November 18, 2011

Vote for AGYA & Help Us Win a Share of Over $3 million From Chase Community Giving!

Chase Community Giving

Just click on the link above to cast your vote for AGYA International! We want to secure 1,500 votes by Tuesday 22 November.

AGYA Presents "Where We Work" Video

The latest AGYA video features images of the community where we work. Much of the footage was shot by AGYA Youth Leader Happy Namutebi. Enjoy!

October 31, 2011

AGYA Selected as 2011 Grant Recipient by UN-Habitat Youth Fund

Following informal announcements on Facebook & Twitter last month, AGYA is excited to officially announce that we were selected as a recipient of a grant from the UN-Habitat Youth Fund. With the resources from the grant, AGYA will implement "Reel Talk: Confronting Global Gender Disparities Through Digital Media." Under the leadership of AGYA Executive Director Divinity Matovu and AGYA Girls Program Director Happy Namutebi, "Reel Talk" is a 12-month project that will train 48 teen girls to use film, digital media and photography as a platform to provide girls ages 15-20 with the training, artistic license and communication skills to transform attitudes and behaviors about critical gender issues among disadvantaged youth living in urban poverty in Kampala. After completing the training, the girls will film and edit their own short films that will educate 10,000 youth who will see the films in live screenings at select sites in Uganda and online via YouTube, Blogger, Facebook and Twitter.

October 28, 2011

AGYA To Collaborate with Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (JUiCE) on International Artist Exchange

AGYA is proud to announce that we are partnering with Justice by Uniting in Creative Energy (JUiCE) on an international hip-hop artist exchange project that will bring Los Angeles-based MC and Hellfyre Club recording artist, Open Mike Eagle and Los Angeles-based beatmaker and Brainfeeder artist, Ras G, to work with Ugandan rapper Mon MC, youth artists, and other local musicians in Uganda for three weeks during summer 2012.

J.U.i.C.E. is a Los Angeles-based a non-profit hip-hop organization that encourages the creative expression and self-empowerment of all people through skill-building in the music, visual art, and dance of the hip-hop culture.

The project idea was born in 2010 when AGYA Executive Director, Divinity Matovu connected with JUiCE Co-Executive Director Daniel Rizik-Baer, who provided advice and guidance during the curriculum planning phase of "Recording Our Dreams," an AGYA project that is currently training youth on music production and recording with a focus on hip-hop. Learn more about "Recording Our Dreams" here.

September 9, 2011

AGYA Youth Featured in Documentary Film: Drinking From The Well

Film Synopsis: Drinking from the Well captures the real lives of Ugandan youth struggling to create a positive future in an environment that tests every ability to survive.  Nabulagala, the Kampala slum where they live, is populated with broken lives, crumbling homes, and bleak prospects. The sun’s heat suppresses emotion.  Dust from the red clay cakes every surface.  Malaria-carrying mosquitoes jab at unprotected skin.  Homemade alcohol, glue, and other drugs, substances that offer a brief reprieve from the misery, have turned people into empty shells that occupy the shadows of this slum. Day in and day out, the next generation of Kampalans must surmount these obstacles in order to begin thinking, dreaming and hoping about the future.  Somehow, Happy, Shamirah, B-Start, Kenny and Jajanelly, have done much more than this.  Under the umbrella of the Amagezi Gemaanyi Youth Association (AGYA), a community center where they live, these five have united to push against the odds and forge a future rich with possibility.

The film's anticipated release date is Summer 2012. Check out the trailer here and visit DFTW's Facebook Page!

Drinking From The Well Trailer from One Hand Clapping Pictures on Vimeo.

July 17, 2011

AGYA Conducts Outreach on Lingira Island

 By: Kenny Mulinde

With a population of about 600 people, Lingira is one of Uganda’s largest islands on Lake Victoria. The most dominant economic activity on the island is fishing. The people depend on fishing for sustenance and to generate revenue because farming is not very viable due to rocky, infertile soil. According to a Lingira health advocate, the rate of HIV/AIDS on the islands is a staggering 80%. That is, of every 10 people, 8 are HIV positive. Other diseases like malaria are also prevalent. There is only one school and one health facility on Lingira Island, and people from neighboring islands also come to these facilities to learn and get medical treatment. Youth and children make up about 60% of the island’s population.  Only 20% of the youth attend school; nearly 40 % spend the majority of their time fishing to support their families.

