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Press Release


September 6, 2023

Contact: Erin Fitzgerald,

Samson Wambuzi Selected as 2023-2024 Obama Scholar at Columbia University

KAMPALA – Today, the Obama Foundation announced that Samson Wambuzi, Co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of Yiya Solutions, will be part of the sixth cohort of Obama Scholars, made up of 30 emerging leaders from around the world who will participate in an immersive program at either Columbia University in the City of New York or the University of Chicago for the 2023-2024 academic year. Mr Wambuzi will be with the cohort at Columbia University.

Samson, from Luuka district, Uganda, is a physics teacher with a Bachelor of Science in Education from Makerere University. He co-founded Yiya Solutions, a Ugandan nonprofit with a mission to develop resilience and creative problem-solving in African youths through experiential STEM education. Yiya's mission has been shaped by Samson’s childhood experiences, and he is passionate about leveraging the power of experiential learning to end cycles of poverty endemic in Uganda. In order to make STEM learning accessible to youth in rural Uganda, Yiya developed Yiya AirScience, a remote learning model that makes use of widely available technology like feature phones and radios, and enables interaction through a proprietary offline learning app. The model is designed to overcome barriers to learning, so learners do not need the internet or smart devices.

Samson shared that “as an Obama Scholar, I’m looking forward to building fresh connections and further developing my expertise in leadership, nonprofit management, and educational technology—skills that are essential for propelling Yiya to new heights. I’m also excited for the opportunity to experience the vibrant New York City life for the next nine months.”

The Obama Scholars program, a cornerstone of the Foundation’s work to develop the next

generation of leaders, provides Scholars with exposure to real-world skills, tools, and experiences that will expand the impact of their work when they return home. The Scholars will participate in academic, skills-based, and experiential learning, designed by Columbia University, in partnership with the Obama Foundation. Their experience will be further enriched by participating in Foundation-led leadership development programming that includes training, networking opportunities, and personalized support as they extend their efforts post-graduation. The Foundation-led program will kickoff September 7, with all Scholars attending an orientation in Chicago.

“The Obama Scholars program enables rising changemakers to gain insights into the work of fellow leaders, across issues and geographies, while collaborating to address complex

challenges,” said Obama Foundation CEO Valerie Jarrett. “We are eager to welcome the new cohort of Scholars to the Foundation family, where they will join a network of changemakers striving for a stronger, more sustainable, and more inclusive world.”

The Obama Foundation Scholars Program at Columbia University will welcome 12 Scholars from 12 countries for a nine-month residency at Columbia World Projects. Scholars will engage with the institution’s multifaceted program to deepen their knowledge and skills and build new capacities and networks that will accelerate their impact on the world. The cohort will partake in weekly seminars, personal and professional development workshops, audited coursework, and other tailored programming developed in close partnership with the Foundation.

The Obama Foundation Scholars program is designed to inspire, empower, and connect emerging leaders with the tools they need to make their efforts more effective and impactful across their global communities. Since its inception in 2018, the Obama Foundation Scholars program has supported 132 leaders from 59 countries, all actively working to address today’s pressing issues.

To learn more about the 2023-2024 cohort, please visit

To learn more about Yiya, please visit


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