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Mark Grashow

Brooklyn, nonprofit president and founder, former New York City high school math teacher, world traveler, competitive swimmer

Mark Grashow was a New York City teacher for 34 years before retiring in 2001. Two years later, he went to Africa to attend a wedding, and on a side trip visited schools in Zimbabwe.

“I was shocked. I saw schools that had no books and kids that had no shoes. Behind our school in Brooklyn we had dumpsters full of books, school supplies, classroom furniture and sports equipment.” That year, he and his wife, Sheri, founded the U.S.-Africa Children’s Fellowship, a nonprofit dedicated to creating libraries and literacy programs in rural Africa. He spoke to students at 35 New York City schools about the needs of children in Africa, and they donated school supplies, clothes and other items to be shipped to Zimbabwe.

He did not know it yet, but Mark’s Chapter Two in life was beginning at the age of 58. “This is not your usual retirement, and this is not just to help kids in Africa. It’s about enabling American kids to discover how powerful they really are.”

The number of partner schools has grown. USACF has shipped to 900 schools, impacting half a million children in Zimbabwe, Ghana, South Africa, Tanzania, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Yemen, Somalia and Jordan.

This septuagenarian winds down by swimming competitively. He has been a top 10 Masters Swimmer many times over the last 35 years.

His impact has spread through word of mouth. He was mentioned in President Bill Clinton’s book “Giving,” which triggered a call from a man whose father was a chief in western Tanzania which set in motion a shipment of supplies to schools in need. He now works with the Super Soccer Stars program to send four coaches to Zimbabwe every year to train 60 instructors.

“My name is Mark Grashow, and I’ve been a teacher my whole life. Now, I teach students how to become global citizens.

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