Tag Archives: Education

Three university presidents, one shared entrepreneurial vision

Earlier this year I had the occasion to attend the AshokaU Exchange being held on the sunny Arizona State University campus in Tempe. The day and a half of packed conference schedule culminated in a dinner panel of three university presidents, each a giant in his field.

The dinner panel brought into sharp focus the challenges facing our higher education system and the three different but equally innovative approaches taken by each of the colleges. Continue reading

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12 wonderful wishes you can share for 2012

As we tick down another year and look back at all the milestones of the past year and plan for the next, it is time to also consider some of the wonderful organizations that are making an impact around the world.

Here is my list of a dozen that are making a difference in no particular order. Most of them are young organizations that are just getting started and an opportunity for you to get involved and help them on their way.

  • Greentown Labs http://greentownlabs.org/ An incubator for clean technology ventures that allows entrepreneurs to get down and dirty constructing their next generation green machines. Setup as a nonprofit and collaborative, Greentown provides a unique location for startups that need to build stuff.
  • Sol Solution http://www.sol-solution.org/ A nonprofit that helps underprivileged schools to save on expenses by installing solar solutions to offset their electricity expenses.
  • Social Capital http://www.socialcapitalinc.org/  Social Capital inc has worked over the past 10 years to strengthen communities by connecting diverse individuals, neighbors and organizations and bringing them together through civic initiatives
  • ABAN http://www.aban.org/ Is a young organization that I came across during a visit to University of North Carolina that was started by a team of passionate students that works with the street girls of Accra to help them learn a trade, make a living, and secure a future as well as helping them transform their city into a healthier environment.
  • Space with a soul http://www.spacewithasoul.org/ is another innovative nonprofit that provides shared office space and services to nonprofits. A great landing place for emerging nonprofits as they get started.
  • Peace First http://www.peacefirst.org/site/ Peacefirst works to build a safe and productive environment at schools by teaching students the skills of conflict resolution and civic engagement.
  • Samarthanam http://www.samarthanam.org/ Samarthanam is a nonprofit registered in India and the US that provides quality education, accommodation, nutritious food, vocational training to help empower the visually impaired, disabled and underprivileged in India. It runs a free middle school for underprivileged youth including the visually handicapped.
  • Merrimack Valley Sandbox http://www.uml.edu/mvsandbox/default.html Launched in 2010 November by the Deshpande Foundation, the Merrimack Valley Sandbox works with students in the Lowell/Lawrence area through partnerships with colleges and community organizations to build leadership and entrepreneurship within the Merrimack Valley.
  • LifeCity http://mylifecity.com/  LifeCity helps encourage green businesses in Louisiana through its membership organization where customers get discounts to green businesses and products and green businesses certified by LifeCity get greater visibility and support from LifeCity members.
  • Peacetones  http://peacetones.org  Peacetones supports talented, unknown artists from developing nations build their careers while giving back to their communities.
  • Vision Aid http://visionaid.org/ VisionAid works to help people with visually related disabilities in underserved areas to lead a life of independence and dignity.
  • Ummeed http://ummeed.org/ is a nonprofit that works with children with developmental disabilities in Mumbai and is one of the few that helps bring professional support to this segment of society in India.

Samarthanam: a vision for the future for the visually disabled

I recently had the opportunity to host an amazing group of people visiting from India. The Sunadha dance troupe, part of the Samarathanam Trust for the Disabled based in Bangalore was visiting Boston. We had the opportunity to see them perform at the Sri Lakshmi Temple where the visually disabled dancers performed an amazingly choreographed set of dances.
Dancers from Sunadha troupe

Dancers from Sunadha troupe

  

 

  

Samrathanam was founded by Mahantesh, who is also visually disabled, to help provide opportunities for deserving, young, and talented children with disability of any form, or from marginalized economic backgrounds. Over the years they have built a school that provides education for over 600 disabled children and is designed to meet the needs of the physically challenged.     Continue reading

Help select a winning teen social entrepreneur

Ashoka Youth Venture and Best Buy Children’s Foundation have teamed up to create the @15 Community Impact Challenge. Ashoka is known around the world as the institution that coined the term social entrepreneurship and has been actively supporting social entrepreneurs for nearly 30 years. Ashoka’s Youth Venture works to encourage this spirit of innovation and social entrepreneurship in young people. With Ashoka’s Youth Venture’s support youngsters design and launch their own social ventures to target social issues and challenges.

The Best Buy Children’s Foundation hopes to empower teens at the most critical time of their lives – early adolescence. Its @15 programs provide teens with a platform to affect social change. @15 working together with Ashoka’s Youth Venture has created the Community Impact Challenge. Youth teams from around the nation applied to enter the competition. A set of 15 finalists was chosen based on an assessment of their potential for community impact and a vision of how they would create sustainable change. Continue reading

Akanksha – engaging children in education

Akanksha Classroom

Typical Akanksha Classroom

Last year we had the chance to host Vandana Goyal and Ruchika Gupta from Akanksha when they visited Boston. Over the years we had heard of the wonderful work this NGO had been doing in India and it was great to hear about their plans for expansion when they presented to a small group of interested folks at MIT. When we decided to visit India around December, we made sure that we had set aside some time to visit Akanksha at one of their facilities.    

Twenty years ago, the first Akanksha center opened for children from the slum communities of Mumbai, an innovative after school program designed to provide them with fun, engaging learning opportunities. Founded by Shaheen Mistri at the age of 18, these centers develop children’s English language fluency as well as equip them to go on to college, attain a good job and become change agents in their communities. Today, over 80% of Akanksha children go on to college to begin professional careers compared to only 30% of Indian children who successfully complete the 10th grade.     Continue reading