Archive for the ‘Fellows’ Category

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others.” – Mahatma Gandhi

India lives in villages. This is one of the most common saying we have heard but there are very few who want to go and understand the problems that are being faced by our villages.

Gramya Manthan (Rural Immersion Program) is dedicated to developing social leaders; well-rounded youngsters who are equipped with leadership skills to solve the challenges faced by Indian villages. Its core aim is to ignite young hearts with holistic concern for their society and nation.

Gramya Manthan aims at bridging the gap between India and Bharat. It will select 50 most amazing hearts from the country and take them on a rural exploration. The idea is to make youth realize the pressing issues of our country, it will help them understand the problems of our villages and execute solution during the course of program. It will be a 9 day (Weekend to Weekend) residential program in the remotest part of our country with the intent to rediscover Bharat by experiencing the burning issues.

Apply Now: http://youthallianceofindia.org/gramya-manthan/apply-now/

Gramya Manthan’s Core Purpose:

There is a huge sense of disconnect between rural India and today’s youth. Youth has no clue of what are the problems being faced by our brothers and sisters in rural parts. They have read a lot, heard about the issues but have mostly never experienced or if experienced then they did not get a chance to think and execute solutions over there. We strongly believe that youth wants to contribute but often finds it hard to figure out the right way to go about it.  We believe that by exposing passionate young people to these issues and giving them opportunity to solve small problems, we can ignite the fire in their hearts. This fire can make them think of both “Why they ?” and “How ?”, it will infuse a high sense of  ”I Can” in them.

  • It will change the outlook of young people towards issues in rural India and enhance their skills and knowledge to address them
  • It will provide the young with the ability to seek holistic long term solutions and provide them great alternate career choices
  • Turn the direction of conversation among youth groups  from mere discussion of problems to solution oriented talks, and eventually action oriented plans
  • Develop a pool of social leaders and build a strong network
  • Create a community of youth who could serve as role model for their contemporaries
  • Inspire  to act, cause attitudinal shift in mindset


Gramya Manthan (Rural Immersion Program) is divided in three stages:

Part 1: Induction and Case Studies of model villages of India (first two days)

Part 2: Living the way villagers live (a day with a village family)

Part 3: Work in a village and address one of the prevailing problems coupled with group reflections, sharing and leadership forums

About Youth Alliance:

Youth Alliance is an organization working with a vision to “Connect EACH Youth With a Cause”. We believe in the philosophy of sensitizing young people towards the society by showing them the real picture and connecting them to ground reality. We are aiming at nurturing young role models in the society. We also have a range of programs like “Lead The Change”; “Samarpan”; ”Come Alive” meant to create awareness as well as bring change in society.

For more details: http://youthallianceofindia.org

 Contact: 07838540546

Email: info@youthallianceofindia.org


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Youth Alliance has come up with a new program “Lead The Change”.

Apply Now: http://youthallianceofindia.org/lead-the-change/apply-now/  (Last Date 28 February)

Presentation: http://bit.ly/zCCbGf

“There is no passion to be found playing small – in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living.” – Nelson Mandela

Lead The Change (LTC) is dedicated to developing social leaders; well-rounded youngsters who are equipped with leadership skills to solve the challenges faced by their communities. Its core aim is to ignite young hearts with holistic concern for their society and nation.

LTC  Program will involve upto 30 youngsters in a six week  program. The program will expose them to pressing issues of our societies such as human dignity, education and rural immersion. They will study solutions offered by role models, personalities and get a short experience in leadership education. They will be expected to apply this experience to come up with solution for a small local issue and in the process, understand how to set up an enterprise. They will emerge with the wealth of a rich network and a sound understanding of systemic social change.

LTC’s Core Purpose:

Youth wants to contribute but often finds it hard to figure out the right way to go about it.  We believe that by exposing passionate young people to these issues and giving them opportunities to interact with role models, we can sensitize them and sow a seed deep in their hearts.  It will also help them in making informed choices of how they shape their future.

