I joined Imagine Scholar in 2016 because I saw it as a place for me to learn, develop leadership skills and create relationships that are the backbone of my life. I have six siblings and all of us are raised by a single mom who never spent more than 3 years in primary school and who's a farmworker. Growing up I always wanted to do good at school so that I can help her out. The reason I mention my mom is that she is similar to Imagine Scholar. My mom made sure, is it still making sure, that my siblings and I had access to education no matter what. She believes in the power of education to change the world and this applies to Imagine Scholar too.
At Imagine Scholar I fell in love with learning (education) because of how my facilitators approached it. They empowered me to take charge of my own learning by offering books, online courses and classes where my input was taken into consideration. And this was very important because it improved my confidence in sharing ideas and figuring out new ways to bring change. For example, I used to be scared of starting a project to help out other students in my community but Imagine Scholar helped me overcome that fear. At Imagine Scholar I learned to believe in my ideas, and those of my friends, and to try doing something even if I never heard about it before.
Currently, I am doing my last year of high school at United World College Red Cross Nordic in Norway and this was possible because of Imagine Scholar. I attended two Yale summer camps, one in Ghana and one in Connecticut. These are all things that I never thought I would do. These are things my mom never thought I would do. But I did them because Imagine Scholar believed in me and helped me dream bigger than before.
I know that it was part of my hard work that connected me to Imagine Scholar but at the same time I always feel like there is some luck involved. If there's some luck involved, I don't want to be the last one to have that luck. Thus, I'm coming back to work at Imagine Scholar after I am done with college. I want to work with the youth from South Africa and hopefully the whole of Africa and help them have access to the same opportunities as I did and even better ones. This is the role that I want to play in the world and I am very grateful to Imagine Scholar for helping me realise it.
I have been part of imagine scholar as a student for four full years and I am currently in university. I consider Imagine scholar as a place of growth and I can boldly say with confidence that I have seen nothing in my life but positive impact only. It's one of those places where you get to be free and reach your full level of potential and creativity. They not only focus on individuals, they also reach out to our communities. We've done many community services, touched many individuals within our communities and made change in our society. It's one of those organisations that are worth keeping, for their positive influence within individuals as well as our society.
I have been involved with Imagine Scholar for over 5 years and love every aspect of my engagement. The organization has a simple, but very effective strategy for helping to launch future leaders in rural South Africa. Imagine Scholar inspires the creativity, intelligence, curiosity and leadership skills of high motivated students through an after-school and weekend enrichment program. Students devote over 25 hours per week in addition to their regular school hours. These students are amazing and they have plans to change the world! Imagine Scholar provides all of the on-the-ground support and also continues to support the student needs in college, professionally and beyond. Imagine Scholar is about creating leaders--but not just any leader--these are leaders with the vision and ethics to be the agents of change needed in this community and many others around the world. I have had the chance to work with many of the students directly and to watch their incredible growth and development. I am inspired every time I interact with an Imagine Scholar student--they give me tremendous hope for the future!
Imagine a program that trains teens to think philosophically and critically beyond what they've been exposed to at home and school. Imagine a place where some students travel up to 30 miles to get the special attention and encouragement that the Imagine Scholar staff gives them along with a simple meal of PB&J, eggs and fruit.
Imagine a place where students have a desire to make their community and the world a better place. Imagine a place where students learn to express themselves so authentically and eloquently that they often earn scholarships to prestigious schools and universities all over the world.
Imagine a place down a dirt road with 3 simple buildings, a volleyball net, fruit trees, and 2 chickens and 2 dogs, 2 cats rural South Africa. Imagine an international staff willing to commit their own youth, knowledge, and enthusiasm to nurture the bright, sweet and eager youth around Kamhlushwa. IMAGINE IT! IT IS HAPPENING AT IMAGINE SCHOLAR!
I left Imagine Scholar feeling hopeful and humbled!
Great non-profit doing really important work in a community that needs them. The staff and students all carry the same level of passion and enthusiasm to developing young people with high moral character. I have been working with Imagine Scholar on providing options for university studies for the past 3 years and have loved every interaction with the team and their students.
Professional, conscious, genuine group of dedicated leaders who help inspire their community and feel passionately fulfilled while doing it. Their love is as contagious as their drive. Their approach is to teach a community of young people to fish, or rather to guide them in the right direction of finding the tools and resources to do so when they are already destined to be great fishermen. Wonderful mentors and friends with a beautiful mission.
Imagine Scholar is an excellent program. I was able to visit the program with my sister and am grateful to have seen it in person. Students are happy and they really want to be there to learn and progress. The staff works really hard for the students. They maintain a high level and students are willing to work outside the box. Students love being there and want to be there as much as possible. They are eager to learn and I know nothing is going to stop them as they go through life.
