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2018 Top-Rated Nonprofit

Imagine Scholar

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Nonprofit Overview

Causes: Children & Youth, Education, Scholarships, Scholarships & Student Financial Aid, Student Services, Youth Development Programs

Mission: Imagine Scholar mobilizes a powerful network of African youth leaders.

Results: -Students admitted to the African Leadership Academy -Student admitted to United World College in Armenia -Student on full bursary for doctoral program in Cuba -Students admitted to Yale programs in the USA, Zimbabwe and Singapore -Students on full bursaries to universities across South Africa and Mauritius -All students are ranked in the top 10 in academic performance at their secondary schools -International partnerships with Groton School, East London School of Science and Camp Caldera -International awards and grants from the Pan-African Awards for Entrepreneurship in Education, DG Murray Trust and the US Embassy -Connected to over 30 Rotary Clubs around the world

Target demographics: high school youth

Direct beneficiaries per year: 70

Geographic areas served: Mpumalanga, South Africa

Programs: innovative leadership development

Community Stories

23 Stories from Volunteers, Donors & Supporters

Jack J.1

Board Member

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

General Member of the Public

Rating: 4

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.

Board Member

Rating: 5

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!

Sincerely,
Parker Montgomery

Client Served

Rating: 5

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!

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Angus E.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Client Served

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

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.

Donor

Rating: 5

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.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

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.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

I've been engaged with Imagine Scholar for several months now and have been blown away by its energy and efficacy ever since the beginning. It is a truly unique and inspiring youth development program that runs on passion, positivity, and an unwavering level of support. From the students to the facilitators, everyone involved in the Imagine Scholar community shares a genuine commitment to reaching their full potential and making a positive impact on the world. The degree of creativity and intellectual capability amongst the students is profound, and through the resources and support provided by the program, these aspiring youths are able to flourish as individuals, students, and leaders in their respective communities. The educational approach of the organization is distinct and all-encompassing, allowing students to pursue their own individual passions in a welcoming, forward-thinking environment. Imagine Scholar has already made a difference for so many deserving individuals, and I'm certain that the program will only prove more successful as its reach, influence, and community continue to grow. Thanks for everything that you do!

Becca N.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Imagine Scholar is an amazing, well-rounded youth development program that gives intelligent, promising, hardworking students a chance to pursue higher education and other disciplining programs that their surrounding community schools do not give them the chance to pursue. Imagine Scholar uses a combination of academic tutoring, leadership skills training, and personal self-reflection activities to help students become forward thinkers. Imagine Scholar fosters an environment of learning, community, and friendship.

Donor

Rating: 5

I was asked to become an ambassador for this organisation. In the process of this, I started connecting with some of the students who were interested in my field of work and in the creative arts, and have stayed in touch with them regularly ever since. I see so much of the amazing work Imagine Scholar do, and what they bring to and encourage in their students. It is truly inspiring and I believe they are changing lives for the better every day.

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I came upon IMAGINE SCHOLAR shortly after they initiated the program that has given hope and ensured the success of a significant number of youngsters in the remote poverty-stricken area of Kamhlushwa, south eastern Mpumalanga province in South Africa, when I was asked to source books for their library. Since then, I have witnessed the life-changing effect that Corey and his partner Megan have had on that community.

They have unwittingly taken up the challenge of the former Vice-Chancellor of the University of Cape Town, Dr Mamphela Ramphele to "reimagine South Africa and keep alive the dream" fought for by great leaders such as Nelson Mandela, Steve Biko and Oliver Tambo.

Rather than focusing on tutoring, they undertake to uncover the potential of the scholars by exposing them to critical and creative thinking, great literature and poetry, ethics and the importance of making their own contribution to the community. The development of academic and practical skills is thus a by-product of these youngsters' growth in confidence and belief in their ability to succeed in anything they set their hearts on. From the start, I was impressed by the students being trusted to make decisions such as the selection of the new cohort of Imagine Scholars each year. Their talents are evident in the enthusiastic testimonies of successes on the website, but this would not have been possible without the faith that Megan and Corey placed in their innate intelligence, aptitudes and wisdom.

