The strongest oak of the forest is not the one that is protected from the storm and hidden from the sun. It's the one that stands in the open where it is compelled to struggle for its existence against the winds and rains and the scorching sun.
— Napoleon Hill
The Strongest Oak (TSO) Foundation is an international non-profit organization that provides mentorship, internship opportunities, and financial support to extraordinary youth in developing nations who have endured extreme adversity and trauma: genocide, war, rape or acute poverty.
Founded in 2010 and headquartered in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, TSO helps extraordinary youth (our “Oaks”) achieve life-changing personal, educational or professional goals, with the ultimate goal of becoming financially self-sustaining. TSO offers financial support to our Oaks for either post-secondary education or vocational training.
To bolster their chances for success, we also sponsor part-time internships in partnership with local employers; these employers provide our Oaks with the practical work experience required to secure a future job or to launch a small business or social venture. In-country TSO mentors (Oak Leaders) help ensure the Oaks stay on track with their goals and on-budget with their financial supporters.
In 2016, TSO began the Solar Energy Program to equip schools in remote, economically-challenged, communities (currently just in Burkina Faso) with solar panels, thereby providing them safe, clean and reliable lighting and electricity. This program gives TSO the unique opportunity to offer “green” internships to Oaks seeking careers in clean energy. These projects not only benefit our Oaks but also benefit everyone in the community by giving them access to electricity.
We currently operate in Rwanda, Uganda, and Burkina Faso, but also support Oaks from the DR Congo.TSO is a secular, international development organization. However, from time to time, some individuals with religious affiliations participate in TSO projects.