The Play & Learn Foundation brings together boys and girls who have a passion for play, a drive to lead, and a desire to pursue academic and professional excellence.
By targeting underserved communities, PAL seeks to provide opportunity where it is most needed. Play & Learn engages youth in programming that encompasses football and sport training, academic support, mentorship, and community outreach. We do this by providing access to fun, safe, equipped spaces that are supported by committed tutors, coaches and mentors. Play & Learn works to empower our participants to pursue their passions and achieve their full potential.
Founder and Executive Director Nana Kwesi Ohene conceived the idea for a combined academic and football programme in 2013, during his time as an MBA (Marketing) candidate at the University of Ghana Business School. A lifelong football fan and experienced coach, Mr. Ohene committed much of his down time as a graduate student to coaching, managing, and organizing a variety of football initiatives at the University's Ajax Park. During training sessions, Mr. Ohene began to develop relationships with the many children who would come to watch. Eventually, the children were permitted to train with the Girl's International Student football team. Over time, it became clear that these kids had a strong desire to play and came from communities where resources and opportunities were lacking (such as Okpongolo, Shiashie, Bawlashie and Madina). Many of these children come from homes that relied on their contribution to family income and in which they were the first to receive a basic education.
After identifying a series of needs, in addition to a safe and fun space to play, Mr. Ohene and a group of dedicated supporters began to conceptualize what would, in 2015, become the Play & Learn Foundation. In its earliest stages, informal activities were held and covered a diverse range of lessons, from homework help to creative writing, time management to tolerance. Activities and lessons have since been formalized in order to maximize the benefits to the youth through more structured programming. Academic sessions focus on literacy and comprehension, while football training includes the nurturing of soft skills such as teamwork and discipline. Mentorship sessions focus on topics such as problem solving and goal setting, while community outreach activities teach tolerance and respect.
Nana Kwasi Ohene (Founder, Executive Director)
Nana believes that one act of random kindness can go a long way to make the world a better place. To him, Play and Learn embodies everything good about humanity & the need to be each other's keeper.
Jeffrey Addo (Business Development)
Jeffrey is a graduate from Depauw University, where he majored in Economics with a background in Finance and Banking. He is currently applying for grad school.
Hannah Sweatman (Head of PAL's Volunteerism and Cultural Immersion Program: Akoma Ntoaso Project)
Hannah is a student at St. John’s University studying Sociology, Anthropology and Africana Studies. She is passionate about sustainable development, empowering the youth, and serving others.
Sidney-Rich Nii Adotei Acquaye (Assistant Executive Director)
A Banker by profession, Sidney has a passionate desire to serve selflessly and believes he can make a global impact especially through sports.
Vanessa Opokua Ferguson Laing (Events)
Vanessa works with the Social Security & National Insurance Trust (SSNIT). She has a love for children who need her the most, hence her involvement with the Play and Learn Foundation.
Moria Deladem Amenyaglo (Volunteers' Coordinator)
Dela is a final year Social work student at the University of Ghana. She believes in girl empowerment and is passionate about making a difference wherever she finds herself.
Issah Sungbawiera Lutfata (Head of Administration, Research, and Corporate Partnerships)
Lutfata is a strong believer in little acts of random kindness going a long way to make the world a better place. She is passionate about children and is driven to be a change agent.
Dorcas Dzormo Nortey (Fundraising)
Dorcas works as a Human Resource Advisor in Ghana's public sector. She predominantly assists the Play and Learn Foundation with fundraising initiatives and other support where needed.
Philip Adadzie (Head of Finance, Tax and Revenue; Consultant)
Phillip is a Tax Manager at Ashanti Goldfields Corporation. He believes in the use of sports as a developmental tool to help empower children from under served communities.
Eunice s an Operations Analyst at the International Finance Corporation- World Bank where she supports various Regional development projects. Formerly an Auditor at Deloitte and Touche and a business development consultant at S&W, she has experience in client-facing roles. Young, vibrant and versatile, Ibukun is passionate about poverty reduction, financial inclusion, girl empowerment and child education
Play & Learn - Internationally
In order to facilitate fundraising and volunteer mobilization globally, Play & Learn entities are being established in several countries. To date, Play & Learn sister organizations have been registered in the USA and Norway, while registration in Canada is currently underway.