  • It will change the outlook of young people towards issues surrounding them and enhance their skills and knowledge to address them
  • It will provide the young with the ability to seek holistic long term solutions and provide them great alternate career choices
  • Turn the direction of conversation among youth groups  from mere discussion of problems to solution oriented talks, and eventually action oriented plans
  • Develop a pool of social leaders and build a strong network
  • Create a community of youth who could serve as role model for their contemporaries
  • Inspire  to act, cause attitudinal shift in mindset

About Youth Alliance:

Youth Alliance is an organization working with a vision to “Connect EACH Youth With a Cause”. We believe in the philosophy of sensitizing young people towards the society by showing them the real picture and connecting them to ground reality.We also have a range of programmes like “Samarpan”;”Come Alive” meant to create awareness as well as bring change in society.  It is an initiative of a  Teach For India alumni from 2009 batch.

Apply Now: http://youthallianceofindia.org/lead-the-change/apply-now/

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I would like to share with you about  “Youth Alliance” (http://youthallianceofindia.org/) (Click like on Fan Page and do promote us, we need your support) with a mission to “Connect each Youth with a Cause”. The idea of one of its initiative, “Samarpan” came to my mind nearly one year back. Being a Teach For India fellow I got a chance to be with the community,see, feel and be a part of their lives. Two years in classroom and community gave me a very clear picture of what is the basic need at ground level. At that time I thought to start a program that can connect youth and cause together and eventually raise their emotional quotient for the society because one can’t know the real picture till when he/she has been there on ground to feel it. Books and movies gives the perception of the author and direction of the director. If one wants to know the real picture he/she has to be on ground with the people and be a part of their lives.

What we are trying to do ?   (About Samarpan) (Register Now: http://youthallianceofindia.org/volunteer/)

Youth Alliance has come up with this initiative with a dual objective of providing human resources (volunteers at the beginning stage) to NGOs and at the same time raising the emotional quotient of the youth who are still under the shackles of ignorance which eventually will enable them to be a change maker in the long run. The idea behind the initiative is to make each youth contribute to the social development of the country. As it has been seen that today’s youth is aware and has a will to give back to society in a corner of their heart… BUT there is a section of youth who is still unaware of the gravity of all social issues from poverty to illiteracy to Corruption and some who are aware do not get the right platform to contribute to the Nation Building… We believe that the ground level exposure at an NGO will help them in understanding the magnitude of the social issues/ concerns our country is facing today and thus will in due course make them realize the need of the hour.

Philosophy of Change:

We believe that by coming in contact with the under-served people and by being there in the moments of pain or joy, we can look forward to augment their lifestyles. This initiative provides the young people of our country with the opportunities to have their careers inclined past the welfare of the society and to have a look towards their life in a much more sensible way. Once they are out of their college, it provides them with the responsibility of being ‘Agents of Change’. As these volunteers have been a part of the community, they can empathize with them and help them in a significant way.

What else we are trying to do ?

Apart from this we are trying to setup a web-portal that will help youth to find their best fit in social sector, from education to employment:

  1. Fellowship (Collecting Information about all the credible fellowship models for youth )
  2. Youth Connect( Space where youth can find different NGOs working with youth across India)
  3. Budding Entrepreneurs (A section where in youth can share the crux of his business model and get feedback from different personalities who have a good exp. in social sector; also find mentor for himself, for this we are in talks with different social leaders and are asking them to adopt young entrepreneurs and nurture them to be the best)
  4. I Change (A section wherein youth can read about different rights which we have as the citizen of India and information about various govt. department; RTI, RTE, CVC, Passport Authority etc. )
  5. Careers  (This section would show different opportunity available in social sector)
  6. Social Consultancy

Now feel free to shoot questions, critically and constructively analyze the whole model and surely HELP   us grow!!!

No copyright anyone is free to copy the whole model !!!

And please, please ….click like on our Fan Page (http://www.facebook.com/changeagents), participate in discussion….share on your page and profile….promote us !!!

Together we CAN and WE Will !!!

– “Service before Self”

Prakhar Bhartiya

Fellow, TFI (2009-2011)

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There are many ways to be good and these days, some of the most noble people have assumed the manners of the business world — even though they don’t aim for profit. As Warren Buffet on his recent philanthropic visit to India said, “Part of life is to plant trees that other people will sit under. Somebody planted a tree for me long ago in the form of an education institution and I sat under that tree, metaphorically.”