It's been a pleasure to be involved in this nonprofit for the past 5 years. The culture created by staff and students fires an enthusiasm in learning I've never seen before. On no-less than two occasions this has propelled students into space. They created their own space balloon rising 34km above the earth to capture a perspective few of us have been lucky to obtain. Can't wait to get back and see everyone....
Best, Gavin (Yellobric, School Space Race)
I remember when I heard about Imagine Scholar as nothing more than an idea and being moved by that vision alone. In the years following, I observed from afar as it grew and grew through the tireless efforts of students and staff alike.
I was blessed recently with an opportunity to come assist in its continued development. Once there, I was able to behold the magic of what Imagine scholar has become today. Just thinking of the students, the staff, and the amazing culture they’ve created- it makes my heart swell and brings tears to my eyes.
Being able to create real change in this world, whether locally or globally- it begins in fostering the unlimited potential of young minds. And I got to see it happening daily, up close and personal. While I facilitated but a small role in being a positive and encouraging influence to the students, it is an honor I shall forever cherish. I can’t wait to donate my time and efforts again. More importantly, I can’t wait to see the world that these amazing young intellectuals create not only for themselves, but for you and I as well. And to think- it all started with one idea in one mind, planting the seed of change, and letting it proliferate and bloom, just the way nature intended!
So very honored and humbled,
I became involved with Imagine Scholar at its outset. Since its inception, the organization has made a huge and meaningful impact on the Nkomazi community of South Africa. Imagine Scholar's executives and staff are dedicated and passionate. They ensure the success of their students through constant effort, empathy, and enthusiasm. The accomplishments and successes of this organization are abundant--just peruse their website for a few minutes and see. What truly astounds me about the organization is the individual attention and care each student receives. If we had a global educational system predicated on the principles enacted by Imagine Scholar then all the children of the world would have a brighter future.
After being selected to be part of Imagine Scholar in 2012, I got the opportunity to meet and interact with peers and staff members from unique backgrounds and with different perspectives. This has helped me to be an open-minded person and step outside my comfort zone. Through Imagine Scholar I got the motivation to explore my passion in mindfulness and mental health as well as youth empowerment.Some of the major takeaways I got from the program are gratitude, giving back to my community and grit.
With the skills I learned at Imagine Scholar(writing, critical thinking and communication and etc) I am able to cope with pressure and have my social and academic life at equilibrium in college. The program is still part of my support system to its alumnus and students.
I was at Imagine Scholar just a year ago. My time there was brief but it honestly felt like a retreat getaway. I was away in a secluded area, away from the buzzing city life engaging with the most intriguing teens whilst learning the isiSwati language.
As a person who has worked in a handful of Nonprofits, Imagine Scholar definately stood out for me. The programmes are carefully crafted to encourage critical thinking on a global scale, the facilitators provide a sufficient degree of assistance whilst allowing the learner to grow independently. After being in a traditional classroom the best way to further enhance your intelligence is to engage in an academic program that has a liberal arts centered curriculum. From witnessing young people engineering an electric vehicle, to a duo of chess champions, nodding profusely to an introductory class in coding. I felt so inspired by the team and the young people.
I definitely have intentions of returning to see these young people who have probably made more discoveries and some who have come up with the most mind boggling theories.
I've been lucky enough to support Imagine Scholar since its founding nearly a decade ago, was asked to serve on the board in 2012, and finally was able to visit in 2016. During this time I've watched Imagine Scholar grow into a self-sustaining organization that's becoming the educational, entrepreneurial, and leadership backbone of the Nkomazi region. It's after-school and weekend program is the foundation for hope for a small but growing number of young students with unlimited potential who are looking for any opportunity to change the lives of people in their community for the positive.
On my visit I was lucky enough to spend time with the second student I've sponsored who, with help from Imagine Scholar and guidance from the staff and previous program graduates, is working his way into college and a rewarding life beyond. Not many people where he is from get that opportunity and all he needed was the tiniest bit of motivation and a support group of people who said to go for it. He spends nearly all his non-public school waking hours at Imagine Scholar, learning and exploring and figuring out where his place is in the world. Imagine Scholar seems to me to be situated in a beautiful yet devastated part of the country and the students there are trying against all odds to grow their community into something they are proud of and that provides hope for the future generation of young people growing up there. I'm very lucky to be a part of their journey and I look forward to contributing for as long as I can be a part of it!
I was chosen in 2012 to join Imagine Scholar . I recall that I was a narrow minded kid and loaded with fear. However, meeting with the extraordinary learners and facilitators with phenomenal personalities from the program challenged me to change the way I used to view the world. I was then introduced to reading which truly enhance my discourse.
More significantly, Imagine Scholar is a genuine family! The love and support I get from them is tremendous! They truly put stock in our dreams and continually eager to help us to accomplish them. Presently, I am doing my third year in Computer Science. This was my greatest dream throughout everyday life and through Imagine Scholar I am experiencing my dreams.
