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About Elephant Thoughts

A teacher run charitable organization.

Elephant Thoughts enables teachers to create change, both in Canada and abroad. We are a registered Canadian charity, founded in 2002 by a group of teachers, principals and other professional educators.

We are many things: a new form of charity built on principles of self-reliance and self-sustenance; a source of educational programs and solutions in the classroom and beyond; and a force for sustainable change in education both in Canada’s First Nations and in the developing world.

Our membership and volunteers consist of 1000’s of teachers globally. This helps us leverage the expertise of hundreds of education professionals to create some of the most effective and innovative educational solutions offered in any school, anywhere.

Elephant Thoughts works with schools across Canada including more than 100 Indigenous schools annually, and in Tanzania, Nepal, and India.  Elephant Thoughts also responds to major humanitarian issues including rebuilding schools after the earthquakes in China and Nepal, and sponsoring refugee families.

About Elephant Thoughts

A teacher run charitable organization.

Elephant Thoughts enables teachers to create change, both in Canada and abroad. We are a registered Canadian charity, founded in 2002 by a group of teachers, principals and other professional educators.

We are many things: a new form of charity built on principles of self-reliance and self-sustenance; a source of educational programs and solutions in the classroom and beyond; and a force for sustainable change in education both in Canada’s First Nations and in the developing world.

Our membership and volunteers consist of 1000’s of teachers globally. This helps us leverage the expertise of hundreds of education professionals to create some of the most effective and innovative educational solutions offered in any school, anywhere.

Elephant Thoughts works with schools across Canada including more than 100 Indigenous schools annually, and in Tanzania, Nepal, and India.  Elephant Thoughts also responds to major humanitarian issues including rebuilding schools after the earthquakes in China and Nepal, and sponsoring refugee families.

How We Create Change

ET positively affects the lives of more than 20 000 children from hundreds of schools worldwide annually.  Everywhere we work, we do so with the philosophy of supporting our partners with the resources they need to build better lives for themselves.  We offer resources, not solutions, as we feel that people in struggling communities know what will improve their situations and what works in their particular paradigm much better than we do.  We get great educational minds together from all over the world to help problem solve and find creative solutions.  We offer a hand-up, never a hand-out.   We prefer to facilitate the gathering of local people who are already making a difference in their community and support them rather than initiating our own projects.  We learned early that outsiders can support change but can never be the change maker.  It takes a local community member to truly understand what their community needs to develop and to have the passion, fortitude, and lifelong commitment to do what is necessary for real transformation and sustainable development.  All we can do is humbly support their efforts.
IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

IN THE DEVELOPING WORLD

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In the developing world we are active in a number of ways.  We sponsor students to go to school, we support local environmental projects, we supply water, and we back local champions making a difference eradicating poverty in their community.

We also have a flagship program we have been developing since 2011 called the Sustainable Schools Model.  It is being piloted in Igoma, Tanzania at the moment and was inspired by Timothy Lugejuna.

Timothy Lugejuna, Chairman/Director of Elephant Thoughts Tanzania, is a former principal who successfully brought change to Igoma Primary School in northern Tanzania. Timothy motivated community members to help implement school initiatives. Improvements such as beautification of school grounds and building additional classrooms corresponded with improved school ranking, moving Igoma from 165th place in the district in 2000 to 5th in 2006.

From simple school to community hub

The Sustainable Schools Model aims to take Timothy’s work a step further, incorporating the income generation programs that benefit both students and community. The idea is simple: we help schools meet their own needs by transforming them into community hubs. In this way, a school changes from a net cost to a net income earner, creating symbiosis and interdependence with the surrounding community.

We help schools in developing countries to become sustainable. We enable them to provide for their own basic needs and to achieve educational excellence.  We mobilize communities to take a greater part in the long term success and well-being of their schools.

IN FIRST NATIONS & INUIT COMMUNITIES

IN FIRST NATIONS & INUIT COMMUNITIES

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Elephant Thoughts is a leader in First Nations and Inuit educational programs. Our team of professional educators specialize in incorporating First Nation and Inuit values, culture, special needs, and specific disciplines into all of our programs. These not-for-profit programs celebrate distinct Native culture and identity, while at the same time teaching and integrating both traditional and contemporary knowledge. We focus on programs that increase graduation rates, excite students about learning, connect the entire community to the education system, and teach programs that are pertinent to the audience, meaning material they are interested in and can use. It’s a unique approach that engages students and communities, and gives students the skills and courage to chase their dreams.
IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY

IN OUR LOCAL COMMUNITY

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Elephant Thoughts is very active in our own community supporting local Canadian children. We put children in summer camps and after school programs that they could not afford otherwise, we run unique and effective alternative learning programs for youth-at-risk, and we teach environmental science and help school aged children develop a passion for environmental stewardship.

Through initiatives like Watoto Learn, a program that enables children to explore and discuss issues of international sustainability, we teach children to become better global citizens.

Stories of Change

Below are just a few examples of systemic change created with the support of Elephant Thoughts.

Northern Graduation Rates

Tanzanian School Sustainable Improvement

Wolastoq Education Initiative (WEI)

In 2010 a remote Northern School Board whose graduation rates had fallen to 1.7% approached ET.  We were asked to create and deliver an academic intervention program to work with students in their graduating year and the year prior.  That 5-week intervention led to a 6% raise in graduation rate (60 students instead of 12) its first year. The following year the rates climbed to 15.6%, meaning 135 students graduated where only 12 had two years before.  One school had its first graduates in over 7 years.  Eight years later, 86% of the students we work with in that school board graduate.  Many of those students move on to post-secondary and arrive back in the community as trained professionals and future community leaders.

