Educational Institutions


The US foundation mobilizing support for Ashesi University in Ghana

aka Ashesi   |   Seattle, WA   |


Ashesi University is a private, non-profit liberal arts university located in Accra, Ghana. Our mission is to educate a new generation of ethical, entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, the concern for others, and the courage it will take to transform their continent. Ashesi University Foundation, based in Seattle, WA, connects a global community of friends and donors to Ashesi University in Ghana.

Ruling year info


Founder and President

Patrick Awuah

Main address

1601 5th Avenue Suite 1100

Seattle, WA 98101 USA

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Cause area (NTEE code) info

Undergraduate College (4-year) (B42)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

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Programs and results

What we aim to solve

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Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Ashesi University Curriculum

Since 2002, Ashesi has offered young Africans a high-quality, 4-year education on their home continent that fosters ethics, innovation, and entrepreneurship in a diverse community. Our 1,173 students and 1,300 graduates have earned a reputation for integrity, an entrepreneurial mindset, and exceptional professional skills. Ashesi combines a rigorous liberal arts core with degree programs in Computer Science, Business Administration, Management Information Systems, and Engineering. A student-led honor code, integrated community service, diverse internships, and real-world projects prepare students to develop innovative solutions for local challenges. Ashesi is also a growing hub for global collaborations, education exchanges, and entrepreneurial ventures, and is a leading influencer in Africa’s higher ed landscape. To achieve a diverse socioeconomic mix in its student body, Ashesi offers financial aid to nearly half of our students.

Population(s) Served

Where we work

Charting impact

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Five powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

What is the organization aiming to accomplish?

Ashesi's mission is to train a new generation of ethical and entrepreneurial leaders in Africa; to cultivate within our students the critical thinking skills, concern for others and courage it will take to transform a continent. We seek to begin a movement to improve the quality of education in Africa. We founded a new type of rigorous African university: one designed to empower young Africans with the entrepreneurial skills and ethical foresight to be agents of change in their communities. To address the deepest factors behind Africa's lack of economic progress -- the corruption endemic in the region, and dismal employment opportunities for the rapidly increasing African youth population -- Patrick Awuah, Ashesi's Founder and President developed an innovative curriculum to nurture ethics and instill a can-do, problem-solving attitude. Ashesi's curriculum combines a strong liberal arts core with practical majors in Business Administration, Computer Science, Engineering, and Management Information Systems, and a 4-year focus on ethical leadership development. The core curriculum teaches students to think critically and be problem solvers. Students explore the connections between fields of knowledge, to separate relevant information from the irrelevant, to question assumptions, and to reflect on the views of other people. The curriculum as a whole fosters a culture of ethics and concern for others. Ashesi's rigorous Honor Code, community service requirement, and intensive 4-year leadership seminar series weave ethics into all aspects of learning.

We believe that transformational education for home grown leadership needs to be available to students from diverse economic, ethnic, religious and national groups. We work hard to make this happen. Ashesi students come from 15 countries across Africa. Women make up 48% of students and 43% of students receive need-based financial aid. Ashesi's major innovation is our curriculum, which is based on best practices from some of the top universities in the world but is designed to address the needs in an African context. Our curriculum places a great emphasis on applied learning, ethics, and entrepreneurship. Key elements of the Ashesi education include: • A liberal arts core program that nurtures critical thinking & communications skills and encourages students to apply theory to practice through class projects and internships • A community service program that ensures students get involved in developing solutions to problems in their communities • A 4-year leadership seminar series asks students to engage issues of ethics, rule of law, wealth distribution and good governance in Africa • A student honor code which requires students to be responsible for their own ethical behavior, and for reporting incidents of academic misconduct during examinations • Internships at top companies in Ghana allow students to learn about local career opportunities, resulting in a very high local employment rate after graduation • Senior projects encourage entrepreneurship among students by challenging them to create business plans, conduct meaningful research, or develop new products that will improve society Ashesi University's academic program enables students not only to develop technical excellence in their professional fields but also to gain a deep sense of civic responsibility and a breadth of vision that enables them to navigate and lead in a changing world.

Ashesi has developed important relationships with other international organizations, adding local expertise to international best practices. Some examples: • In 2002, Ashesi entered a ten-year $13 million partnership with The MasterCard Foundation. In 2016, The MasterCard Foundation renewed this partnership with an additional $25.5 million commitment. This partnership will empower us to recruit and award financial aid to bright students from across Africa. • General Electric added Ashesi to its elite group of Executive Schools, which includes MIT and Cornell University. GE plans to recruit heavily from Ashesi and partner on the curriculum. • Our curriculum was designed in collaboration with faculty at Swarthmore College, University of California at Berkeley, and the University of Washington. • The University's business plan was devised through a partnership with the Clausen Center at the University of California, Berkeley. • A robotics course was developed in collaboration with faculty and graduate students at Carnegie Mellon University. • The Fulbright program has sent faculty from the US to strengthen and plan the expansion of academic life at Ashesi. • Ashesi partnered with the Institute of Development Studies (IDS) to co-develop a teaching workshop on social science research. The skills taught will empower African researchers to design research of publishable quality and to successfully design and apply for funding for research critical to determining local needs. The program was open to researchers from Ghana's private and public universities and was so successful, IDS is seeking funding to host it across Africa. • Nokia chose Ashesi University to launch a new course for university students to develop mobile phone applications for use in emerging markets such as Africa. The new course was created in partnership with EPROM (Entrepreneurial Programming and Research on Mobiles). • Swarthmore College and Ashesi co-developed classes on the African diaspora. • Wilfrid Laurier University and Ashesi offer joint classes in Human Rights and Development. • An international study abroad program was created in collaboration with New York University, Babson College, Ohio State University, Coe College and The Council for International Education Exchange. • An African dance and music course was created in collaboration with the Noyam Institute in Accra. As Ashesi grows, we expect these local and international interactions to play an even greater role in the Ashesi experience.

