We strongly believe that there are several inflection points between the age of 12 and 18 for children from underserved communities which impacts their ability to continue on their educational path. That's where the drift happens. Right interventions at these critical milestones can help sustain their path in the direction of education thereby helping them break away from the vicious cycle of poverty.
Unfortunately the challenges hit both the children and their families at the same time!
This calls for a two-pronged approach towards addressing this issue. While on one side, we have to invest on their "future" (the child and its education) , we also need to invest our efforts in the "present" by understanding their realities and co-creating solutions that fits their current needs as well.
Our short term theory of change is that by being with the family for a longer duration we can help them sustain and complete their child’s education.
Our long term theory of change is that if we increase the number of educated members of each community we work with, soon enough they will start leading this movement of education for their own communities eventually ending the cycles of poverty.
We chose after school hours (which represents >82% of a childs waking hours) as a potential space to democratize and create the maximum impact in changing the outcomes.
We start with our induction phase where we scout for locations where we will setup our After School Learning centers. These are fully equipped centers which can provide access to infinite resources both physical and virtual. These are then staffed by hand-picked graduates/semi-graduates or our own alumni from the same community whom we will train and empower to execute our mission.
Next, we start our selection process of the families based on our in depth assessment of the financial status, potential of the child, the level of commitment and most importantly how invested the family is in breaking away from their current situation.
Once these two "levers" are in place we then put ourselves on a long term committed support service with them through our After-School-Services. This then often results in a variety of interventions depending on the age group of the child ranging from daily academic classes to enrollment into appropriate schools/colleges, Financial support on school supplies and self-learning aids and in our last phases assisted guidance for job search or entrepreneurship. Our core team continuously builds and "aggregates" partnerships with all existing Non-profits, Ed Institutes as well as Edtech organizations so we can empower our centers with all the ammunition they need to lift their children out of poverty!
"Put simply - Our short term MISSION is to be CONSTANTLY there with these family at every step of their child's educational journey - just to make sure that "lack of awareness" or "financial constraints" DO NOT LIMIT the choice of what their path could be!
On a long term - Our MISSION is to create enough educated members in these under served communities so the default changes"
At the very root level, we are trying to address the issue of inter-generational poverty caused by the inability of low income families in sustaining their children's educational journey! We believe there are several constraints that they regularly encounter which needs to be addressed and supported at a much deeper level on case by case basis. As per 2014 data. the drop out rates are at almost 17.8% at secondary level and goes even higher as they proceed towards under graduation courses.
At a different level we are trying to fill the gap of Parents Non-availability or Inability to guide their childens education by outsourcing that task from them. We want their children to have the same luxury and a levelled playing ground as their counterparts who come from affluent and well educated families!
In spite of huge number of NGO's working with the Governmment to solve the macro issues of both enrollment and improving the quality of education, we see that a substantial chunk of children slip through the cracks because there is lack of sustained support and guidance to these families at a micro level AND "getting educated" just not being a default of the community they live in. These drifts/dropouts in turn is draining several years of effort and money expended by NGOs and the Government as well as impairing the families ability to break away from poverty.
In the day to day struggle that these families face and their own illiteracy, it is only unfair to assume that they will be able to "search" and "locate" the right Non-profit or educational Institute for continuing their child's education or for that matter even keep that "search" as a priority. We wish to bring these options and help to their doorstep so that the family do not loose out their chance amidst their recurring challenges.
While enrollment and quality of education is in the process of getting fixed through RTE/SSA and several joint efforts of NGOs and the Government, we feel a dire need of a supporting organization that can take these options to the doorsteps of the intended beneficiaries.
Our core focus segment is that of "highly invested parents" who have a dream for their child but economics limits and situations constraints them from making those dream come true.
Our beneficiaries are/will be the families from the under-served communities (Urban as well as rural) who have a deep desire to have their children complete their educational path but are constrained either financially or because they are just not aware of several options available. This is regardless of the academic performance of the child because our mission is to help every invested family find a path towards a proper conclusion of their child's educational journey.
We plan to invest only in families that satisfy the following main criteria
We typically reach our beneficiary mainly through the following channels
We realize that this is indeed a "wicked" problem to deal with since both the problem(s) and their solutions are not clearly known at the onset. Hence keeping principles of "Human Centric Design Thinking" at the heart of our model, we make sure that the child and the family is at the center of both defining the problem as well as designing the solution that works for them.
Once a child and its family is inducted, we then start a long term committed support service with them. This includes series of scheduled meets with the child, their family, their teachers/HM and/or any other stakeholders who have an influence on the child's journey towards education.
Our core support runs via four programs that kicks off at various stages of their growth.
Depending on the support needed or the plan of action set for the child, we then help the family become aware and pursue the various options available. Our first choice of options is always to leverage as much of existing Non profit or Government program which can meet our objective at the lowest cost. However in cases where we deem necessary, we may take over the financial burden so that family still gets a choice of the "right" path for their child without having to worry about "how they will pay for it".
We deliver our support program through our Centers staffed with full time Learning Center Coordinators who work with our pool of Learning Facilitators (also called teachers). One coordinator typically assist 15-20 children/families. By and large we recruit coordinators from the same community or from our alumni so that besides getting an employment, they also help our mission by becoming a force-multiplier within their "hives". Who else will be able to understand and guide us better in this? We also establish partnership with as many existing Non Profits and Educational Providers as we can so that our children have access to them when required.
From our experience of having worked with over 200 children/families for last several years, some of the challenges that we encountered and which we think will still continue to challenge us are as follows:-
Yes and No!
As per the research we have done so far, we find that "thankfully" there are several Non profits (1500+) that are addressing many of the educational needs. In addition we also see a huge corpus of corporate funds (estimated INR 6000 crore annually) flowing through CSR for addressing the macro-issues of both enrollment and quality of education.
However there are two gaps which we want to "seal"...
Our inspiration has been Abraham George and his Shanti Bhavan Childrens Project. While they take a child at age 4 and offer a full residential intervention till their job, we , at the best, are trying to be a subset of their grandiose mission. We start on Day#1 of high school and promise our support till Day#1 of job through our 3 hours a day, 6 days a week, 300 days a year after-school intervention.
And lastly , we also have a few organizations like EY Foundation's DISHA program, United Ways, Deeksha's Vidyadaan, Haqdarshak or Buddy4Study who are doing a beautiful job of aggregating or providing "free schemes and scholarships" that can help the ones in need. We are trying to be that "someone" who will help take these to its ultimate intended recipients!
Our goal for next 3-5 years is to impact 1000+ families in 50+ locations/Urban and Rural dwellings so they are empowered sufficiently to find their way out of poverty. We believe enabling their children to fulfill their educational aspiration and creating role model(s) within is the first step towards that!
We hope this will create enough momentum for the 10,000+ families living in these 50+ urban/rural dwelling to seek education as their means to fight poverty while our centers will grow to become that "bridge" to cross-over!
As we go about this journey, we would like to measure ourselves and our impact based on following five metrics