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Africa’s Biggest Classroom, Ubongo, gets $27.8 million from the Lego Foundation Global Challenge


The Lego Foundation’s global Build a World of Play Challenge selected Ubongo, Africa’s top producer and creator of children’s educational media, as one of five recipients to receive funding for audacious, meaningful early childhood solutions.

A total of DKK 900 million (about US$ 117 million) will be given by the LEGO Foundation to organizations that significantly improve the lives of children from birth to age six and spur a global movement to prioritize early childhood development. Akili Family, an Ubongo project, has received $27.8 million.

Over 31 million families in 23 African countries receive specialized learning resources from Ubongo via TV, radio, digital, and mobile. Ubongo intends to expand its Akili Family program to reach more kids and their caregivers at home using play-based early learning materials. In an endeavor to create a “Africa of Play,” Akili Family combines pre-primary “edutainment” with caregiver support materials.

The LEGO Foundation introduced the Build a World of Play Challenge on February 16, 2022, to address the COVID-19 pandemic-exacerbated global early childhood emergency, which is characterized by a lack of access to quality services and supports throughout the crucial early years of a child’s development.

In the 90th year of the LEGO® brand, the awards confirm the LEGO Foundation’s dedication to ensuring that children everywhere have the chance to reach their full potential through play-based learning.

“African children have the power to change the way we see the world. Millions more children will have the chance to grow up with African learning experiences that are created for them and with them thanks to this opportunity.

As they learn about the world and themselves and develop into lifelong learners, their parents and other caregivers will also be inspired and motivated to support them.

Given the catalytic effect of the assistance from the LEGO Foundation, Iman Lipumba, Ubongo’s Director of Communications and Development, expressed excitement to see what the continent and the world will look like in 20 years.

Ten finalists were chosen from a total of 627 legitimate concepts that were submitted to the Challenge from 86 different nations. Four criteria were used by multidisciplinary experts from around the world to evaluate applications: impact, viability, community focus, and sustainability.

The grants presented today will aid in advancing a number of audacious initiatives that support the wellbeing of kids, their caregivers, and their communities by employing sustainable and culturally relevant methods.

We are uniquely qualified to “create an Africa of play” since we are a major actor at the forefront of early learning and development in Africa, in addition to the fact that Ubongo’s characters are the best friends and instructors of African children. We work closely with children to co-create information that they can relate to and understand, said Ms. Lipumba.

By 2028, Ubongo will create an ecosystem of collaborators to offer play-based early learning resources in more than 20 regional languages to more than 65 million families in 49 different countries.

Children’s cognitive, social, and emotional skills will be enhanced by Akili Family, and caregivers will be given the tools they need to promote learning through play as well as a greater appreciation for it.

As part of the LEGO brand’s 90th anniversary, the LEGO Foundation made a promise to help build a better world for young children to thrive,” stated Thomas Kirk Kristiansen, Chairman of the LEGO Foundation Board of Directors.

The goal of the Build a World of Play Challenge is to achieve just that by supporting creative initiatives that positively impact global childhood development and offer young children a head start in life. Congratulations to all of the winners, who have all shown innovative solutions. We are eager to collaborate with them as long-term partners in order to invest in the futures of children.

To oversee the Challenge procedure, the LEGO Foundation collaborated with Lever for Change, a nonprofit partner of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

In order to address the world’s most pressing concerns, such as racial injustice, gender inequality, access to economic opportunity, and climate change, Lever for Change connects donors with innovative solutions.



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