Lingira island is associated with high rates of illiteracy, wide spread poverty and limited social and economic resources due to inaccessibility and isolation.

July 5, 2011

AGYA Reaches Out To Grandmothers In Kangurumira Village

By: Kenny Mulinde

In May 2011, Amy and Patricia of Grandmothers Beyond Borders introduced AGYA to a local Grandmother’s Union operating in the village of Kangurumira in Jinja District. Personally, I think it is a very big challenge for us as young people to realize the need and importance of interacting with the elderly. In most cases, we think we know everything and also tend to ignore and abandon the teachings and guidance of our grandparents. Yet, these special people have the knowledge and guidance we need as young people to grow into responsible citizens.

AGYA Country Director Abraham Matovu (pictured here with one of the grandmothers) described the elderly as society’s living library that has all the knowledge of life skills and experiences.

After a positive and inspiring meeting with the members of the Kangurumira Grandmothers Association (KGA), AGYA youth realized the need for young people to work closely with grandmothers if we are to create change. We also determined to exchange ideas and knowledge in order to bridge the gap between the young people and the elderly.

July 1, 2011

Reflections of a Volunteer Alumni: How AGYA Shaped & Prepared Me For My Job With Teach For America

By: Marianna Singwi-Ferrono

During the summer of 2009, I spent a month living, teaching, and volunteering at AGYA along with seven other students from the University of Southern California.  Founded by Nicolette Omoile in 2008-9, Rise of African Youth through Self-Empowerment (RAYSE) is the first USC recognized student-organization to send students to Africa. RAYSE is dedicated to educating, empowering, and enriching the lives of the women and youth in Uganda and eventually all of Africa. We envision RAYSE to be the umbrella organization of numerous student organizations interested in raising awareness about the African continent. In order to realize our vision, RAYSE volunteers with AGYA during our annual service-learning “Alternative Summer Break: Uganda” (ASB) student trip. During the first trip in 2009, RAYSE collectively taught computer literacy, world cultures, music/songwriting, film production, theater games, art and dance, volunteered at  Nabulagala Good Hope Primary School and learned basic Luganda.  

Now in 2011, eight USC students are preparing to leave for the 3rd annual RAYSE “Alternative Summer Break: Uganda”.  These creative young leaders will be teaching classes such as story-telling, film  and music production, entrepreneurship and dance.  This year, RAYSE was also invited to the Clinton Global Initiative University leadership conference and we will be spearheading a sustainable sex-education and health program at AGYA.  RAYSE has grown immensely alongside AGYA since Nicolette, RAYSE’s founder, and Divinity, AGYA’s co-founder, tossed around ideas about developing the first USC trip to Africa. RAYSE has now sent about twenty-five students to volunteer with AGYA and all eight 2010 participants became active, passionate members of RAYSE’s Executive board upon their return from their inspiring trip to Uganda.  As RAYSE’s current President, previous 2010 Co-President and 2009 Fundraising director, I am proud of the progress this pioneering student organization has made.

May 24, 2011

AGYA Debuts New Logo & Website

By: Carolyn Keene

Each semester the Brand Workshop; a student design firm at the Cal State University: Long Beach, takes on 4-5 different clients whom it works with to help them with their branding and graphic design goals. These goals could be anything from a logo redesign, to a fully developed packaging system. The workshop class is special in that it brings together graphic design students from all different classes to work together. We have a range of ages as well as a range of skills; from students with web proficiency, to those with a great eye for logo design. Under the direction of professor Sunook Park, all of these students are mentored and are able to combine their skills in small teams to turn out some amazing and fresh results for both small-scale and large-scale clients.

