Clifford Leon Smith was born on the 29th of September 1928 in Johannesburg, South Africa to Magdalene du Preez and Henry Gesant Jacobs. As a baby, he suffered from polio and did not walk until he was four years old. As a young man, he was a talented sprinter, who played soccer, tennis, and golf. He was a member of the Red Cross and a keen scholar who was accused of being lazy when he wanted to continue his education after completing standard eight. His membership in the Red Cross would ultimately inspire him to pursue a career as a medical doctor.
Through the sacrifice and efforts of his family, Clifford Leon Smith began his long and arduous journey to completing a Bachelor of Medicine and Surgery. Overcoming adversity under an apartheid government, he completed his first year at the University of Fort Hare before being allowed to transfer to the University of the Witwatersrand (Wits). During this time of enforced racial, social, and economic segregation where laws were enacted which defined a person's race, where they could live and spend their free time, how and where they could travel and work, and crucially limited by a separate inferior system of education for Blacks – Clifford Leon Smith was the first coloured doctor to graduate at Wits University from the then Transvaal province. Dr. Clifford Leon Smith would later become the first non-white Assistant District Surgeon in Johannesburg.
Dr. Smith’s professional life was dedicated to serving the health care needs of others and specialized as a Paediatrician, General Practitioner, and District Surgeon. In a career spanning 48 years, he worked at the Donald Fraser Hospital in Sibasa, Limpopo; Northdale Hospital in Pietermaritzburg; various hospitals across Lesotho as the District Surgeon for the British High Commissioner; and the Chris Hani Baragwanath Hospital in Soweto before opening his own practice in Newclare, Johannesburg.
Gifted in diagnosis and treatment, Dr. Smith was also a compassionate doctor. He had strong interpersonal skills and took a special interest in the lives of his patients, empathetic to their plight under an apartheid government. He would later dedicate his life to the upliftment and development of the communities in which he served.
Dr. Smith was first elected as a member of the South Western Management Committee of Johannesburg City Council on 29 November 1967 and served as the representative for Coronationville until 25 November 1969. He was re-elected in 1969 and 1971 and served until his resignation in 1972. On 31 October 1984, he was re-elected. On 26 October 1988, he was again re-elected and represented Ward 13 (Coronationville). Dr. Smith served as Chairman of the South Western Management Committee from November 1989 to March 1990. As a member of the South Western Management Committee, he served on the Grants-in-Aid Committee. During his term in office, he was an active and concerned Councillor who maintained a close relationship with the ratepayers in his ward. On 29 September 1994, Dr. Smith was presented with a Testimonial by the Members of the South Western Management Committee, in recognition of the excellent service rendered by him to the South Western Management Committee and the residents of Johannesburg.
Dr. Clifford Leon Smith passed away from cancer on the 2nd of February 2008, and his wife Yvonne passed away on the 8th of June 2015. They are survived by 8 children, 23 grandchildren, and 32 great-grandchildren.
When you speak to family, past patients and students, or colleagues of Dr. Clifford Leon Smith, you hear about a rare combination of diagnostic genius, compassion, and strength. His dedication to his family, patients, and community was tireless and unequivocal. This personal strength of will is the legacy and the ongoing aspirations of the Dr. CL Smith Foundation.
What we do
At the Dr CL Smith Foundation, our mission is to empower individuals from all walks of life. We believe that everyone possesses unique talents and potential waiting to be unlocked. Through a multidimensional approach that combines art, technology, community, and data, we provide the tools, knowledge, and opportunities for personal growth and self-efficacy. Our initiatives focus on nurturing skills, fostering self-confidence, and igniting a sense of agency within individuals, ultimately empowering them to thrive in their communities.
In addition to empowering individuals, we are deeply committed to uplifting communities. We recognise that positive change begins at the grassroots level. By fostering inclusive spaces for dialogue, collaboration, and creative expression, we aim to elevate the overall well-being and cohesion of communities. Our programs address pressing societal challenges, promote social justice, and encourage community members to become active agents of change. Through a combination of education initiatives, art exhibitions, workshops, and advocacy, we uplift communities, creating a ripple effect of positivity and transformation.