This effort has now been duplicated in schools across Canada using similar strategies.

In 2012 ET set up shop in Mwanza, Tanzania.  We had met a local school Principal who, with no resources other than his own ingenuity, was able to improve his public school, ranked last in the district, to  become the top school.  His method started by greening the schoolyard through tree planting  and then painting the school.  This attracted the attention of community members who were seeing change in their local school for the first time.  He managed, with volunteer labour, to dig a well which  became the water point for the community. With continued allegiance from the community,  he was able to solicite enough donated material and volunteer labour to build classrooms, an assembly hall, a staffroom, and sports fields.  All of this work was done with a budget of $200 per year.  We hired this Principal and paid him to teach his techniques to other schools.  In addition, we infused partner schools in the areas with books, desks, water, and other resources.  Five years later, ET supported schools have won 4 awards for the most improved schools in the country.

In 2012, Tobique First Nation contracted ET to support local education in the areas of improving reading and numeracy levels.  We recruited a team of local young people and taught them all of our best programs.  We created an after school learning centre, delivered camp programs, and worked alongside teachers delivering reading, numeracy, and hands-on science programs.  We taught the instructors  how to create new lessons and where to find funds to continue delivering their programs.  We supported this group to incorporate as their own not-for-profit organization and even helped them finance the purchase of a children’s summer camp facility where they now hold camps in areas of language training, science, and cultural camps. Six years later that organization is still going strong, completely autonomous as their own not-for-profit organization, creating jobs in the community, connecting youth with traditional knowledge, and elevating academic success.

Stories of Change

Below are just a few examples of systemic change created with the support of Elephant Thoughts.

Northern Graduation Rates

In 2010 a remote Northern School Board whose graduation rates had fallen to 1.7% approached ET.  We were asked to create and deliver an academic intervention program to work with students in their graduating year and the year prior.  That 5-week intervention led to a 6% raise in graduation rate (60 students instead of 12) its first year. The following year the rates climbed to 15.6%, meaning 135 students graduated where only 12 had two years before.  One school had its first graduates in over 7 years.  Eight years later, 86% of the students we work with in that school board graduate.  Many of those students move on to post-secondary and arrive back in the community as trained professionals and future community leaders.

This effort has now been duplicated in schools across Canada using similar strategies.

Tanzanian School Sustainable Improvement

In 2012 ET set up shop in Mwanza, Tanzania.  We had met a local school Principal who, with no resources other than his own ingenuity, was able to improve his public school, ranked last in the district, to  become the top school.  His method started by greening the schoolyard through tree planting  and then painting the school.  This attracted the attention of community members who were seeing change in their local school for the first time.  He managed, with volunteer labour, to dig a well which  became the water point for the community. With continued allegiance from the community,  he was able to solicity enough donated material and volunteer labour to build classrooms, an assembly hall, a staffroom, and sports fields.  All of this work was done with a budget of $200 per year.  We hired this Principal and paid him to teach his techniques to other schools.  In addition, we infused partner schools in the areas with books, desks, water, and other resources.  Five years later, ET supported schools have won 4 awards for the most improved schools in the country.

Wolastoq Education Initiative (WEI)

In 2012, Tobique First Nation contracted ET to support local education in the areas of improving reading and numeracy levels.  We recruited a team of local young people and taught them all of our best programs.  We created an after school learning centre, delivered camp programs, and worked alongside teachers delivering reading, numeracy, and hands-on science programs.  We taught the instructors  how to create new lessons and where to find funds to continue delivering their programs.  We supported this group to incorporate as their own not-for-profit organization and even helped them finance the purchase of a children’s summer camp facility where they now hold camps in areas of language training, science, and cultural camps. Six years later that organization is still going strong, completely autonomous as their own not-for-profit organization, creating jobs in the community, connecting youth with traditional knowledge, and elevating academic success.

Our Awards

We’re extremely proud of the awards we receive. Probably because it’s not easy to do what we do. There is no playbook for the ground breaking programs we implement in Indigenous Communities or the Developing World.  There are however, considerable obstacles including remote travel, bridging cultural divides, lack of current technology, challenging politics, sometimes even civil war and drought. Sticking with it—let alone getting good at it—requires enormous resilience.

So when the schools you work with are recognized as the most improved in the Country or you enable graduates in a community that has not had a graduate in over 7 years, it feels pretty good. That’s when you know you have the expertise, the experience and the resilience to endure and to succeed.

Paul Harris Fellow Award, 2017

Paul Harris Fellow Award, 2017

NSERC Promoscience Award, 2015

NSERC Promoscience Award, 2015

Donner Canadian Foundation Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Education, 2012 & 2013

Donner Canadian Foundation Award for Excellence in the Delivery of Education, 2012 & 2013

Ashoka Fellowship Award

Ashoka Fellowship Award

YMCA Peace Award

YMCA Peace Award

Paul Harris Fellow Award

Paul Harris Fellow Award

Me to We Award

Me to We Award

Service Above Self Award

Service Above Self Award

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CONTACT US

ELEPHANT THOUGHTS
10138 Hwy 26
Collingwood, Ontario
L9Y 3Z1 CANADA

PHONE
1.705.444.2012 / 1.866.702.5552

EMAIL
inquiries@elephantthoughts.com