This semester I, Carolyn Keene (Graphic Design BFA), and my team of 4 others, Chrissy Song (Interior Design BFA, Graphic Design BA), J Diaz (Graphic Design BFA), Remo Colindres Jr. (Graphic Design BA), and Ro Oeurn (Graphic Design BFA) had the privilege of working with Divinity and AGYA.

Above: AGYA Co-Founders Divinity & Abraham with Professor Sunook Park and the CSULB students who worked on AGYA's project. 

May 20, 2011

Administrative Internship With AGYA (June 5 Deadline)

AGYA is in need of an Administrative Intern who can commit 12 hours per week for a period of 10 weeks beginning June 13, ending August 19. This is an unpaid internship.

The Administrative Intern will work on projects related to AGYA's four Core Programs: Free Lunch Program, Girls Program, After-School Program, and International Volunteer Program.

• Passionate about the youth role in global social change
• Excellent English grammar skills
• Excellent writing and research skills
• Outgoing and self-motivated
• Must be able to work independently to achieve measurable goals
• Knowledge of Microsoft Office and/or Mac OS

• Letter of Recommendation from AGYA's Executive Director upon successful completion of Internship
• Amazing opportunity to contribute to an organization making a big impact at the grassroots level in Uganda

Intern can work from home but will be required to conduct bi-weekly phone and/or Skype meetings with AGYA's Executive Director.

If you are interested, email resume to AGYA's Executive Director: by the deadline: June 5. Telephone interviews will be conducted the week of June 6th. Internship begins Monday, June 13, 2011. 

May 16, 2011

Help AGYA Win A StayClassy Award for Small Charity of the Year!

AGYA has been nominated for Small Charity of the Year, an award available to a nonprofit organization with annual revenue less than $250,000 that, despite its modest size, has a major positive impact on the world around it. AGYA certainly qualifies as we have impacted the lives of more than 1,000 people living in urban poverty in Uganda with limited resources. 

In order to move on to the next round of the competition, organized by StayClassy, AGYA needs to get at least 100 Facebook "Likes" on our Nomination Achievement. The deadline to reach the 100 Facebook "Likes" mark is June 28th.

To help AGYA get one step closer to being named Small Charity of the Year, all you need to do is:
  1. Go to:
  2. Click the "Like" icon next to the text AGYA Makes Big Impact By Giving Power to Ugandan Youth
  3. Share the link with your social networks, family, friends, and colleagues.

April 27, 2011

3rd Annual Service Learning Trip With USC Students Set For July 2011

This summer, as part of our service-learning volunteer trips initiative, AGYA will welcome several student volunteers from the University of Southern California. This is the third year that AGYA has hosted students from USC through a strategic partnership with RAYSE (Rise of African Youth through Self Empowerment). These ambitious college students will spend 4 weeks living and working at the AGYA Community Learning Center in Nabulagala. They will teach daily classes and workshops at AGYA's Community Center, volunteer at an elementary school and a local orphanage, undergo intensive Luganda language training, participate in cultural excursions, and collaborate with student leaders from Makerere University, Uganda's premiere 4-year degree granting institution of higher education.

The students, profiled here, all come from all different backgrounds and academic majors. In Uganda, they will teach a variety of workshops including: dance, film, music recording and production, storytelling.

Bijou Nguyen

Bijou is a freshman at USC majoring in History. In her free time, she likes taking pictures, hanging out with friends and family, laughing, traveling and meeting new people. She is looking forward to a month full of adventures and fun! She is the oldest of four and she loves animals. At AGYA, Bijou will work collaboratively with AGYA youth leader, Mathias Sseremba, to teach a visual arts class.

April 20, 2011

Youth Voices: Juma Kawesi On How His Fellow Youth, Kawera Enoch Introduced Him to AGYA

My name is Kawesi Juma. I am a 19 year old b-boy and I do breakdancing at AGYA. Last year, I was a Youth Leader in charge of the Free Lunch Program. Right now, I am the Assistant Facilitator of the b-boy class.