Transforming Lives for a Better Tomorrow
Ultimately, our work is about transforming lives. We believe in the power of creativity, compassion, and social responsibility to bring about meaningful and lasting change. Our holistic approach leads to profound transformations in individuals and communities alike. Whether it's through personal growth, healing, empowerment, or the challenge of societal norms, we are dedicated to making a positive impact today and shaping a brighter, more inclusive tomorrow. The Dr. CL Smith Foundation is not just an organisation; it's a force for positive social change, inspiring individuals, uplifting communities, and transforming lives for the better.
How we do it
At the Dr. CL Smith Foundation, our approach to creating positive social change is as unique as it is effective. We believe in the power of synergy, bringing together five pillars - technology, data, art, community, and strategic partnerships with government, civil society, and corporates - to drive transformative impact.
We leverage cutting-edge technology to amplify our reach and impact. Our digital platforms provide accessible resources, educational tools, and a hub for collaboration. Whether through our Community of Practice platform or innovative applications, we harness technology to democratise access to knowledge and opportunities.
Data is at the heart of informed decision-making. We collect and analyse data to gain insights into societal challenges, track progress, and refine our strategies. By harnessing data, we ensure our initiatives are evidence-based and adaptable to evolving needs.
The Power of Art
Art transcends boundaries and connects people on a profound level. We integrate the arts into our programs, allowing individuals to express themselves creatively. Art heals, empowers, and communicates complex emotions and ideas, fostering personal growth and empathy within communities.
Building Strong Communities
Communities are the driving force behind lasting change. We actively engage with local and global communities, fostering safe spaces for dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of diverse perspectives. Our community-driven approach ensures that our initiatives are contextually relevant and driven by the voices of those we serve.
We believe that collaboration is key to addressing complex societal challenges. Through strategic partnerships with government agencies, civil society organisations, and corporates, we pool resources, expertise, and networks to amplify our impact. Together, we work towards common goals, creating a collective force for positive change.
By uniting technology, data, art, community, and strategic partnerships, we forge a holistic path toward positive social change. Together, these pillars and collaborations form the foundation of our mission to empower individuals, uplift communities, and transform lives. Join us on this journey, where innovation meets compassion, and where collective action leads to a brighter and more inclusive future.
Focus areas and target benefiaries
We recognise the critical importance of the first 1000 days of a child's life in shaping their future. Our specialised programs in this phase focus on early childhood development (ECD), ensuring that infants and toddlers receive the nurturing care and stimulation they need to thrive. Our primary beneficiaries are caregivers, who receive guidance and support to provide the best care, while infants and toddlers are our secondary beneficiaries.
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
Our commitment to ECD extends beyond infancy. We design and implement projects for 3- to 5-year-old children, with a core focus on foundational literacy and numeracy. Through play-based learning and nurturing environments, we prepare children to be school-ready. Here, practitioners and caregivers are our primary beneficiaries, as they receive training and resources to facilitate ECD, while children and parents are our secondary beneficiaries.
The foundation phase of education is where children build the fundamental skills that set the stage for lifelong learning. We specialize in foundational literacy and numeracy programs that ensure students develop strong academic foundations. Teachers are our primary beneficiaries, receiving specialised training, while students and parents benefit from improved educational outcomes.
At the primary school level, we continue to emphasize foundational literacy and numeracy while also introducing students to the exciting world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. Our STEM initiatives inspire young minds to explore and innovate. Teachers are equipped with STEM education resources, making them our primary beneficiaries, while students and parents benefit from enriched learning experiences.
As students progress to high school, we remain dedicated to their growth and development. Our specialised programs include coding and robotics, and cloud awareness, equipping youth with essential 21st-century skills and preparing them for future careers in technology. Teachers are our primary beneficiaries, receiving training and resources, while students and parents benefit from enhanced educational opportunities.
We are passionate about promoting girl education. Through targeted initiatives, we ensure that girls have equal access to quality education and opportunities for personal and academic growth. Educators are our primary beneficiaries, receiving guidance on creating inclusive learning environments, while girls and their parents benefit from increased access and support.
Our commitment to youth development extends to fostering personal growth, positive behavior change, and empowerment among young individuals. Teachers and mentors are our primary beneficiaries, receiving training in youth development. Youth themselves, as well as their parents, benefit from improved skills, leadership, and opportunities.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV)
We actively address the issue of gender-based violence through art, education, and advocacy. By using creative expression and safe spaces for dialogue, we empower survivors and advocate for meaningful change. Caregivers, teachers, and community leaders are our primary beneficiaries, receiving tools to support survivors, while survivors and their families benefit from empowerment and advocacy efforts.
