TRAILBLAZER for high school youth

About the enke: Trailblazer Program

The enke: Trailblazer Program inspires and supports young people to create real change in their communities. Participants design and run projects to address the social issues they feel passionate about. Through this experience, participants increase their grit, social responsibility, self-efficacy and social capital, while gaining practical experience in project management and leadership.

The enke: Trailblazer Program inspires and supports Grade 10 and 11 high school youth to create real change in their communities. Participants design and run projects to address the social issues they feel passionate about. Through this experience, participants increase their grit, social responsibility, self-efficacy and social capital, while gaining practical experience in project management and leadership. Through the Trailblazer Program, we introduce high school students to other like-minded, passionate and enthusiastic young people. Participants learn skills that will help them achieve their dreams and use these skills to design and run a project in their community. Participants walk away from the experience having made an impact on their communities and inspired to continue to make change happen.

This is a national program that encourages participation from youth from every province in South Africa and beyond. We have had youth from as far as Windhoek, Namibia and Nairobi, Kenya, participate in the Program!

"The biggest learning from my enke experience is that no matter where you come from – whether rich or poor – you can make an amazing difference to those around you!” - Gareth Kieck, Trailblazer Class of 2012, Ignition Program 2014-15

2019 Applications Now Open!

Currently accepting applications for the 2019 Winter Intakes (June 2019 – April 2020), kicking off with enke: Forums in Northern Cape and Limpopo 29 June – 5 July 2019. 

Get the 2019 Application Form


The Trailblazer Program is a 9-month leadership, social action and skills development program for High School learners that promotes active citizenship, social cohesion and builds essential social and emotional competencies for life-long success.

There are 3 key components that unfold over the 9 months of the Program:

  1. Training at the enke: ForumParticipants attend the enke: Forum – a 5-day-long, residential training retreat. Participants develop leadership, communication, and critical thinking skills; hear from inspirational speakers and experts in fields such as entrepreneurship, technology, media and the environment.
  2. Social Action: Running a Community Action Project allows participants to learn by doing (experiential learning). Through this process, participants develop key skills in project design and management. Over the 9 month period, enke provides technical and emotional support for participants through our trouble-shooting hotline and monthly SMS reports.
  3. Recognition:  We recognize the effort that all participants put into the program – even where a community action project isn’t completed. All participants who start a project are invited to regional celebration events.  In addition, top projects are awarded prizes and all participants receive a certificate and letter of recognition.

Program Intakes

Each cohort of the Program is called an “Intake”. We host 1-3 intakes of the Trailblazer Program each year, with each intake accepting  125-140 youth per intake depending on funding.

Program intakes run as follows for the 9 month Program:

  • Winter Intakes: July – April (Celebration event held in May)
  • Summer Intake: December – August (Celebration event held in September)

Each 9-month cohort starts with training at an enke: Forum in July (Winter intake) or December (Summer intake).

Participation is by application only. Youth may independently apply, or can apply through  collaborative and recruitment partners (community organisations or schools) that we work with.


To become an enke: Trailblazer, Grade 10 and 11 high school learners must apply to participate!

Application periods, deadlines and detailed information is made available on our Opportunities Page. Also follow us on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates.

Selection Criteria

We are looking for young people who want to part of something really cool, interested in developing their leadership skills, meeting other young people from across South Africa who share similar interest in developing themselves and making their communities better. The program is open to youth from all races and backgrounds – we want to connect all youth to each other.

We consider the following criteria for selection:

  • Desire to build realise leadership potential through active participation in their school, church, or other community group.
  • Strong ability to interact and communicate with peers.
  • Knowledge of community, political and social issues.
  • A desire to learn the skills to make change happen.
  • English fluency and understanding as the program is delivered in English


Participation in the Program has positive impact on the individual and their community.

Benefit for Individual Youth

Participants learn skills that they can use in other parts of their lives; at school, when applying for a job or for
university and generally in the future. Also, if they can talk about what they learned as they ran (or tried to run!) a project then it will look good on CVs and in job or scholarship and bursary interviews. By designing and running their own Community Aation Project participants develop practical skills (planning, problem solving, resource management, resource mobilisation, team management) and non-cognitive skills (grit,
social awareness, self-efficacy).

