Sanelisiwe Attends the Yale Young Global Scholars Program in Beijing

Imagine Scholar student, Sanelisiwe

Saneliswe entered Imagine Scholar as a Grade 9 in 2015. Since then she has grasped every opportunity to foster not only her academic skills, but also the personal qualities that she values most of all: kindness, humility, and empathy. Moreover, she has been able to explore her passion for Marine Biology.

Inspired by stories of students attending events abroad as part of their training at Imagine Scholar, Sanelisiwe decided to apply to the Yale Young Global Scholars program. This selective, interdisciplinary program identifies and gathers the next generation of young leaders. Accepted into the program in early 2016, Sanelisiwe found herself on a flight to Beijing, en route for what she describes as the most meaningful experience of her life!

“Imagine Scholar is a  family. It’s a place where I get to be myself, to grow as a better individual and to be supported in the positive things I do.” – Sanelisiwe

The program involved history classes in the morning and skill development workshops in the afternoon. Guest speakers came from all over the world to discuss the history of China. During these sessions, Sanelisiwe became aware of the different ways in which this subject could be taught. This left her with the conviction that the way history was taught in her school had room for improvement. During the skill development workshops, students would get together in small groups to share ideas and practice skills such as interviewing and writing. She also attended seminars on various themes, such as how big companies approach failure.

The highlights of Sanelisiwe’s trip were making friends with high-achieving youths from all over the world, feeding on their passion for learning, and making useful connections for the future. Grateful for this positive opportunity, Sanelisiwe wishes to give back. After her studies, she hopes to start a program in her community where she could help other young students find their paths in life, through their passions.

Authored by: Mélissa Manglou & Zinzi Nsingwane

Imagine Scholar Named a Finalist for the 7th Annual Classy Awards

BOSTON – Imagine Scholar was named a top 100 finalist for the 7th Annual Classy Awards. The Collaborative is a unique three-day experience that brings together top social innovators from around the world. Each day offers a series of speakers, breakout and interactive sessions, and networking opportunities that culminates in the Classy Awards ceremony. Classy, the world’s leading online fundraising platform for social enterprises, has hosted this event and award ceremony for years in San Diego and has recently expanded the footprint into Boston’s Innovation District for the last two years. This year’s event will take place June 13-15, 2017.

Imagine Scholar offers an alternative approach to combating systemic developmental challenges in rural South Africa. The rigorous academic program is coupled with a humanizing organizational culture that builds character and accountability, and places an emphasis on personal development. Imagine Scholar fosters purpose-driven young leaders and empowers students to become the next generation of advocates for positive change in their communities, South Africa, and beyond.

Imagine Scholar was one of several hundred programs nominated to this year’s Classy Awards and then went on to complete a comprehensive program application.

Finalists were selected based on their scale and scope of the problem, an innovative approach; ability to solve the problem; and organizational effectiveness. From here, 10 winners from the 100 finalists will be chosen by the Leadership Council and announced on stage at the awards ceremony in June.

“The Classy Awards has become one of the top forums for recognizing global social innovation,” said Pat Walsh, Co-Founder and Chief Impact Officer of Classy. “Classy Awards Finalists are pioneering innovative ideas and technologies addressing some of our greatest social problems, and we’re honored to play a role in recognizing their incredible accomplishments.”

3 Key Benefits of a Student-centered Curriculum

The fact is that given the challenges we face, education doesn’t need to be reformed — it needs to be transformed. The key to this transformation is not to standardize education, but to personalize it, to build achievement on discovering the individual talents of each child, to put students in an environment where they want to learn and where they can naturally discover their true passions.” Ken Robinson, The Element: How Finding Your Passion Changes Everything

Teacher-centered vs. student-centered learning has been a recurrent and lively debate on education forums.

In a traditional teacher-centered model, the instructor is the “imparter of knowledge” while students listen, and are corrected and evaluated on their performance. In a student-centered model, the playing field becomes leveled; the focus is on both the teachers and students. It opens the door to a multitude of possibilities for educational curricula.

Here are 3 main benefits to a student-centered model:

Transitions students from passive to active learners

Empowered students can explore what genuinely interests them and what they are passionate about. They can take ownership of their work and their ideas. It encourages creativity, originality, and responsibility in what they are taking away from their learning experience.

Our EV Team works on building their award-winning electric vehicle

Acknowledges individuality

A recognized selling point for student-centered models is that they encourage collaboration. A student-centered model accepts that students have different learning styles and absorb information at different rates. It is open to various styles of learning whether that be in groups or individually.

The fashion designs and sews new creations!

Opens the door for collaboration and dialogue between the educator and student

Instead of teaching at students, teachers take on the role of a guide or facilitator for students’ learning experiences. Instructors support, encourage, provide feedback, answer questions, ask questions, give suggestions, and challenge.

The Scholars discover new texts with the guidance of a program facilitator

Imagine Scholar’s uniquely student-driven approach empowers youth to take accountability for their education, and for their future. Each student in the program is encouraged to find what makes them come alive and to follow that passion. 