At the Dr. CL Smith Foundation, we recognise the interconnected roles of teachers, caregivers, learners, parents, and key stakeholders in the education ecosystem. Through our programs, we empower educators and caregivers, leading to positive outcomes for students and families alike.
Solutions and services
At the Dr CL Smith Foundation, we offer a diverse range of tailored solutions and services designed to empower individuals, uplift communities, and transform lives. Our comprehensive approach addresses critical societal challenges through innovative programs, cutting-edge technology, data-driven insights, artistic expression, and community collaboration. Explore our array of solutions and services below:
Early Childhood Development (ECD)
Our ECD solutions encompass a holistic approach to nurturing infants and toddlers during the vital 0-1000 days and preparing preschoolers for a successful transition to formal education. We provide caregivers with guidance and support, equipping them to create nurturing environments, while young children benefit from engaging ECD programs.
In the foundational phase of education, we specialise in enhancing foundational literacy and numeracy skills among students. Our solutions empower teachers with specialised training and resources, leading to improved academic outcomes for primary school learners.
Our STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education initiatives inspire young minds and cultivate a passion for innovation. We equip educators with cutting-edge STEM resources, fostering curiosity and critical thinking in students.
Coding and Robotics
In the digital age, coding and robotics skills are essential. Our solutions provide high school teachers with the tools and training needed to introduce coding and robotics into the classroom, preparing students for future careers in technology.
We are committed to breaking down barriers and promoting gender equality in education. Our solutions include targeted initiatives that empower girls with equal access to quality education and support networks.
Our youth development services focus on equipping young individuals with essential life skills, mentorship opportunities, and leadership development, ensuring they become positive contributors to society.
Gender-Based Violence (GBV) Advocacy
Through creative expression, education, and advocacy, we address GBV by providing solutions and services that empower survivors and equip caregivers, educators, and community leaders with the tools to support those affected.
We actively engage with local and global communities, fostering safe spaces for dialogue, collaboration, and the exchange of diverse perspectives. Our community-driven approach ensures that our solutions are contextually relevant and driven by the voices of those we serve.
We harness the power of data to inform our strategies, track progress, and refine our programs. Our data-driven insights enable evidence-based decision-making, ensuring that our solutions are effective and adaptable to evolving needs.
Our digital platforms and applications provide accessible resources, educational tools, and a hub for collaboration. We leverage technology to democratize access to knowledge and opportunities, making our solutions accessible to all.
At the Dr. CL Smith Foundation, our solutions and services are founded on innovation, compassion, and a commitment to positive social change. Join us in creating a brighter and more inclusive future through our diverse range of programs and initiatives.
Projects and products
Our Community of Practice platform, zibuza.net, is a vibrant mosaic of primary benefactors – teachers, secondary benefactors – learners, and a diverse array of stakeholders, including parents, government bodies, businesses, education agencies, universities, unions, CSIs, NGOs, and professionals. Together, we form a tapestry of expertise, innovation, and collaboration.
Zibuza means “we ask” in isiZulu and our mission is to promote equitable education, particularly in underprivileged communities. Its impact is reflected in our numerous achievements, partnerships, and commitment to enhancing educational quality and accessibility.
At the Dr. CL Smith Foundation, we believe in nurturing the seeds of knowledge from the very beginning. That's why we're proud to introduce Isithombo, meaning “seedling” in isiXhosa. It’s our initiative dedicated to Early Childhood Development where our mission is clear: prepare 3- to 5-year-old children for school readiness, with a playful and age-appropriate focus on home language and early numeracy. But we don't stop there, isithombo provides comprehensive support, training, and valuable resources to parents, practitioners, and ECD administrators. Together, we're sowing the seeds of a brighter future for our children.
Join us as we build a foundation of lifelong learning, one isithombo at a time!
Welcome to the future of libraries, today! We’ve partnered with Qualibooks Groups who have pioneered a new era in education. Their kibooks.online platform opens doors for learners, parents, and educators, offering seamless access to a treasure trove of eLibrary resources. What's groundbreaking? You can explore over 2,500 storybooks for ages 3-15 years, across multiple learning categories, anywhere, anytime, and on any device. Plus, they're breaking language barriers by providing content in all eleven South African languages.
Unleash your child’s imagination! Sponsored access to the kibooks.online library is available via zibuza.net.