Summer 2017

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Nick Grava: Open Arms

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Political science alumnus quit his financial services job to help South African children.

Nick Grava

Nick Grava never imagined that at 23 he would be simultaneously bouncing a baby on one hip, wedging carrots into a 5-year-old’s lunchbox and scanning parent-teacher conference notes. “It was a crash course in parenting,” Grava ’11, a political science alumnus, says of his experience caring for more than 30 children at an orphanage in South Africa. During a 2012 trip to see his brother, Chris, who was studying in Cape Town, Nick decided to skip his flight home and quit his job in financial services, leaping at the opportunity to serve at the Home of Safety orphanage. There are more than 3.7 million orphans in South Africa, and the massive scale of need moved Grava and his brother (sons of Derrick ’84 and Joan Kraft Grava ’82) to reassess the traditional nonprofit framework. In 2013 they founded Intsikelelo, which means “blessing” in the local Xhosa language. The nonprofit, based in the Western Cape, supports vulnerable children by strengthening local organizations’ capabilities via connections with global resources. The nonprofit helped launch a preschool for 50 children, a soup kitchen, an HIV support group and a community center.