Our Story

The beautiful country of Rwanda, known as “The Land of a Thousand Hills,” is a vibrant, resilient, and inspiring nation that is working tirelessly to develop a new legacy and create a new path for future generations. 

No longer is Rwanda a country associated primarily with its tragic past. It is becoming known as a place of hope, reconciliation, and vision. The transformation of education is critical to this process, and to ensuring a bright and secure future for Rwanda’s children. 

The belief that this kind of transformation is truly possible is where our story begins.

2004
2005
2007

THE ACADEMY OPENS ITS DOORS

The Wellspring Academy was officially opened in 2007. Since then, the school, which has been Rwandan-run and fully sustainable from the beginning, has equipped over 700 students for the future with an exceptional internationally-accredited education, and has been recognized as one of the best schools in Rwanda’s capital, Kigali. Today, Wellspring is honoured to provide technical support to the school and also be represented on its Advisory Board.
2008

MOVING BEYOND ONE SCHOOL

The Wellspring Academy was our starting point—a place that allowed us to see our vision for quality education realized, and that gave us great hope for what was possible in schools across Rwanda. As we travelled through the country, we encountered hundreds of public schools that needed the seeds of transformation being planted at the Wellspring Academy. Our vision was growing, and so were the opportunities to expand and deepen our impact.

DEVELOPING A UNIQUE APPROACH

The approach we developed in these early years—which focused on 

equipping not only teachers and leaders, but also parents and communities—became our signature School Development Program (SDP). In partnership with a global expert who volunteered her time and expertise, a small-scale pilot of the SDP began in 2008, first in 3 privately-run schools and then in 7 public schools. This pilot project allowed us to begin meaningfully addressing the quality of teaching and learning in the country’s public schools. From the start, as our team of local Rwandan educators walked alongside teachers and leaders, coaching, mentoring, and measuring progress, we focused on sustainability and culture change in each school, ensuring that the positive change experienced would last.

2010

LEARNING AND SHARING

As our work continued, we began to see the opportunity for partnership and meaningful connection with other non-profit organizations working in the sphere of education in Rwanda. Wellspring is committed to being an organization that learns from others and shares with others, and so in 2010 we played a key role in establishing the Rwanda Education NGO Coordination Platform (RENCP). RENCP was formed to serve as a representative body for NGOs and to facilitate information sharing and coordination among its members in Rwanda. Today it has 96+ member organizations working together to see education transformed at a national level.

THE LAKE2LAKE RIDE FOR RWANDA

In North America, our community of partners was continuing to grow, and new initiatives were being developed to raise the resources needed to make our work possible. In 2010, a group of supporters who had been participating in the Seattle to Portland bike ride for several years organized a local ride in BC to raise funds for Wellspring … and the Lake2Lake Ride for Rwanda was launched! Since 2010, hundreds of riders have raised hundreds of thousands of dollars through the Lake2Lake Ride to support quality education in Rwanda.
2011

EXPANDING INTO AN ENTIRE DISTRICT

In Rwanda, the small-scale pilot of our School Development Program was resulting in significant transformation and tangible outcomes for the schools involved, and this did not go unnoticed. The quality education being provided at the Wellspring Academy was now a reality for children in several public schools too, and so there was no question that Wellspring’s holistic and people-centered approach was both effective and sustainable. In 2011, the Rwandan government granted Wellspring the incredible privilege of implementing our School Development Program in all 48 public schools of the Gasabo District. This was a remarkable milestone in Wellspring’s journey, and ultimately in the trajectory of each Gasabo school. Just a couple of years after our district-wide work began, Gasabo was officially recognized as one of the top-performing school districts in Rwanda! Today, our continuing work in this district impacts over 81,000 students, 1,600 teachers, as well as their leaders, parents, and wider communities.

THE WELLSPRING GALA

Through the generosity of partners, in 2011 we had the opportunity to share our story and vision with a larger group than ever before at our first Wellspring Gala. In the years since, our annual Vancouver Gala has become our largest fundraising event, and has welcomed hundreds of new supporters into the Wellspring community.
2013
2014

CASTING A VISION FOR QUALITY EDUCATION

By 2014 Wellspring’s vision was clearly articulated and our work in Gasabo was well underway. For the change being experienced in schools and communities to be sustainable, however, it was important to engage everyone involved in education, and to create contexts in which people’s voices and perspectives could be shared. To that end, in March 2014, we hosted a Gasabo Education Vision Day, where teachers, parents, school leaders, educational officers, and politicians gathered to discuss their hopes and dreams for Gasabo’s future, to celebrate the success already experienced in the district, and to encourage each other in their roles.

Later that year, our focus on partnership also led to a deepening engagement with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI), and we were honoured to host ACSI’s two day Rwanda Summit, where we joined with other educators to learn more about the development of a quality Christian values-based education in the African context.

MEASURING TRANSFORMATION

2014 was Wellspring’s 10th anniversary, and there was much to celebrate. We were especially excited to share the outstanding results of a report compiled in partnership with the Canadian International Development Agency (CIDA had provided funding to Wellspring in previous years). This comprehensive study of all 48 Gasabo schools established just how effective our School Development Program had been across the district, and demonstrated that it is possible to significantly improve learning outcomes and participation for children through a holistic people-centered approach. 82% of the schools had already made measurable progress since the beginning of our program, and significant improvement was noted in many areas, including exam results, dropout rates, primary to secondary transition rates, teacher performance, leader confidence, and parent engagement.

