With more than 600 million residents under the age of 25, India is home to the world’s largest youth population. The potential of their collective energy to catalyze change is an opportunity we can’t ignore. But the daily challenges they face are steep. Children with multiple risk factors—belonging to an ethnic minority, living in a slum or rural area, having a disability—are the least likely to have access to the care, education, and training they need to become productive adults. Girls are especially at risk: nearly half of all girls marry before age 18, and gender-based violence is unfortunately common.
With over 20 years of experience in grassroots grantmaking, we know that innovative leaders across India are tackling these problems at their roots. We scout for nascent organizations with bold ideas to meet children’s needs and engage them as leaders of the future. We make sure these organizations have the funding, coaching, and connections that give their ideas a chance to succeed.
Our work in India advances the rights of children and youth across four key focus areas: Education, Gender Equity, Youth Empowerment, and Freedom from Violence and Exploitation. Our partners address specific community challenges such as child trafficking, gender-based violence, youth employability, quality girl’s education, and access to education for children who have never before attended school.
FRC’s sole fundraising focus is to raise funds in India for use in India. Our 80G and 12A tax exempt status allows us to ensure that 50% of the donation amount (from gross total income) can be claimed back by donors. The work of FRC is overseen by a dedicated, influential and highly skilled volunteer Board. We are poised to build our domestic fundraising and programmatic capacity in India. Long-term, our objective is to support more India-based partners and co-design programs to engage children and youth to be the voice of change in their country.
In recent years, reports of brutal attacks against women and girls in India have made headlines, bringing attention to an issue that has deep roots in Indian society. Most violence occurs within families: husbands, fathers, and brothers feel legitimized by India’s traditional culture of gender discrimination.
Equal Community Foundation is creating a paradigm shift through a unique approach—starting with boys. While many organizations in India are working to protect women and girls, most focus on women’s empowerment. By working with boys and young men, ECF tackles gender-based violence at its root cause.
ECF’s innovative Action for Equality program trains male professionals with a background in youth work and places them as mentors in low-income communities. Over a period of several months, the mentors deliver a unique gender-equality curriculum to help boys discover their critical role in advancing the rights of women and girls. The boys receive coaching and guidance to address their own prejudices and behavior, and take part in trainings that teach them to lead community awareness projects.
Once training is complete, the boys take collective action, launching campaigns and events to reduce violence and discrimination in the community. They continue to engage with ECF through its alumni program, which allows the organization to remain in regular contact with graduates, sustain their positive behavior change, and provide opportunities for them to volunteer.
In 2017, ECF scaled up its model and expanded to West Bengal, partnering with 12 community-based organizations and training them to deliver the program throughout their communities.
In India, one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, there is an increasingly strong connection between English literacy and job opportunities. High-school math and science examinations, as well as entrance exams for professional degrees in such areas as medicine and engineering, are all conducted in English. Without English proficiency, rural youth see few opportunities for future success, and they often drop out of school as a result.
Recognizing the importance of English literacy in India’s growing economy, LeapForWord (LFW) uses a multipronged approach to increase English proficiency among rural children, thereby opening doors to success in school, work, and life. The organization offers English language instruction in schools across five districts in the state of Maharashtra and also runs two English learning centers that provide English language lessons, as well as training for older youth so that they can become English teachers themselves. Communities nominate local youth for the teaching program, and LFW then offers them English lessons while simultaneously training them to teach English to younger children. LFW’s curriculum and methodology—which focus on having students understand the process of reading, rather than relying on rote learning—have been proven to work in completely English-illiterate environments.
LFW has trained more than 2,000 teachers and nearly 12,000 students to date and is on track to create India’s first English-literate village at Shipur, Maharashtra.
In recent years, the city of Noida has rapidly industrialized, attracting migrant workers. Migrant families and children (especially those without documents) are often denied education, public services, social protection, and healthcare. Acquiring documentation is difficult and is often too expensive for migrant families to manage on their limited means. As a result, these children are excluded from the basic services they need to be safe, healthy, and educated.
Social and Development Research and Action Group (SADRAG) provides a lifeline to migrant children in Noida, including child laborers and children living on the streets. Through its Ugta Suraj program, SADRAG runs five learning and support centers across the city, serving migrant children who have either dropped out of or never attended school. Through an academic curriculum and extracurricular activities, SADRAG helps children to build a variety of skills and prepare for formal school.
Using a community approach, SADRAG succeeds in enrolling children in local government schools by providing organizational endorsements to overcome the lack of legal documentation. Once the children transition to formal schools, Ugta Suraj’s centers provide academic support to ensure that the children stay on track.
SADRAG recently renovated a government primary and middle school in Noida and installed a safe drinking water station, which provided 600 children with potable water and a safe school environment.
A pioneer in its field, Kolkata Sanved uses dance movement therapy as an alternative approach to recovery and healing for the most marginalized members of society. Through its groundbreaking model, called Sampurnata (“fulfillment” in Bengal), survivors of trafficking and violence release trauma, develop confidence, and identify their own potentials as human beings—rather than as victims.
Kolkata Sanved’s Dance Movement Therapy workshops allow survivors to develop specific life-skills important for their reintegration into mainstream society. The organization also works with at-risk groups, using dance as a tool to improve children’s mental health and overall well-being. These programs are carried out in a variety of contexts, meeting children where they are—whether at childcare institutions, at school, in redlight districts, on railway platforms, or in urban slums.
A fundamental principle underlying the Sampoornata model is that survivors can become healers—participants are given the opportunity to evolve into Dance Movement Therapy practitioners. In this way, they become agents of change in their communities, creating an incredible cycle of transformation.
Ashoka fellow Sohini Chakraborty, the founder and director of Kolkata Sanved, fused her years of training in dance and theater with her background in sociological research to establish dance movement therapy as a path to recovery and healing.
Global Fund for Children (GFC) UK Trust, created in 2006, is a UK registered charity (UK charity number 1119544). We work to generate vital income, create new fundraising opportunities, and raise awareness of the invaluable work of GFC’s grassroots grantees. Our aim is to extend the reach of GFC in the United Kingdom, Europe, and beyond.
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