History

The school is built out of the USAP program, which has been assisting high-achieving, low-income students to access university education internationally since it was first started as an initiative of EducationUSA nearly 20 years ago. Rebecca Zeigler Mano founded USAP in Zimbabwe at the end of 1999 in response to her strong belief that there are many determined, talented and economically disadvantaged students who lack only financial resources and access to information to better their educational futures.

Over the years, USAP students have consistently been selected for four key criteria: academic excellence, demonstrated leadership potential, an ethos of giving, and economic disadvantage. In the twenty years since the program started, over 400 Zimbabwean USAP students have excelled as students at America’s top colleges and universities. USAP students continue to excel in impressive measure, including recent alums named as Gates Cambridge and Rhodes Scholars, earning MBA, MD and PhD degrees and starting successful entrepreneurial initiatives on the ground in Africa. The program’s success led to it being replicated in EducationUSA offices internationally on three continents.

In January 2016, USAP left the Embassy and found a new home at Education Matters, a non profit college access organization. Though based in Zimbabwe, USAP has also worked with smaller cohorts in Malawi, Uganda and Zambia in addition to continuing to support the long-standing USAP Mongolia. At Education Matters, the USAP model evolved to work more intensively with students through a year-long program of residential “bootcamps” during school holidays, designed to empower and assist them throughout the application and orientation process. The first USAP cohort in Education Matters started studies in 2017 with over $5.8 million in scholarships, and following cohorts have had similar success, with students earning approximately $93 in foreign scholarships for every $1 invested in USAP program operating costs.

As our college access, vacation-based USAP program evolved, we realized that our students, though bright and determined, had some gaps in their learning and experiences. Although they excel in Ordinary and Advanced level exams, their reading, writing, computer and critical thinking skills need improvement and they do not have the opportunities to apply their learning or engage in research. That started us thinking about a school that would deliver a holistic education to adequately prepare them to hit the ground running as they integrate into global higher learning institutions, to tackle the complex problems of our society, and to exponentially increase their impact in our communities. Joining Rebecca in building this vision were Collence Nyazenga, a USAP alum and Education Matters counselor, and James Linville, former head of Abaarso School in Somaliland. With the three of them drawing ideas and support from a strong team of faculty, a dedicated Board of Trustees, and many longtime friends and supporters of USAP, the USAP Community School was born, and opened its doors in January 2020.

For more about what happens at USAP Community School, please see our Curriculum and Extracurriculars pages.