It is a season of reckoning for Teach for India (TFI), the programme that dispatched 80 top college graduates and a few who had stints with top corporates to teach hard-to-staff low-income rural and urban schools in India. The first group’s two-year commitment is up, and the programme now faces expectations: can a small crop of bright and idealistic people with boot camp training help change India’s education system?


Shaheen Mistri, founder of TFI spills the beans on her ambitious goal. “Five years down the line, we plan to have 2,000 fellows (teachers) teaching 60,000 kids in 12 cities and their surrounding areas.” Though India’s literacy rate has touched 74 per cent according to the provisional results of the 2011 census, up from 65 per cent in 2001, this is still short of the target set by the Planning Commission to achieve a literacy rate of over 85 per cent by 2011-12. And the little steps taken by Shaheen and her fellows are surely a boon for a worried Planning Commission, whose members can now heave a sigh of relief.


Way to TFI fellowship 

Shaheen, who graduated in Sociology from St Xaviers College, Mumbai, and did her Master’s in Education from the University of Manchester, UK, feels that we have a model, which could have a real impact on the ways that all novice teachers in the country are recruited, selected, trained and supported. Selectivity of potential teachers, in fact, is a big part of the TFI brand. TFI fellows do not have to undergo the traditional credentialing process. They receive six weeks training and are given full responsibility for a classroom of students. Through GPA, the teachers’ ability to pursue and achieve goals is assessed.


Criteria include perseverance, achievement, and respect for others, says Shaheen who is also the founder of Akanksha, a non-profit organisation. Emphasising on the leadership role she says, “We desperately need people who are going to be visionary thinkers, set big goals and own the responsibility for meeting them. And it’s so much about that mindset and the instinct to remain optimistic in the face of a challenge.”


Catalyst of change


It’s very easy to confuse TFI with a similar sounding initiative by a media house — an assumption which the reporter was also guilty of making but was quickly corrected by the editor — but TFI has far loftier goals than the other project. It’s on the footsteps of Teach for America, the foundation laid by Wendy Kopp 20 years ago. It was interesting to read through the statistics, which revealed the growing popularity of TFI.


In 2008, it started with just 80 fellows but three years later, they are looking to recruit 300 fellows and expand their operation to other cities like New Delhi. The surge in popularity is more so because Shaheen has struck the right cord — tapping on youth idealism.


Earlier generations of benefactors thought that social service should be like sainthood or socialism. But TFI and its board of directors think it should be like a venture capital — they understand that government alone cannot be innovative. A 1,000 different private groups have to try new things. Then we measure to see what works.


The impact


While interacting with the first batch of the fellows (they graduate on April 16) in their dingy, cramped schools, the reporter was captivated by their overtones of ideals and pluck. The moment the door opened to TFI fellow Prakhar Mishra’s class, there was inquisitiveness in the eyes of the third-graders. In a disciplined manner, the reporter was bombarded with as many questions as their curious mind could think of. Surprisingly, every question they asked was in English. It was not the same a year back. English was alien to them.


Reading out the scores from his laptop, Prakhar, a 25-year-old BTech from RKGIT, Ghaziabad, says, “The time I moved in here, these third-graders were at Pre-KG level. There has been a 300 per cent jump in their scores. The average grade score has gone up from 10 words/ minute to 42 words/ minute and surely there are exceptions of a score of 100 words/ minute.”


Here we have an aspiring politician, who at present will be joining NIIT Foundation and believes that an exposure at the grass-roots level is a stepping stone towards his bigger objective. “When you have everything that you possibly could need and other people need what you have and has enormous use to them, I think you need to do something about it,” he says.


Not a ‘cushy’ job


Though for Madhumita Subramanian, a graduate in economics from the University of Warwick, moving from her comfort zone was not as easy as it seems now. But in the two years she has realised, “If one can be successful in captivating a six-year-old and get them to do what you want, a boardroom should not be difficult.” The glory is there at 23 and she knows this is where she always wanted to be the moment she had her hands on the advertisement that said, “fellows with the brightest mind and biggest heart, who also wants to pursue rural social entrepreneurship…”


Education crisis


If today’s millions aren’t being educated well, how will they get proper jobs tomorrow? Won’t the education crisis translate into a far scarier job crisis in a few years? Parents with low-incomes value every pair of hands more than sending a child to a substandard school for several years, the benefits of which are unclear… these are some of the arguments that forced 80 youngsters to plunge into teaching kids in government schools for two years.


