scafido & Renfro


'Through our involvement with Growing Up Africa, we have been able to magnify the positive impact of our design work.   It’s truly gratifying to know that the Devland project will be a much-needed resource for an entire community.   In the end, it’s all about the self-empowerment gained through education.' 

William Reue

Principal, William Reue Architecture, New York City

Design Architect for the Devland SOWETO Education Campus


'Growing Up Africa’s project-specific focus allows one’s charitable giving to make a huge, direct impact in changing people’s lives.   It takes the dedication of a leader like Deborah Terhune to bring these important community-building projects to fruition.  We are gratified to support GUA’s efforts.'

Robert Kaner

Principal, Robert Kaner Interior Design NYC


'What Growing Up Africa has done is so wonderful.  It is encouraging us, as teachers, to come and work each and every day.  When I finished my matric, I was lost.  I didn’t have anywhere to go.  But I found Happy Homes and Happy Homes found us.  So, because of Growing Up Africa, I have more energy to come here and work.  And when I wake up in the morning, I know that I am going to work.'

Oupa Mapuza

Venda University Graduate



'The reality is that we are living in a country that has a history of inequality, and I believe that, if we are going to level the playing field, this is going to be done through education.  What makes this project unique is the international elements of it.  We’ve got 28 students from Cornell coming from 17 countries, so the blending of cultures will integrate with the community of Cosmo City.'

Zandilla Manana

MassBuild Executive


'We make the structure work!'

Effort Mokoena

Principal Structural Engineer

Zanecebo Consulting



'The mayor’s visit gave the project a very high endorsement, which is rare.  He was very impressed that we were using local building technologies such as the earth-bag system developed in Cape Town.  In his speech, he aligned our project with the city’s overall vision for livable cities and resource sustainability.'

Barry Beagen

Diller Scafido & Renfro

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