Ashesi measures its impact by tracking the number of students who successfully find job placement after graduation. We also track the number of students who decide to stay and work in Africa. Employer feedback is also a very important indicator of our progress. Since our first pioneering class of 30 students in 2002, Ashesi has grown in size, reputation, and influence. Here are a few indicators of our impact. • 1,173 students currently enrolled. • 43% of students receive financial aid. • More women leaders: 48% of students are women, up from 27% in 2002. Ashesi elected Africa's first woman student government leader, and women hold many Ashesi governance positions, including our Provost. • International reach: Students come from 28 African countries. Each year, Ashesi hosts students from the US through exchange partnerships with US institutions. • The collective Ashesi curriculum and experience results in an average of 94% of alumni finding placement in careers, graduate school, or starting businesses within six months of starting their search — and 90% choose to stay and work for progress in Africa. Hiring firms include Africa's largest, most innovative and respected regional businesses, the African offices of global corporations, and top microfinance, NGOs, think tanks and non-profit institutions: Ecobank, Google, World Bank, Goldman Sachs and more. Milestones in Ethics and Service • Honor Code: In January 2008, after months of debate, students voted to institute Africa's first student-accountability honor code. 100% of students now sign an honor pledge to not cheat before and after completing exams and commit to reporting any violations. • Corporate Ghana rated Ashesi grads significantly higher than their peers in ethics, communications, and professional skills.* (Study by UC Berkeley). • Students have partnered with over many NGOs to perform in-depth required community service projects, or have launched their own service initiatives. • An Ashesi national conference on ethics was attended by over 100 people, including the press, educators, business leaders and faculty and students from other Ghanaian universities Measures of financial stability & donor impacts We balance financial stability with a commitment to scholarships for poor students. Through efficient operations, Ashesi provides a world-class education while controlling costs. Donations, instead of funding ongoing operations, are used for additional scholarships, new programs, and new facilities. Measures of African support & pride • Ashesi University has been named the 7th Most Respected Company in Ghana, and Patrick Awuah the 4th Most Respected CEO in the 2012 PricewaterhouseCoopers/Business and Financial Times. • Many Ashesi graduates donate to Ashesi and African business leaders have donated over $1,000,000 to Ashesi.

Over the past 17 years, Ashesi has established a reputation as a leader in undergraduate education in Africa, with an educational experience that fosters ethical leadership, an entrepreneurial mindset and the ability to solve complex problems. These qualities are what set Ashesi alumni apart. At the heart of the Ashesi experience is our inclusive campus culture. Students come from 28 African countries to learn, live and innovate together. 48% are women, and 43% come from disadvantaged backgrounds. On campus, students join with faculty and leadership to engage in discussion, civic action, and connection under a shared mission to transform the African continent. Now we are working to extend the Ashesi education to more young Africans by growing to 1,200 students—while maintaining and strengthening this unique campus culture. To serve more students, we must continue to expand our facilities and strengthen our scholarship program. To provide students with the highest-quality education, we must invest in faculty development. And to help scale Ashesi’s model, we must expand our idea-sharing platform, The Education Collaborative. Launched in 2017, the Collaborative brings together African university leaders and stakeholders to collaborate on best practices in teaching, management and administration.



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The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


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Connect with nonprofit leaders


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Board of directors
as of 9/30/2019
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Emer Dooley

University of Washington

Yaw Asare-Aboagye

BioMarin Pharmaceutical Inc.

Patrick Nutor

Accu-Computers Ltd.

Neil Collins

The Carlyle Group

Todd Warren

Microsoft Corporation

Patrick Awuah

Ashesi University Foundation and Ashesi University College

Nina Marini

Microsoft Corporation

Aprile Age

McNulty Foundation

Peter Koelle

International Moscow Bank

Scott Kucirek

Five Star Organics LLC

Ruth Warren

Microsoft Corporation

Conrad Gehrmann

Filament, LLC

Emer Dooley

University of Washington

Lisa Norton

Law Office of Lisa Norton PLLC

Reggie Brown

All Property Management

Daniel Runde

Center for Strategic and International Studies

Rich Lyons

University of California, Berkeley

Elizabeth Masiyiwa

Higherlife Foundation

Peggy Clark

Aspen Institute

Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? No
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Yes
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? No


international, education, ghana, africa, development, business, computer science, liberal arts, engineering, ethics, leadership