Fred Swaniker, Founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group, Joins the Carnegie Foundation as a Senior Fellow

July 14, 2021

“The greatest equalizer in life is education.”

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching announced today that Ghanaian educational entrepreneur Fred Swaniker has been appointed Senior Fellow. He is the founder and CEO of the African Leadership Group that is developing entrepreneurial leaders across the African continent. Swaniker will work with the foundation on its strategic priority to support renewal and innovation in the postsecondary sector with the goal of improving equity, social mobility, and public purpose.

“Fred is one of Africa’s educational visionaries,” says Carnegie President Timothy Knowles. “He established one of the most rigorous secondary schools on the continent. He has built universities from the ground up in Mauritius, Rwanda, and Kenya, and is now scaling up a post-secondary model that aims to develop 3 million African leaders and entrepreneurs over the next decade. We can all learn from the extraordinary work he has underway.”

Swaniker began his education career as headmaster of a school in Botswana that was started by his mother and became the best school in the country five years later. He went on to study economics at Macalester College in Minnesota and receive an M.B.A. at Stanford University. It was there that he developed the idea of the African Leadership Academy—a residential college-prep boarding school that brings together students from across Africa to learn leadership and entrepreneurial skills. Swaniker then scaled up to develop a pan-African university system with campuses in Mauritius, Rwanda, and Kenya, and a goal of developing 3 million leaders for Africa by 2035. The network of universities was called “the Harvard of Africa” by CNN, and Swaniker was named one of TIME’s 100 in 2019.

“Today, we stand at a crossroads: post-secondary education costs too much, takes too long, and does not prepare people adequately for the future of work, says Swaniker. “If any organization can apply rigorous research and networks to re-imagine a better way, it’s Carnegie. Tim Knowles is committed to this better future, and I’m thrilled to join him and other fellows to explore innovations and boldly venture into new territory.”

“As Senior Fellow, Fred will help Carnegie understand and elevate designs for post-secondary education that are rigorous, affordable, experiential, and career aligned,” says Knowles. “Together, we will explore how to build robust pathways for Black, Latinx, Indigenous, and African young people into the highest growth professional sectors.”


The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching is committed to solving long-standing inequities in educational outcomes. The Foundation addresses problems that impact large numbers of students; tests innovations on the ground; understands what works, why it works, and in what contexts; and shares what it learns for use by others. In so doing, Carnegie integrates the discipline of improvement science and the use of structured improvement networks to build the education field’s capacity to improve.