The Program has long-term positive effect on the future of Trailblazers. In 2014 we conducted research on our alumni (past participants), which showed:

  • Those who complete a community social action project are more likely to show higher levels of ‘soft’ skills, practical project skills and social support.
  • Rates of further education and employment were higher in enke alumni when compared to national averages.
  • Those who began a social action project (regardless of finishing it) are approximately three times more likely to be engaged in volunteering or self-directed social entrepreneurial efforts.

It doesn’t end there! Program Participants have gone on to leverage their experience to receive scholarships, bursaries, awards, and recognition such as in the Mu0026amp;G 200 Young South Africans or enter prestigious programs such as African Leadership Academy.

Participants in our Programs go on to join our Alumni Network, accessing opportunities and support on an ongoing basis from enke: Make Your Mark.

Benefit for Communities

Creating real, positive change is how young people can make their mark. Using skills they learn at Forum, participants will be able to take action on the issues they feel passionately about and have real impact on a social issue and create a better future for South Africa. Young people don’t have to just sit back and inherit the world – we can actually be part of creating it. All too often we hear about “future” leaders – but at enke, we believe that youth can be leaders right now.

Examples of Trailblazer Community Action Projects (CAP):

  • In 2009, Maja and TK started an Each-One-Teach-One peer tutoring project at their school that contributed to increasing their Grade 11 pass rate from 67% to 90% in a 6-month period – Read TK and Maja’s Story of Impact
  • In 2015, Lwazi implemented a project to improve educational outcomes in his school. He built a team of peers with whom he ran homework classes for those struggling with school work and worked with their school management and the local government to bring their school library back to life – Read Lwazi’s Story of Impact
  • For her 2016 Trailblazer CAP, Chenoa started the “Cuddle Angels” project, collecting thousands of teddy bears and toys to donate to orphanages and homes in Durban and Johannesburg – Read Chenoa’s Story of Impact

The snapshots above are just a few examples of the over 700 social impact and enterprise projects run by high school learners through the enke: Trailblazer Program.


The value of the enke: Trailblazer Program is R13,000 per participant.

Thanks to the generous support of our funding partners, we are able to offer this opportunity for a subsidised participation fee of R2,950 per person or for free for participants who qualify for participation fee waivers (through our partners).

This includes:

  • Accommodation and meals for the enke: Forum (5-day residential training conference) and Celebration Event (1 day event)
  • Intensive training to improve skills in leadership, communication, resilience and self-awareness
  • Hands-on practical experience with designing and implementing a project
  • Take home materials and information resources
  • Dedicated support over the nine-month program
  • Recognition letters and certificates for completing the Program

We offer bursaries to cover program fees for exceptional applicants. Priority for bursaries is given to youth with financial difficulties, those from under-resourced schools (annual fees less than R5000), as well as youth identified by our implementation partners.


We believe that it takes a village to raise a child. We actively partner with schools and community organisations to work with us in selecting and supporting youth to participate in the Trailblazer Program. We are always looking for more partners to enhance the diversity and reach of our programs.

Benefits of partnering with us:

  • Opportunity for personal leadership development and practical experience for beneficiaries of your organization/school, which extends the scope of your offering to the youth you work with.
  • Low cost access to an established leadership and social action program. The associated financial cost is that of contributing to participation fees and/or transportation of your selected participants to the enke: Forum and Celebration Events.
  • Regular customized reporting on the activities of your beneficiaries in the enke: Trailblazer Program that can be used for fundraising.
  • Joint marketing and media with enke: Make Your Mark on the work of your beneficiaries that are selected to the enke: Trailblazer Program. Includes listing as an Implementation Partner in online and printed materials and media associated to the Trailblazer Program

Our implementation partners have included the Allan Gray Orbis Foundation Scholarships Programme, GOLD Peer Education, the Kids Foundation, University of Cape Town 100 UP Programme, Masifunde Learner Development, Keiskamma Music Academy, Ikamva Youth, University of the Free State Schools Project, Sekwele Centre for Social Reflection, 180 Ministries, Education Without Borders and many more.

Our school partners have included St. Cyprians High School, Westville Boys High School, Wynberg Girls High School, Krugersdorp High School, Crawford College and the African Leadership Academy.

CONTACT US to become a recruitment / collaborative partner

Trailblazer Stories of Change

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