Play and Learn Foundation, Incorporated (USA)
Play and Learn Foundation, Incorporated (USA) was established in 2017 to support the mission of the Play and Learn Foundation in Accra, Ghana. Play and Learn Foundation Incorporated’s main purpose is to raise funds and solicit donations in order to provide materials and equipment for the athletics and academics program; to support the recruitment and organization of volunteers for coaching and tutoring programs and to help with the development of curriculums. In addition it provides organizational structure and monitoring programs in support of the growth of the Play and Learn Foundation in Ghana.
Play and Learn Foundation, Incorporated (USA) is a Maryland Private Foundation, recognized as tax exempt under Section 501(c)(3) of the United States Internal Revenue Code. Contributions to this entity are therefore tax deductible for American tax-payers; charitable receipts will be provided for all donations, beginning in 2018.
Board of Directors
Nana A. Owusu (President)
Nana A. Owusu is a Finance & Accounting Professional with expertise in non-profit accounting and grants and compliance. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Business and Economics from Ursinus College, as well as a Master’s in Business Administration from American University in Washington, D.C. Her passion to learn more about her heritage and culture drew her to a study-abroad program in Ghana. Nana believes that Play and Learn Foundation is her way of providing equal opportunities and resources to those in need.
Audrey Fanjoy (Board Member)
Audrey is a passionate, decisive, strategic Product Innovator, Solution Architect and Program/Division Executive with extensive experience in Global Health and Population Health. She supports the non-profit sector with strategic plans development, messaging and outreaching programs, all for improved and widened fundraising opportunities and program efficiencies. She is an avid advocate for wildlife and environmental issues and uses her wildlife photography as mean to give them a voice.
Menbereselassie Kebede (Executive Director)
Menbereselassie is a graduate of Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts (Bachelor of Arts in Community Health and Africana Studies). Her areas of specialization include global development, public health and operations management.
Isaac Dwamena (Treasurer)
Isaac has been an Ambassador for PAL since 2016. He is currently the head of business intelligence for REV Group, responsible for guiding its corporate strategy and business development. Prior to this role, Isaac spent nearly 8 years at Caterpillar Inc. in several lead roles across its Commercial and Finance divisions. Isaac lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife and daughter. His passion for working with NGOs stems from his commitment to improving quality of life for people around the world, specifically children.
Nana Kwasi Ohene
Nana believes that one act of random kindness can go a long way to make the world a better place. To him, Play and Learn embodies everything good about humanity & the need to be each other's keeper. Nana is the founder and Executive Director of PAL Ghana.
William (Bill) Fanjoy
Bill is the Director of multiple Commercial Service offices of the U.S. Department of Commerce and Executive Secretariat of the Virginia and Washington, DC District Export Council (DEC). Bill’s regional expertise is in Sub-Saharan Africa. Prior or to the Department of Commerce, Bill worked with several Africa-focused firms and overseas agencies, including USAID, the World Bank, and Peace Corps.
Antwaun is a strategic thinker and executive with extensive experience in international trade, government affairs and political operations. Prior to founding Penn & Broad Partners, Antwaun served as a Presidentially-appointed Deputy Assistant Secretary of Commerce at the International Trade Administration (ITA). Before joining the ITA, he served as Senior Advisor at the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). Earlier in his career, Antwaun spent over 10 years working as a Washington, DC-based political consultant.
Brenna works with a local business in Oakland California. She plans to visit Ghana again soon. For Brenna, meeting and working with the PAL kids is the most enjoyable and fulfilling thing about contributing to the organization.
Niisha K. Butler, Esq. (Attorney and Consultant)
Niisha is the CEO and Founder of We Global Arts Festival, LLC. She has over fourteen years of experience and a comprehensive background in Corporate Law, Entertainment Law, Youth Advocacy and working with non-profit organizations.
Board of Directors
Live Vedeler Nilsen (Chair)
Currently living in Copenhagen, Denmark, studying history and working part-time as a journalist. Live took part in a semester abroad in Accra, Ghana in 2015, where she began her collaboration with PAL.
Martin Sorge Folkvord
Currently living in Bergen, studying to be a teacher. Works part time as a journalist.
Mette Bjørnsdatter Hafskjold
Currently living in Trondheim, working in a café. Mette studied geography and participated took a semester abroad in Accra, Ghana.
