Virtual Mentorship for Traumatized Youth in Africa

If it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a “global village” to help support severely disadvantaged and traumatized youth in Africa.  What better way to expose them to a world of new ideas and possibilities than to connect them in live, collaborative relationships with international mentors and supporters from abroad, using Blackboard Collaborate. 

The Strongest Oak Foundation (TSO) is an international,  non-profit organization dedicated to helping extraordinary youth (aged 15 to 29) from the developing world overcome adversity (including war, genocide, rape and disease) through online collaboration with mentors. These youth, our "Strongest Oaks", are committed to improving themselves and their communities through higher education, employment, social ventures or entrepreneurship. Together, we help our youth set meaningful life goals, track their progress and maximize their chances for success by providing them with coaching, computer access and training, complex problem solving skills, moral support and, in many cases, funding and internships.

Although headquartered in Calgary, Canada, TSO ( is a virtual organization whose executive team, mentors and supporters collaborate live across four continents to achieve their objectives. Blackboard Collaborate would be a tremendous tool to enable effective live collaboration between TSO, our Strongest Oaks and volunteer supporters worldwide.  In addition, it would also provide an outstanding platform to enable Strongest Oaks to broadcast their captivating stories of resilience and achievement in live webinars, to audiences worldwide. In fact, two of our Strongest Oaks, Rwandan genocide survivors, Steven Shyaka and Charles Mugabe, already have successfully used web collaboration (Elluminate Live!) to share their experiences with live audiences in Learn Central forums.



Blackboard technology (particularly Elluminate Live!)  has a proud history of excelling in low bandwidth and unstable internet environments – a must for any online collaborative initiative in Africa. We have the same high hopes for the new Blackboard Collaborate version.


TSO, powered by Blackboard Collaborate, will help turn the “forgotten” into “leaders of tomorrow” in some of the developing world’s most fragile regions.   


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Comment by María Teresa Esponda (Mayte) on July 26, 2011 at 12:53pm

That will be great!

Our Strongest Oaks had incredible challenges in the past. They could overcome many difficults and now they are working not only for themselves but to help other people to succeed.

We are in touch now



Comment by Rushton Hurley on July 25, 2011 at 9:17pm
Wonderful project and organization! Perhaps we can find a way to work together to share the stories as well - my nonprofit ( houses a free, online video library by and for teachers and students everywhere. We could find ways to share the stories of those in your mentor program so students around the world could understand what they have faced and how they have overcome the challenges.

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