2016 Overview

2016 impact

2016 has been our best year yet! Read on to learn about our students’ accomplishments and discover the impact our donors have made on our community. Thank you to all who have helped us foster an incredible environment for enthusiastic young leaders in rural South Africa!

Discover Our Impact

Imagine Scholar’s student-driven culture and focus on passion has always led us to do things a little differently. Thanks to an energized student body and a phenomenal family of supporters all around the world, our program reached new heights this year!


We hope that you will join us in 2017 to catalyze our mission to inspire a life-long love of learning.

Student Achievements

Our students have found great success in their personal and academic pursuits this year! Some highlights include:

  • 3 students attended the South African National Junior Chess Championships
  • 5 students attended the Yale Young Global Scholar’s program in Singapore and the United States
  • Our Electric Vehicle team won the Mpumalanga Electric Vehicle competition
  • On average, each student in our program read 20 books this year
  • 100% of all students passed their matric exams

Alumni Achievements

Imagine Scholar alumni continue to excel in their respective endeavors! Here are some of their impressive achievements:

  • 100% university pass rate
  • 65% of all graduates are on a full university scholarship
  • 90% of all graduates are currently enrolled in post-secondary academic programs
  • 100% of graduates remain in close contact with Imagine Scholar
  • 100% of graduates have committed to financially supporting a student in our program in the future

Our alumni are currently pursuing exciting educational opportunities in Cuba, Mauritius, Armenia, and South Africa!

  • Mandisa is studying at the African Leadership Academy in Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Jabulani is studying at the African Leadership University in Mauritius
  • Rodger is studying at the United World College Dilijan in Armenia
  • Victoria is completing her medical degree in Havana, Cuba

Community Action Projects

Our students are at the helm of community development. This year, they designed and implemented numerous community action projects:

  • Reading Room

    In order to improve child literacy rates and foster a love of reading, the Scholars meet with local primary school students every week to read and act out stories!
  • Trash pick-up

    The Scholars ran 2 trash pick-ups in our community this year!
  • Recycling projects

    Chawe encouraged other students to collect recyclable material, which he then “upcycled” into artistic sculptures! Andile also spent time with primary school students to turn discarded materials into art.
  • Hospital volunteering

    Many of our students volunteered at the local Tonga Hospital this year. Queen, a Graduate Facilitator, dedicated her one day off a week to do so.
  • Big Buddy Days

    This year, our students ran 9 Big Buddy Days to inspire younger students in our community to love learning!
  • Chess classes & tournaments

    Imagine Scholar’s Chess Team launched weekly chess classes for youths in our community, along with tournaments where they could test their skills!
  • Gardening project

    NomT (Grade 12) raised funds in our community to plant an organic garden at a local home for the elderly.
  • Grade 8 programs

    The Scholars ran 3 programs to help over 100 Grade 8 students build personal and professional skills.
  • Sewing project

    Our Fashion Club has started sewing and selling their own creations, as well as training members of our community to sew!
  • Computer Science Workshop

    Simphiwe, an Imagine Scholar graduate, ran a multi-part computer science workshop in his community over his university holiday.
  • Youth resource website

    Phila (grade 9) and Zinhle (Grade 10) created a website for local youths to highlight extraordinary opportunities and competitions available to them. The site also provides knowledge about internet cafes, libraries, bursaries and how to apply to university.
  • Volunteering at an orphanage

    Over the holiday, 8 Scholars dedicated their time to volunteering at a local orphanage to mentor the youths and help the staff cook, clean, and maintain the building!

    Nomcebo sewing

“Imagine Scholar gave me the confidence to do something different. After they helped me identify my passion, I was able to envision how I could change my community, even though no one had started a sewing training project before.” – Nomcebo (Class of 2019)


Oshri Joins our Network of Global Ambassadors


Oshri, winner of the TRACE Music Stars competition in South Africa

Oshri Elmorich is a multi-award winning Israeli / South African singer-songwriter, and the newest member of our Global Ambassador network!

Oshri’s Story

Oshri came from small beginnings, but that hasn’t stopped him from making a name for himself in the international music scene. Much like our Scholars, the rural environment Oshri grew up in did not stifle his industrious spirit!

At age 15, Oshri found fame as a member of a prominent Israeli boy-band. His success continued, and he was able to cement his musical talent with a top 10 finish in Israeli Idol a few years later. However, like many creative professions, things weren’t always easy, and he later found himself in a musical doldrums after his yearly career highlights.

“Not growing up with very much allowed for the viewpoint of seeing “success” on the horizon, being hungry to make light of negatives, be driven, and strive for bigger and better things” -Oshri

Frustrated and needing a change of scenery, Oshri moved to South Africa on a whim and fell in love with the country! Music

Oshri performs

Imagine Scholar Global Ambassador, Oshri, performing

took a back seat to personal exploration, but always stayed in the back of his mind. Unexpectedly, a brochure for the TRACE Music Stars competition caught his attention and he threw himself back into his passion.