Play and Learn Norge (Norway)
PAL Norway was founded in February 2017 in Trondheim, Norway. The organization aims to spread information about the Play & Learn Foundation to students considering an exchange semester in Ghana, and to engage Norwegians in funding campaigns aimed at improving the life of children in Ghana through PAL programming.
Play and Learn Norge is registered as a non-governmental organization (NGO). Contributions to this entity are therefore tax deductible for Norwegian citizens; charitable receipts will be provided for all donations, beginning in 2018.
Lloyd is Strategic Occupancy Planner for real estate firm Jones Lang LaSalle. He lives in Manchester, U.K.
Chanel Perreault is a student at McGill University, where she pursues a degree in environmental policy. She believes that the best future is one in which children everywhere have access to education and support.
David Owusu Afriyie
David Owusu Afriyie has a BSc in Music Production & Technology. He believes educating the youth is the key to unlocking their destiny, for themselves and their families.
He also believes that we learn everyday, and applying what we learn in life gifts us the freedom to play as we reap the benefits of educating ourselves.
Taylor is a student at the University or Iowa studying environmental policy, sustainability, and pre-law. She is passionate about Play and Learn because of the way it empowers the youth and girls.
Alliyah is currently finishing her last year of undergraduate school. She is inspired by the people she meets everyday trying to improve themselves and the world they live in.
Sirena Flores is a political science and sociology major at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is creative, innovative, and passionate about making an impact on her community—locally, and globally.
Jori Given is from St.Paul, Minnesota, and a recent graduate from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse. During her schooling she had the privilege to attend the University of Ghana. One afternoon she went to a Play & Learn event, and there she met her family. For the rest of her time in Ghana she would hang out, talk, play, adventure, and sometimes get homework done with her Litter Sisters. She is thankful for Coach Nana, both his aspiration to create a place where kids can thrive and grow, and his commitment and determination to get it done.
Erika Opoku is a Doctor of Physical Therapy practicing in Baltimore, Maryland.
She is committed to empowering underrepresented communities through health and wellness, as well as improving access to Physical Therapy and other rehabilitative resources both domestically and internationally.
Jeanette is a student at DePauw University in Greencastle, Indiana.
Jessica Clement is working in the fields of sustainable development and natural resource management. She has a PhD in economics from the University of Pairs 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne. Jessica was an exchange student at the University of Ghana from 2010 – 2011, which is how she first learned about PAL.
Abigail Van Hook
Abigail is a law student at the University of Illinois College with a focus on litigation.
Sidney is a student at Michigan Technological University in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, there she is studying Biomedical Engineering with minor in Glob/Community Development. She loves to paint, hike, bike, and be outdoors. Her passions include music, public health, youth empowerment, and giving love to others!
Kayla is a student at Saginaw Valley State University studying Psychology and Social Work. Her passions are for female empowerment, breaking stigmas around mental health, and encouraging the youth to reach their goals.
A graduate of University of California, Santa Cruz, Lina majored in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology. She serves as a health science specialist and dedicates herself to the uplifting and empowerment of marginalized communities. She hopes to purse medicine to connect the social justice and healthcare gaps to create better experiences and opportunities for women and children.
Ijeoma Ejiogu is a versatile public health professional with 4+ years of patient experience. Since 2014, Ije has supported the great work of the Play and Learn Foundation. She is excited to nurture the next generation.
Born and raised in China, currently pursuing a degree at New York University and making art in New York.
Samiyah is an Undergrad Philosophy student. She is passionate about humanitarian work because she feels it betters those around her as well as herself and can lead to a thriving community.
Jenna is a student at Loyola University Chicago, where she studies Social Work and Sociology. She feels passionate about volunteering in her community, learning about social justice, and getting involved on her campus through Greek Life and tutoring.
Emina is a master's student in Cultural Encounters and International Development Studies at the Roskilde University in Denmark. As a former asylum seeker from Bosnia, she aims to contribute in developing pro-active strategies by focusing her research on trafficking, migration, development, and international as well as regional policy. While spending time as a volunteer, she developed a great love for PAL and is looking forward to seeing the future successes of the foundation!
The Play & Learn Foundation works to empower Ghanaian youth through a combination of academics, athletics, mentorship, and community contribution to develop the skills needed to become leaders in their local and global communities.