Above: A short clip of Juma practicing his dance moves

April 11, 2011

Top 10 Ways to Support AGYA

We often get asked, how can I help? How can I support AGYA? Well, in March, we counted down via our Facebook and Twitter pages the top 10 ways you can support AGYA. Here are the top 10 ways you can support counted down again!

1. Make a donation here: OR visit our Blog and click the yellow donate link in the right sidebar OR mail a check to AGYA International, 1620 Centinela Ave, Suite 303, Inglewood CA 90302 USA

2. Become an International Volunteer, travel to Uganda and teach workshops with children or youth! We have hosted more than 60 volunteers from 5 countries...could you be next? Get more details here:

3. Donate your airline miles! We can accept miles from every airline, including Delta, American Airlines, Emirates, British Airways, Turkish Airlines, KLM, Ethiopian Airlines, and more

4. Volunteer your professional skills for GOOD by becoming an AGYA Intern in one of the following areas: Accounting, Grant-writing/Research, Fundraising, Graphic Design, and Curriculum Development. Interns can work remotely & must commit to 10 weeks. Interested? E-mail resume & cover letter to AGYA Executive Director, Divinity Barkley Matovu at

5. Follow us on Twitter: If you are already following us, shout us out with an @agya_africa mention so we can build our Twitter fan base

AGYA Co-Founders Attend TOMS Shoes "One Day Without Shoes" on 5 April 2011

On 5 April 2011, AGYA Co-Founders Abraham Matovu and Divinity Barkley Matovu participated in "One Day Without Shoes," the global awareness-raising event hosted by TOMS Shoes, a for-profit company that uses an innovative one-to-one business model. For every shoe TOMS sells, the company gives a new pair of shoes to a child in need. One Day Without Shoes challenges TOMS customers to take off their shoes for a day in order to raise awareness about kids all over the world who cannot afford shoes. 

Divinity and Abraham decided to participate in the event after learning about it from former AGYA volunteer, Joey Borgogna, a TOMS customer. 

Above: Divinity and Abraham with Joey shoeless on 5 April 2011. 

Youth Voices: AGYA Co-Founder Matovu Abraham Attends Clinton Global Initiative University Conference in San Diego

AGYA Country Director and Co-Founder, Abraham Matovu, attended the Clinton Global Initiative University (CGIU) Meeting in San Diego, California during the weekend of April 1-3, 2011. 

Hosted at the University of California at San Diego by Former U.S. President, Bill Clinton, the conference highlighted 5 areas: education, energy & climate change, global health, peace & human rights, and poverty alleviation. President Clinton emphasized the importance young people to develop and implement innovative, sustainable solutions to the world’s most pressing challenges (

At the Conference, Abraham had the unique opportunity to network, share, and learn from global youth activists and college students from the United States and more than 90 other nations. Abraham attended sessions on grassroots community engagement and education: pathways and opportunities for adolescents. 

April 3, 2011

AGYA Co-Founders Give Keynote Address at MIAD's Service Learning Symposium, Radio Interview at WUMM 89.7

On March 25, 2011, AGYA Co-Founders Abraham Matovu and Divinity Barkley Matovu were honored to give the keynote address at the 10th Annual Service Learning Symposium hosted by the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design (MIAD).

Divinity and Abraham (pictured above at MIAD) spoke to community leaders, campus administrators, and students with majors ranging from photography to sculpture and design. As MIAD's first keynote speakers with an international focus, Divinity and Abraham discussed how AGYA is using the arts to economically and artistically empower young people in urban Uganda. The presentation also highlighted the interconnectedness of passion and community service. 

AGYA Executive Director Visits Ethiopia - Conducts Informal Needs Assessment With Urban Youth

From March 21-23, 2011, AGYA Co-Founder and Executive Director, Divinity Barkley Matovu, visited Ethiopia where she met with several youth living in Addis Ababa, the urban capital of Ethiopia. While there, Divinity was hosted by 28 year old Robel Alawi, a native of Harar, Ethiopia who works part-time as a travel guide for international visitors. Robel also works with an organization that provides basic care for orphans, street children, and homeless youth who live in abject poverty in Addis Ababa. 