In a community of many child-headed households, family support is rare; the Imagine Scholar team, including foreign volunteers and scholars who completed the program, steps in to provide advice and encouragement. As they live in the community, with basic housing, roads that turn to mud when it rains and drought that burns up the vegetables in their food garden, they experience the realities of the lives of the scholars on the program.

The Imagine Scholar students are truly blessed to be served by Corey, Megan and the many donars who generously support this inspirational initiative!

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Imagine Scholar is a humble nonprofit that has helped rural South African students repeatedly achieve feats that no other students have. So many educational programs only help students with their academics. Imagine Scholar does so much more. In addition to tutoring, the program focuses on personal development and helping students gain tools to drive their own growth. The students are also incredibly committed to helping each other. The sincerity of the students in the pursuit to dream big while also maintaining a critical eye on helping their own rural community is beyond inspiring. This educational environment is what every school should aspire to. I encourage you to visit their website www.imaginescholar.org to find out more, but more importantly, become involved! Learn how this small program helping students to revolutionize what it means to be a rural South African youth.

Check out these videos of two of the students:
-Justice - http://beautifulnews.news24.com/Beautiful-News/calling-checkmate-on-our-nations-education-emergency-20170920
-Samkelisiwe - http://beautifulnews.news24.com/Beautiful-News/if-i-can-be-a-doctor-thats-one-more-child-with-a-chance-20171004

Professional with expertise in this field

Rating: 5

I was an intern with Imagine Scholar while I was doing my masters in International Higher Education and had the opportunity to visit the program for a couple of months and work alongside the students and staff. Imagine Scholar truly is an organization that exceeds my expectations as a non-profit focussed on sustainable development through education. They encourage and cultivate students to explore their passions, ask questions, and provide a safe and welcoming environment for them to be uniquely themselves. Students are not passive but are important decision makers in how the organization grows and how they want to make an impact in their community. Imagine Scholar is truly an organization that has an ethical and sustainable ground-up approach and holds great integrity to its values. It's an honor to continue to work with them.

Client Served

Rating: 5

My first encounter with Imagine Scholar was 6 years ago when I was a 14 year old girl in 9th grade. Through Imagine Scholar, I got acquainted with the reality of "determination will get you anywhere" and "hard work pays". I went from being a rural girl in South Africa who had never seen nor used a computer, to being a Global Education intern at the World Affairs Council - Washington, DC (WAC-DC). Never in my entire life would I had ever imagined the possibility of attending university had Imagine Scholar not given me the opportunity it did, at the time it did. I am now a graduate not only from Imagine Scholar but from the South Africa - Washington International Program (SAWIP) as well. This proves that Imagine Scholar does not only end at Imagine Scholar, it opens doors for bigger opportunities. I am forever grateful.

Clara M.1

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Imagine Scholar is a phenomenal afterschool program. The students are incredibly talented, driven, and always eager to learn. Imagine Scholar's staff and volunteers/interns have a profound commitment to empowering South African youth, and ensure that students pursue exciting opportunities to realize their potential and broaden their worldview. I feel honored to be part of the Imagine Scholar Family.

Florian K.

Volunteer

Rating: 5

Hey there,

I had the chance to volunteer with Imagine Scholar in 2017 and I couldn't have been happier with this extraordinary project! I have worked with several grassroots nonprofits in Latin America, Asia and Africa for about two years in total and I can honestly say that Imagine Scholar is an absolutely unique program! As an after school program in a small rural community it goes far beyond assisting students with their academics - from philosophical debates about TED Talks and book cycles to building race carts and space balloons, the discovery and pursuit of utterly ample interests and passions is the foundation of this program and something that can be felt on the ground every day. With a student-centered approach Imagine Scholar fosters critical thinking and the contemplation of moral responsibilities in a country and world, where inequities and injustices ought to be addressed urgently. The students (and facilitators) are some of the brightest, most ambitious and passionate innovators, dreamers and thinkers I have ever met. With an incredible amount of grit, a love for learning, an untamed curiosity and endless support for each other, students at Imagine Scholar aim at empowering their community from within and I don't see any boundary stopping them from changing their world and beyond. Their achievements are already outstanding and I know that this is just the start. This nonprofit is a true gem with a sustainable future vision, so please donate to keep it going for many generations of students to come.

Best, Flo