Jacob Lief was only 21-years-old when he first visited the townships of Port Elizabeth, South Africa. It was 1998 and the country was transitioning out of apartheid. With a college degree in his back pocket, Jacob cultivated a team of other inspired individuals and together they founded Ubuntu Education Fund with the hope of giving Port Elizabeth’s youth a more promising future.
Jacob’s founding story is one of grit, perseverance, and personal development. His journey of growing Ubuntu into a world-renowned leader in education is marked with many monumental challenges and milestones—including a pivot that completely changed the organization’s funding model, seven years into its operations.
Today, Jacob is a celebrated thought leader with a contagious vision for a better philanthropic sector—one that allows nonprofits to dream big and execute beyond the traditional walls of restricted funding and antiquated benchmarks of success.
In this episode, Jacob shares:
- What it was like to turn down seven-figure funding from USAID
- Key facets of the Ubuntu internal culture and how that culture has kept his core executive team together for 13 years
- His personal growth as a CEO
- Why he thinks culture is the most dangerous word in English dictionary
- The mentor who pushed him to take care of himself first
Resources Jacob mentioned in the episode:
Subscribe to the Classy Blog
Get the latest fundraising tips, trends, and ideas in your inbox.
Thank you for subscribing
You signed up for emails from Classy
The email you subscribed is