At age 25, Oshri had won TRACE Music Stars and was on a plane to New York City to establish his international brand, Oshri Music, under the mentorship of Wyclef Jean. Back in his groove, Oshri played a show in Paris where he got signed to Music Star, Akon’s record label! Now a New York City resident, Oshri works with the biggest names in music and entertainment to share his passion with the world.

But it’s about more than just the music… Oshri has a strong belief in sharing his personal story and helping youths find and foster their passions.

A Passion for Youth Development

As the winner of TRACE Music Stars, Oshri was awarded one very special prize: a trip to Costa Rica to participate in the Global Volunteer Network’s “Be the Change” program (now the IC3 Academy), an immersive workshop for social entrepreneurs.

“I always knew I wanted to give back, but BTC showed me the right way to do it – how to channel my specific set of skills and leverage my personal story.” -Oshri

Oshri in Costa Rica

Oshri attending the “Be The Change” program in Costa Rica

Since “Be the Change”, Oshri has focused his efforts on helping youth from rural environments identify their interests, hone tangible skill sets, and develop strategic plans to reach their goals! He feels akin to young people constricted by the lack of resources that plague rural areas, but also feels strongly that having less can often catalyze drive and inspire action.

Oshri believes that resources and tools are needed to activate, educate, and engage emerging entrepreneurs, and has dedicated himself and his story to give youths hope while encouraging them to strive for personal excellence.

Oshri and Imagine Scholar

Oshri’s commitment to helping youths find purpose resonated with Imagine Scholar from the start. As our new Global Ambassador, Oshri will leverage his international popularity as an artist to help the Scholars reach new heights.

“Perseverance”, he says is the most important thing:

“Follow your spiritual GPS and find innovative ways to turn no’s into yes’s. If you stay true to your beliefs, someone will eventually believe in them too.” -Oshri

With this sentiment, he also reminds the Scholars to be realistic and strategic. He reminds them to approach everything with professionalism and to throw themselves behind their studies. When opportunity strikes, they’ll be ready!

We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Oshri on our team. To hear his latest music and stay up to date on his latest successes, visit his Facebook page or Follow him on Twitter.

Join Oshri in supporting our mission to provide each of our young leaders with the resources and support they need to become the next generation of ethical politicians, successful business men and women, and creative innovators of South Africa:



Alucia Finishes Top of her Class in Tourism

Top tourism Award

Alucia and her mother accept the award for Top Tourism Student

Imagine Scholar alumni, Alucia Masilela, finished top of her class at Tshwane University of Technology! Alucia will graduate in 2017 with a degree in Tourism Management. International Development intern, Nikki, sat down with Alucia to see how Imagine Scholar contributed to her success in university. 

Q: How did Imagine Scholar influence you? Do you think your time at the program center influenced your path of study?

Honestly at first I had no desires of pursuing a career in tourism but the moment I started doing it, I felt the love for it and discovered where my passion lay.

Imagine Scholar shaped my preferences in such a way that I was able to think for myself. I was able to decide what I want to do and stick with it. My parents were opposed to the idea of me studying Tourism Management. It was a hard battle to fight, but I was able to convince my parents through my grades that I want to stick to tourism.

Imagine Scholar never judged me or tried to make me choose a different program, they were always there for me.

Q:  How do you feel Imagine Scholar impacted you most?

The honest thing is that Imagine Scholar made me who I am today. Corey, my best friend, believed in me and always made sure that I knew that. It is because I am a part of Imagine Scholar, and that Imagine scholar is a part of me that my life has taken this path. When I was going through personal problems, Imagine Scholar did not step back but was more than willing to help. I can now face any challenge without thinking of giving up because it’s “too much.” Now I can make informed decisions on my own, I believe I can do anything because of the positivity that I got from Imagine Scholar.

Q: How do you think the program has developed since your first year there?

The program has developed a great deal since my first year. I wish I could have studied more like the students who are currently doing their four years!

When I look back during my first year, it was hard to see which direction the program was headed in. However, as the years have gone of, the program has really decided on a specific path. It has developed in every aspect possible. Huge progress is being made with tangible proof: students are getting scholarships, going to study overseas, and participating in international academies, programs, and competitions!

Q: What about the future—Do you plan to use your studies to give back to Imagine Scholar one day?

I want to be a part of Imagine Scholar for as long as I live. I want to come back and be fully involved. I want to be a part of giving someone the same opportunities that Imagine Scholar gave to me.

I would love to come back to Imagine Scholar and share the opportunities tourism has to offer with the young leaders there. Traveling has become very popular recently, which has created many new careers in tourism!

Q: What advice can you offer the current young leaders of Imagine Scholar?

Behave! Behaving might seem like a simply thing, but it really opens a lot of opportunities for you. When you are well behaved, you pay attention to detail and you don’t lose focus. Behaving well allows you to decide what is most important and what will work best for you. There are so many things that stand in our way as young leaders and so many bad influences. But if you behave, you can counter that.

Imagine Scholar’s strength arises from the personal ownership our youth take in the program. With the help of social investors, we are able to provide quality education and experiential learning opportunities to influential young leaders like Alucia. We would like to invite you to become a part of our growing family by sponsoring a student today:

Invest in a Scholar