Henceforth, today I see myself as young men with love for problem solving with a burning desire to give back to my community and be an inspiration because my motive for success does not revolve around being self centered, but lifting up the ones that can’t embark on the journey to success on their own, like I was.
I genuinely appreciate the open door Imagine Scholar offered me to wind up the best form of myself and help me find my capabilities!
Uniquely, instead of announcing a Mission Statement, Imagine Scholar asks a Mission Question: How can youth be empowered to enact change within themselves and their communities now and in to the future?
In the seemingly simple gesture of asking a question in lieu of making a statement, Imagine Scholar allows for the individuality of each student, her talents, her circumstances, and her goals. In this manner, Imagine Scholar is all about the student and not about its own self-perpetuation. Indeed, Imagine Scholar’s aim is its own obsolescence: the ultimate goal is mentoring these students to become leaders of their own community, eventually leading to the natural displacement of Imagine Scholar in that particular space.
Like minds attract, and it is in this vein that Imagine Scholar and my debate group, The Hive, connected: as communities who ask questions with the goal of finding an answer, sometimes many answers. I brought 4 students to teach a debate workshop during the winter break 2017. Even on holiday, the students evidenced what seems to be fairly typical Imagine Scholar behavior: the curiosity to check us out initially, the self-confidence (notably lacking self-consciousness) to dive right in, and the sense of community to share the experience with others and beyond the workshop itself.
Imagine Scholar is more than an after school program. It is a community of people who choose to support one another as whole people. Notably, Imagine Scholar is visionary but rooted in reality. Their aim is to support and broaden that reality on an individual and community-wide basis so that the vision becomes real.
Imagine Scholar is a great example of a nonprofit revolutionising development through smart initiatives and innovative methods, rather than huge spending. In the time I spent with them, I was amazed by the quality of the education that the children in the program recieved, without extensive spending on facilities. The organisation is run from top-to-bottom with a visionary approach, encapsulating the idea that the community can be the first to help themselves. Their program doesn't just teach maths and science, it teaches the children to become innovators in their community, to become lifelong learners and to appreciate how their efforts can rewards themselves and their peers rewards.
The work of the co-ordinators and the staff on the ground contributes to an educational model that not only helps the kids in the program, but also has multiplier effects on the entire community. Imagine Scholar is a nonprofit that I loved to be a part of, but I also wish could become a model replicated on a much larger scale.
I was selected to be part of Imagine scholar at the beginning of 2011 (Second generation class). When I started as a student, I was told I was becoming part of an afterschool journey where I will get insights and mentorship from people coming from different parts of the world with different backgrounds, who will dedicate their time and energy to transforming my character, developing my critical thinking, strategic, innovative and leadership skills. I was told we will explore different topics like problem-solving, poetry, writing for academic purposes, solving social issues while receiving extra academic help and broadening our knowledge with books, podcasts, articles, ted talks, online info forums, etc. 8 years later, as a former student, I know I got way more than what was promised to me, my character changed drastically, my curiosity, vision, courage, empathy and global mindset grew beyond measures. Because of Imagine Scholar, I got a chance to go college, start a social venture to solve a problem in my community and on top of that, get a global learning experience to acquire skills required to take an idea I had and work on initiating it.
With all of this, nothing would have been possible without the extra packages that they (Imagine scholar) provided, which is the sense of belonging through knowing you have a family and are surrounded by like-minded individuals, support from facilitators to students who push you to be resilient and continue to develop, provide you with an endless source of opportunities and possibilities, continuously providing meaningful relationships which give you the courage to aim higher than the sky.
I volunteered with Imagine Scholars and I was blown away by the commitment of the staff and so impressed by the dedication of the students. The staff have created an environment that encourages learning, self-discovery, and community support. They tailor make their curriculum to ensure maximum involvement and effectiveness, so that the students can access their full potentials.
I have been an imagine scholar student sponsor for almost 2 years. I chose to contribute to this program because it fills a specific and necessary niche in a creative and sustainable way. South Africa’s greatest need, I believe, is to grow the next generation of strong, educated, committed professionals and leaders. This program balances developing each student’s own goals and ambitions with instilling in the student the desire and platform to give back to the community and help nurture the next intake of students. This self-sustaining and supportive model is proving to be very successful and the achievements of the students and graduates from the program speak for themselves.
I've been involved with Imagine Scholar for several years, as an off-and-on advisor for their students. The work being done there is top-notch: their youths are empowered to become effective learners, communicators and leaders in their communities. Their facility is full of support and optimism, which gives students a feeling that they'll be able to accomplish whatever they set their minds to. And they're right! Scholars have been accepted to numerous prestigious prep programs and universities. All around, it's a great nonprofit doing impactful work in an area where students are in need of their services.