Classroom Connections is a fun way for young people in the United States to learn more about Mali and connect with peers in Mali through hands-on projects. We are currently taking applications from U.S. teachers, scout leaders, and other youth groups to participate in the 17/18 school year.

My students loved learning about the kids in Mali and comparing the aspects of their lives. Writing the letters to real people was also a great motivator for my students, and the only time they actually begged to write!
— Kyla A., participating Classroom Connections teacher 16/17
Pen pal letters are fun and educational for both students in Mali and in the U.S. 

Pen pal letters are fun and educational for both students in Mali and in the U.S. 


We are currently taking applications for participation in the project for the 17/18 school year.  We will select just 6 U.S. classrooms or youth groups for the year. Fill out this easy form by June 30, 2017 to be included in the selection process.

Don't worry -- you aren't committing when you submit the form. We'll share more information about the project, timeline, etc. before you need to commit!

Name *

Classroom Connections is designed to educate students in the U.S. about students and culture in Mali, provide meaningful service projects for U.S. students to build relationships with their peers in Mali, and create a feedback loop that encourages U.S. students to better understand their world and how they can play a helpful role in the world. 

For the 17/18 school year, Classroom Connections will offer two core pieces: 1) a fun presentation with associated learning materials and 2) a service component that connects classrooms in the U.S. with classrooms in Mali.

First, Mali Rising has created a fun and colorful presentation for U.S. students that uses “a day in the life of a Mali student” to teach students here about life in Mali, and the power of education to change lives. For schools in Utah, this presentation can be given by staff. For schools elsewhere, we can help teachers give the presentation or we're happy to use online options. The presentation can be adjusted to suit 5th through 12th graders.

Second, a central idea of the Classroom Connections project is that students can learn about each other while helping each other. When students learn about our schools in Mali, their first instinct is often to ask how they can help. 

We can channel that instinct to help by working with students to create useful learning tools that are needed and easy to transport to Mali. Mali Rising is dedicated to make sure that service projects are tied to what the Mali students really need to succeed in their classroom, so we work closely with our Mali teachers to make sure service projects generate useful learning tools. Service projects can be designed to be appropriate for 5th through 12th grade. Service project options currently include:

  • English language flashcards. Using a list created by teachers in Mali, U.S. students create colorful, laminated flashcards to help Mali students learn English. U.S. students learn a little French (used on the picture side of the flash cards) and strengthen their artistic skills.
  • English or French pen pal letters. To make language learning more fun and tangible, U.S. students write short letters to students in Mali. Students in Mali reply. This project promotes language skills, but also encourages cultural sharing.
  • Maps. Mali geography teachers struggle to teach geography without maps for students to study (teachers draw amazing maps on the chalkboard, but those disappear at the end of the day!). U.S. students  label, color, and laminate copied maps of the world, West Africa, and Mali. This project will help students in both the U.S. and Mali with their geography skills. 
  • Other project ideas as generated by U.S. or Mali students and teachers/leaders.  In piloting this program, we found that good service project ideas often come from the classroom or group. We will be open to new ideas from U.S. classrooms and groups, although before implementing any new ideas we will work with our teachers in Mali to be sure the proposed learning tools will also be useful for actual classroom learning.