RACHEL’S RIDE FOR RWANDA

With each passing year, the efforts and enthusiasm of our partner community in North America and beyond has continued to amaze us. In 2014, we were particularly excited to see a group of BC kids take to the bike trails to help children in Rwanda receive a fantastic education. Initiated by 11 year old Rachel Fitz, who had lived in Rwanda with her family and wanted to make a difference in the lives of those she had met there, Rachel’s Ride for Rwanda became an annual event that raised over $90,000 for Wellspring’s work in just 5 years!
2015

INVESTING IN ABUNDANT LEADERSHIP

As our work continued, it became increasingly evident that so much relies on leadership. When leaders become agents of change in their schools and their country, lasting change is possible. In 2015, our dreams of building more deeply into some of the brightest and best educational leaders in Rwanda came to fruition with the launch of our Abundant Leadership Institute (ALI). With a vision to see education in Central Africa transformed through empowered leadership, the ALI was designed to equip passionate leaders with the skills they need to become catalysts for positive change. As the first cohort of 15 students began their training in August 2015, the story of ALI began, and continues to make an incredible impact today.

BEGINNING A NEW JOURNEY

2015 was a year of new beginnings, and one particularly exciting development involved the 

opportunity to expand our work into a whole new region of Rwanda. We embarked on a partnership with the Association of Baptist Churches in Rwanda (AEBR), which saw us provide support to 22 AEBR-run schools in Rwanda’s Western Province. We ran training modules that equipped leaders and teachers in these schools with the tools to provide quality education for their students. This partnership was the beginning of Wellspring’s involvement in the Western Province, and the start of a journey that now sees our work impacting thousands of children in one particular district: Rubavu.

JUSTUS

As an organization that is passionate about seeing lives changed through education both in Africa and North America, we are also committed to equipping young people with a global perspective and a Biblical understanding of issues such as poverty and social justice. It was therefore our privilege in 2015 to partner with an organization that shares this passion—The Elevation Project (a program of Greater Vancouver Youth Unlimited)—to launch JustUs. This program teaches God’s heart for justice and equips an emerging generation to make a meaningful difference in the world.
2016

CELEBRATING THE ACADEMY’S FIRST GRADUATES

It was with great joy that we celebrated the Wellspring Academy’s first graduating class in 2016. These students had been part of the Academy’s story for their entire school career and grew up with the type of Christian values-based quality education that so many had dreamed of. As these students, and those who have graduated since, have entered the post-secondary and working world, we have been continually inspired by their dedication, hard-working spirit, and passion for change.

CONTRIBUTING TO RWANDA’S NEW CURRICULUM

One school led us into an entire school district, and from there our opportunities to impact the broader educational lanscape in Rwanda continued to grow. While working at a grassroots level in Rwandan schools, we have also been privileged to partner with the Rwandan government in seeing systemic change through policy and curriculum development. In 2016, Rwanda’s new Competence Based Curriculum, which Wellspring played a key role in developing, was officially launched. The Gasabo district has experienced great success in the implementation of this new curriculum, and Wellspring’s training has been identified as a key reason for this success. As teachers in Gasabo have been equipped to create learning environments that focus on engaging learners, they have already begun to implement the approaches that the curriculum promotes.
2017

EXPANDING ACROSS RUBAVU

Following its launch in 2015, our work in 22 Western Province schools was resulting in significant change. After seeing the initial success of our work in four of these schools in the Rubavu district, the Mayor of Rubavu reached out, asking Wellspring to become the main education partner in 75 Rubavu schools. We were honoured and humbled to be welcomed so warmly into Rubavu, and so in 2017, we began to roll out our School Development Program across all 75 schools. Children in Rubavu have hopes and dreams for their future, and are filled with potential, but deep-seated issues in the region create huge barriers to seeing these children receive the education they deserve. Our SDP works to ensure that teachers, leaders, and parents are empowered with the tools they need to overcome these challenges and lead Rubavu into a brighter future.

DEVELOPING CHRISTIAN EDUCATION IN RWANDA & BEYOND

With every passing year, partnerships have become increasingly key to fulfilling our vision of being a catalyst for transforming education. Our relationship with the Association of Christian Schools International (ACSI) provided a very meaningful opportunity to engage in the continued development of education when we were invited to lead the Rwandan pilot of ACSI’s Paths to School Improvement (PSI) program. The PSI articulates clear and relevant standards and indicators for what authentic Christian schooling should look like, and based on the success of this program, we have extended our partnership with ACSI to be a base for the spreading of the PSI across Africa, as well as developing the Association of Christian Schools in Rwanda. 

LAUNCHING VISION 2020

In 2017 we also gave thanks to God for the fulfilment of the plans we had laid out in our Vision 2017 document, and for the difference that each initiative, project, and partnership was making in the lives of the hundreds of thousands of children we serve. Our leadership in both continents then set to work on our Vision 2020 document, which is now our current roadmap for the future and helps us keep our eyes on the work we have been called to and the mission that propels us.
2018
2019
The Future

15 years on, we continue to marvel at how God took the passion of two young men, the vision of His people in Rwanda, and the dedication of partners on the other side of the world, and wove together a story that is now impacting hundreds of thousands of lives. As we look to the future, it is with great anticipation and excitement for the lives that will be changed as quality education continues to take hold, in Rwanda and beyond.

The Future

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