March 26, 2011

Youth Voices: AGYA Girls Teen Shamirah Nansubuga On Finding A Family In AGYA

Before I joined AGYA, I didn’t know what goals and having dreams in life meant. I joined AGYA the day it started in 2008, and I was happy to be a part of everything that was going on in AGYA.

The environment and the people were positive and I felt that it was the place I was longing for. I got to learn things I never thought I would get a chance of knowing in life.

March 19, 2011

Youth Voices: Bboys Kawera and Derrick Write About AGYA's Impact in Their Lives

My name is Ssembajjwe Derrick Blusarino, I am 19 years old and I would like to share with you something about Talent. Before I discovered that I could be a bboy, I used to involve myself in a lot of negative stuff just like any other youth living in the ghetto. I had no hope for the future because I didn’t even ever take time to think about it. I lived a very wasteful life style and associated myself with negative people.

I am glad to write that today I realized my true self when I joined AGYA in 2009. A friend introduced me to AGYA and ever since the first day I came to AGYA, I have witnessed a lot of positive change within me.

(above: Derrick performing a dance routine at the Annual Hip-Hop For Society Event)

The way I used to see things has changed, I have learnt to appreciate, associate and share. AGYA has been my turning point in life because I have transitioned from that rebellious ghetto boy into a responsible and respectful young man. Through AGYA I have improved my talent and dancing skills. 

I even teach other youth who come to practice dance at AGYA. I feel my dancing career is being uplifted and I can now determine a bright future because I know it’s there for me if I continue to work hard and develop my talent.

Through dance I have been linked to big dance projects like Break-dance Project Uganda (BPU), Dance Together Uganda (DTU)), Sixstel International Foundation and Kyuka Youth Outreach. I have showcased on different platforms including Hip-Hop For Society organized by BPU, Hip-hop Expo organized by AGYA, Dance Week Uganda and Jump Youth Explosion among others.

March 12, 2011

Professional Musicians To Teach Recording Our Dreams Workshops in AGYA Studio

AGYA is excited to announce that acclaimed music producer David Mukalazi and established rap emcee Simon “Mon MC” Ssemwogere will be facilitating daily workshops at AGYA’s Recording Our Dreams Studio. These professional musicians, who bring a combined 25 years of experience in Uganda’s music industry, will be sharing their talent and skills with Ugandan youth.

Mukalazi has considered himself a musician since the age of 10 when he began playing the piano and guitar. By the time he was 18, Mukalazi was writing songs, had created his own live band, and was directing the African Children’s Choir. Mukalazi made the transition from live music to the studio in the mid 1990s. He is widely recognized as the first person to produce a rap record in Uganda in 1995 when Ugandan hip-hop was still in its infancy.

As a trailblazer in Uganda’s music industry, Mukalazi  (pictured here playing keyboard during a live performance) is credited for production work on more than 60 albums during the course of his career.

After years of working in the for-profit sector of the entertainment business, Mukalazi is ready to explore his passion which is helping young people develop their musical talents. Mukalazi is the perfect choice to lead the implementation of the Recording Our Dreams curriculum which is a 16 week intensive training course developed by AGYA Co-Founder Divinity Barkley Matovu. 

March 9, 2011

New York Based Filmmaker Shares His Thoughts on AGYA, Uganda

My trip to Africa was birthed out of a desire to go to a place where I had never been before and do something that I never dreamed possible.

I came to know AGYA Co-Founders, Divinity and Abraham through USC student Hayley Pappas. Hayley had been interning for Joey Borgogna at Creative Visions Foundation, which is sponsoring the documentary. She had nothing but great things to say about Divinity, Abraham, and AGYA.

I had no idea what to expect in Africa. I remember stepping off the plane and thinking to myself I’m in the motherland, the cradle of civilization. As an African-American man I was dazed and confused the first few days. The idea that I was on the same continent that some of my ancestors lived on was hard for me to wrap my head around for about a week.