Voicing his thoughts on the challenges in the present education system, 25-year-old Saurabh Taneja, an IITian who will be joining the NGO Avsara as a programme manager, says, “I would say that the quality of teaching is probably the single most important factor in predicting student success. Of course, there are a myriad of factors that impede student achievement, but in a bad school with no textbooks and crowded classrooms, a really good teacher can surely be a catalyst of change.”


Unconventional pedagogical tools


Twenty-six-year-old executive from GE, Sana Gabula’s style of teaching is inquiry-based. Because her students’ literacy skills were so low, she rarely referred to the textbook. Instead, she used hands-on labs to lead her kids to discovery. She glided from task to task with ease, handling behavioural issues with equanimity and presenting new scientific concepts with childlike delight. And by the year-end, the kids were tricked into learning.


Gabula who will be joining Mckinsey post the fellowship programme says, “The most important thing I got out of the whole experience was that the children I worked with can definitely learn and succeed, regardless of how painful, traumatic or wonderful their lives may be. There is a ‘magical sense of belief’ that reaching to 200 million children definitely requires perseverance but surely not a daunting task.”


Memorable experiences


TFI has surely changed their lives is evident from the fact that an overwhelming 65 per cent of the fellows are set to join the social sector, of which 20 per cent wish to stay back and work with TFI. Of the 13 per cent who will join the corporate sector, some have opted for corporate social responsibility. Others will return to the companies which they were in before TFI, and still others want to pursue further studies.


Treasure lies where your heart belongs, and the treasure was the journey itself, the discoveries they made, and the wisdom they acquired. Vaibhav Mathur, a 25-year-old alumnus of Jaypee Institute of Information Technology, is slated to join Godrej’s CSR cell as a senior executive. A fellow at Divine Child School says, “Teach for India was life changing. I might not end up being an educator — at this point — but down the line, years from now, I know I would care about the achievement gap when 95 per cent of the world will not.”


Learning leads to knowledge, knowledge to creativity, and creativity to self-empowerment. Inducing this thought in a child’s mind is the work of a teacher and these fellows were definitely one of them.

By :

Pallavi Priyadarshini

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As I am writing this note I would just hope that I don’t read about one more scandal in our country tomorrow morning. Inefficient government, corrupt politician and bureaucrats, selfish business houses, inflation at its peak and dying common man. This is the situation of our country.

Things need to be changed but how, who will do it? The onus is on us but it is very hard for a young passionate Indian to think of a change and get started with it. I was lucky enough to get this opportunity. Teach For India gave me a platform where I can work at the bottom of pyramid, work with hundreds of other passionate, committed youth.

Not only I, my close ones also feel tremendous personal transformation in me over this period of fellowship. Today rather than just debating over a problem, I feel like providing or finding a solution to it, I feel myself to be more a responsible and proactive citizen. The classroom and the community has been a testing laboratory for me, there is a great deal of learning here. A simple thing is that if I need to find a solution to the problems of the half a billion Indians, I need to have spent time with them, seen them closely and should have the ability to connect to them. An elite who has been to such places only after a disaster or any natural calamity can’t give solution to their problems because he can’t connect to them. My classroom and community gave me the opportunity to learn more about them and strengthened my personal belief towards being a part of the political system.

Working in a government school for two years has helped me a lot to understand how the government system is made dysfunctional. Education which is one of the root causes of our nation’s problem is given least importance in a school. Today I can say that in most of the government school where the focus should be its student, the focus is on completing attendance register and the students are the last item in their priority list. Here I would like to share an incident from my class. One of my “Superstar” Shahid was categorised as mentally challenged by the school authorities and I was told about it during the beginning of the academic year. I tried to notice him and yes he behaved in some unusual manner, he was a very quite child but always had a big cheeky smile on his face. What I found over a couple of months was that he lacked in self confidence and was afraid of people around him. I had many one to one conversations with him, met his family and went out for partying with him. The change was evident, I used to praise him for his smallest accomplishment in classroom, he started gaining confidence and one day I told the longest word in English language in class and Shahid was the first one to spell it correctly. This was the day when he really gained his confidence and I was the happiest teacher on planet. In the next term examination he secured 13th rank in class and I believe that in future he would be a different person due to this gain in confidence. This is the story of one such Shahid and there are many more such Shahids in Indian classrooms who need the right direction and some love. There are many such stories of transformation which I have witnessed in my classroom and I feel blessed to be a teacher because these small smiles give me the confidence to move ahead and take the bigger challenge.