We were picked up from the airport by Abraham and a few youth leaders from AGYA. We drove about an hour before we arrived at the slums. I was amazed at how so many people could live crammed onto such a small piece of land.

March 1, 2011

AGYA Executive Director Contributes to Just BE Cause, a Book About Social Entrepreneurship

Just BE Cause is an e-book that will provide meaningful ideas and resources to social entrepreneurs, specifically those optimistic go-getters who make up Generation Y better known as Millenials. AGYA is excited to announce that our very own Co-Founder and Executive Director, Divinity Barkley Matovu has been selected to contribute to the book. As a contributor, Divinity joins leaders from organizations like The Institute for Social Entrepreneurs, StartingBloc, Ashoka and Catchafire who share their ideas, experiences, and viewpoints on subjects ranging from sustainability to microfinance, authenticity to creative fundraising.

The brain behind Just BE Cause is Syreeta Gates, a 23 year old social entrepreneur from Queens, New York. Syreeta is the founder of The SWT Life (pronounced “Sweet”), a company that maximizes the likelihood of success for young innovators by providing entrepreneurial coaching, personal development training, and exposure to successes in the arts, entertainment and business. As a news source, incubator for, and purveyor of urban youth culture, it is poised to be the most influential brand for the millennial generation.

February 13, 2011

AGYA Now Raising Money with SwipeGood

AGYA has teamed up with SwipeGood, a company that helps nonprofit organizations make fundraising more efficient. Here’s how it works:
  • Go to
  • Sign up your card
  • At the end of each month, SwipeGood will round up each purchase to the nearest dollar, and donate the change to AGYA.
  • You can also cap your monthly donations, so you‘re in complete control of the amount of money you donate each month.
"To make giving easier we wanted to eliminate the main three decision points people have: deciding how much to give, deciding when to give, and deciding who to give to," said Steli Efti, Member of the SwipeGood Team.
"People can donate to AGYA every time they go grocery shopping or eat out in a restaurant, basically helping to empower, educate and enrich the lives of vulnerable children and youth in Uganda every time they spend money."

So the next time you're at the checkout counter, think about the difference your pennies can make. By making a tax-deductible donating through SwipeGood, you can turn the spare change for every purchase into an opportunity to help Ugandan youth gain access to arts education and leadership skills.

February 12, 2011

Girls Program Updates

Its only February but 2011 has already been an exhilarating year for the AGYA Girls Program. Firstly, the Girls Program is announcing the 10 high-school girls who have been selected to receive scholarships this year. Scholarship funds are provided by AGYA’s partner, the Century City Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. We are honored to inform our supporters that, after a competitive application process, the following AGYA Girls will receive full-year academic scholarships from AGYA:

Above: Scholarship recipients with AGYA Co-Founder Divinity Barkley Matovu.

February 1, 2011

University Fund Advisory Board Members Announced

Last month, we announced the creation of the AGYA University Fund, a savings account that will provide college-bound Ugandan youth with a sustainable source of financial aid. This month, we are announcing the names of the AGYA International Volunteer Program Alumni who have committed to serving on the Advisory Board of the University Fund.

As alumni of AGYA's International Volunteer Program, all of the Advisory Board Members are either college students or young professionals who have contributed to and experienced first-hand AGYA's work to empower, educate and enrich the lives of Ugandan youth.

January 28, 2011

AGYA To Receive In-Kind Graphic/Web Design Services from Brand Workshop, California

AGYA is proud to announce that, for the next 16 weeks, a group of students from California State University – Long Beach will be helping AGYA with branding and visual communication design services. The students are enrolled in CSULB’s Brand Workshop, which is lead by CSULB Professor Sunook Park, who is also the Creative Director of ANDLAB, Inc., a Los Angeles based cross-cultural branding consultancy.

The Brand Workshop meets twice weekly for an entire 16 week semester. During this time, students work on various projects that include branding and visual marketing concept development for corporations and non-profit organizations. AGYA has been selected as one of the non-profits that will receive brand consulting and web design services this year.