The level of confidence that I have in me is immense, now I believe that yes “I Can” be the difference because I have seen things changing. Personal transformation is not a small thing, it happens only when something challenges your belief every day, breaks you down and that happens in a classroom ever day. I love being in my classroom, my real life experimental lab where my kids are my teacher, teaching me the important lessons of life before I take the bigger challenge.

Thanks “Superstars: The Leaders of Tomorrow” and thanks “TFI Family”….!!!

“Service before Self”

– Love Prakhar Bhartiya

Writer is a pioneer batch(2009) fellow in TFI. He is a Gandhian, budding politician, a social entrepreneur and an agent of change. Follow him on:  http://www.prakharbhartiya.blogspot.com/

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This is what I wrote answering a question in a recent survey:

What do you most enjoy about the (Teach For India) Fellowship experience?

1. The intensity of the experience
2. What it teaches me about the most important challenge facing India (educational inequity) I am fighting this challenge every single day.
3. The children, their innocent, unconditional love and the progress (often inch by inch) that I see in them.
4. The wonderful people who I got to know through the fellowship and the continued association with them.
5. The transformation that I have undergone since May and the constant reflection and questioning of myself. What mattered so much earlier does not matter anymore to me and what never mattered is ALL that matters to me now and I often am astonished at myself for that.
6. That I am able to contribute to building the movement in ways beyond the classroom, while maintaining my work in the classroom as a foundational centre point.
7. How the fellowship has enabled me to continuously seek excellence in everything I do.
8. Beginning to understand the immensely interesting, complex, creative and important role of teaching and how gradually ‘Teaching as Leadership’ starts making sense.
9. How I am able to better appreciate and celebrate what my mother did for me and brother. Every single struggle and failure reminds me of her own when she tried to give us the education that would break the cycle of poverty.


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October is the birth month of the father of our Nation and the man who has influenced TFI’s theory of change in no small way. “BE THE CHANGE” said Mahatma Gandhi and we devote this month to TFI staff, fellows and students and who are living those words and being the change. The very first post comes from Shashank bhaiya and Sandeep bhaiya and their students’ amazing and inspiring effort in Being the change.

The idea of “Every Child an Entrepreneur” came about when the kids desired changes in their school (Sunrise English School) in the form of computer education. Since the school did not have funds for a computer, the kids initially decided to raise fund by donation but coming from low income communities, they were able to raise only 3K which was not sufficient to buy a computer. Despite the set-back, the children turned it into an opportunity by coming up with a brilliant idea to organize themselves in interest groups and work over Saturdays to produce artefacts for a Fun fair using the initial 3K as seed money. The idea was that they wanted to create a market where they could sell their goods and hopefully raise enough funds for a computer.

On 2nd October 2010, the Sunrise Team organized SUNFESTA FUN FAIR!! The Fun Fair was Phase 2 of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur” program wherein the school children tried to raise funds for buying a school computer; from a fun filled event featuring games, prizes, music, delicious food and art+crafts made exclusively by the kids over the past few weeks. The event was a huge success with more than 20 stalls put up by the students attracting more than 1000 visitors. The event made a profit of 13K which was enough to buy a computer as was the original objective of the “Every Child an Entrepreneur”.

Watch the video for SUNFESTA FUN FAIR!!

The most heartening aspect though is the fact that it has given the kids the confidence of “I CAN” and they are already planning for a larger “Annual Event”  with the objective of raising funds for a water purification unit in school. As was apt on occasion of 2nd October, “The Children became the CHANGE they want to see in the world”

The school submitted this project to the Design for Change Contest. Here’s wishing the young entrepreneurs all the best!

Shashank Shukla and Sandeep Mallareddy are two Teach for India fellows from the 2010 cohort, committed to ending educational inequity in India. They work in a low-income community private school in Pune called Sunrise English School.

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