From the President’s Desk
Dear Asha supporter,
2015 was a strong year for Asha for Education (Asha). This was the year we were recognized with the ‘Social Impact Award’ in the International category by the Times of India and regained the highest rating of a 4-star charity on the rating service Charity Navigator. We reached upwards of 173,000 children in 2015 through 170 unique projects across 20 states in India. Our program expenses increased to $2.96 million with revenues of $3.2 million. 95% of our revenues were from contributions, grants and other donations and 97% of our expenses were towards our projects. The numbers highlight what we have always acknowledged – that Asha continues today thanks to the donors who have supported us for 24 years (& counting!) and to the tireless community of volunteers who work to keep our overheads to a minimum so that most of these donations go towards their intended beneficiaries.
Our partnerships with NGOs working on the issues in India remain strong and these committed project partners have been recognized locally and nationally for their efforts. Some of the project partners and the recognitions they have received have been highlighted in this annual report.
Events held at Asha chapters are targeted not only for fundraising, but also to raise awareness about issues of socio-economic inequity in India. Chapters organized concerts and shows featuring local talent and national groups, organized talks, slideshows and movie screenings for awareness and set up stalls at various events to spread the message of Asha. Many chapters organized celebrations such as Holi, Dandiya and Bhangra. The immensely successful ‘Team Asha’ program trained aspiring athletes around the country towards their target half and full marathon runs, mountain climbs, bike rides and triathlons. Many 5k/10k runs, cricket and volleyball tournaments were among the events enjoyed by all. Some chapters also reached out to their local supporters in person through donor appreciation dinners and banquet fundraisers.
Challenges remain due to Asha’s nature as a fully volunteer-run and managed organization. Volunteer bandwidth can fluctuate – and as a result, a few of our chapters have gone dormant or closed while newer chapters have started in other locations. However, volunteer momentum is on the uptick and we have more than 50 active chapters across the US, Canada, Europe and India – energized towards our mission to catalyze socio-economic development of the underprivileged in India. Internally, we have revamped our organizational processes to be more resilient towards such volunteer bandwidth fluctuations.
On behalf of all volunteers across the globe, I thank you for your support and hope that it will continue for years to come.
Important events of 2015
Asha wins the Social Impact Award
April 20, 2015
We are delighted to announce that Asha for Education has been awarded the ‘2015 Times of India Social Impact Award’ in the International Category.
Social activist Aruna Roy, jury member at the Social Impact Awards, said: “Asha has Indians abroad doing something for the country. They collect small amounts from people concerned about the marginalized and the poor, and offer finance and fellowships. There are only two institutes I know that are working from abroad, Asha is one of them. It’s a commendable way of helping India.”
Read the announcement on the Times of India website here.
Following this announcement, many of Asha’s project partners voiced their enthusiastic congratulatory messages.
Top Rating On Charity Navigator
February 4, 2015
From 2004 to 2010, Asha had a 4-star rating (the highest) on the rating website Charity Navigator. We’ve now regained the 4-star rating – an external validation to all our supporters and volunteers of our quality work. Tell me more…
Asha-partner Wins NGO of the Year
August 25, 2015
Long time Asha project partner, Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement (SVYM) beat 300 other NGOs for the top spot at the India NGO Awards 2014-2015. The award was organized by Resource Alliance and sponsored by EdelGive Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation. It honors NGOs adopting good standards and practices.
Asha has worked with SVYM right from the time they set up their tribal school in the middle of a forest to their current initiative to improve education in all government schools in H.D. Kote taluk of Karnataka. We have always admired their commitment, professionalism, and constant innovation.
Over the years, we have contributed over $470,000 to their programs, including seed funding for initiatives that have blossomed into successful projects. We wholeheartedly congratulate them on their achievement and wish them the very best.
Asha and project partners win a $100K grant From Oracle
June 24, 2015
In June 2015, Oracle granted Asha and two project partners $100,000 to expand three innovative schemes in three regions of India. We are proud to be selected as an Oracle partner to improve science and math teaching in government schools, more so because we believe this is critical towards the equitable spread of quality education.
Asha turned 24 in 2015. Asha-24, the biennial Asha conference, brought together many of our chapters to discuss issues and learn from each other. It was held at the University of Florida in Gainesville over the weekend of July 25-26.
Asha-24 hosted a number of prominent guests, including Anurag Behar (CEO, Azim Premji Foundation), the plenary speaker; Ravi Kuchimanchi (Founder & Jeevansaathi, Association for India’s Development, i.e., AID), who delivered the keynote address; Aravinda Pillalamarri (Jeevansaathi, AID), who spoke on education and socio-economic inequality in India; and Adhik Kadam (Founder, Borderless World Foundation and long-time partner). Mr. Behar’s and Ms. Pillalamarri’s addresses are summarized below.
An important focus was volunteers and their thoughts. A number of volunteers from different chapters shared their insights on vital topics, such as the current state of education in India, what works (and what does not) in education, and volunteer motivation. The conference also featured a poster session about different chapters’ projects and activities.
Complex Questions, Hard Choices
Many challenging strategic questions came up at Asha-24. As illustrative examples, here are addresses of two of our guests.
By Anurag Behar
Anurag Behar is CEO of Azim Premji Foundation (APF), Vice Chancellor of Azim Premji University and Chief Sustainability Officer of Wipro. He has been closely involved with efforts to improve education in India for the last 11 years and has forcefully advocated of the importance of the public education system. He delivered the plenary talk at Asha-24 via video-conference. Recording available here.
Anurag’s talk focused on 3 major areas: APF’s journey; their learnings; and what they believe to be fundamentally important to education. Read more here.
Education and Inequality
By Aravinda Pillalamarri
Aravinda Pillalamarri is the Development Coordinator at AID. She has worked with people fighting for social justice in India since 1998. Her focus is on raising awareness on fair trade and sustainable livelihoods, women and child health and empowerment. She raised a lot of insightful questions during her address at Asha-24.
Aravinda’s talk focused on a vision of ‘development for all’ and critical questions to be addressed through our educational system. Read more about her thoughts during the conference in her own words here.
Asha Around India
We work with over 200 projects across India, dealing with a spectrum of educational issues from pre-primary schooling in remote villages to professional education in city slums. We present a few examples here to show the range of projects we support.
See here for more
Here we present a project from a partner’s perspective to give an idea of the successes achieved despite significant challenges.
Avehi Abacus – The Journey
By Simantini Dhuru
Tribal Empowerment Project
The Butterfly Edufields initiative at The Tribal Empowerment Project School in Manipur offered hands-on learning aids to enhance children’s conceptual understanding of science and math. The learning-by-doing programs are aimed at students from 1st to 10th grades and completely map to the CBSE curriculum, ensuring concepts are learned for life. Read more.
(Asha Zurich, Atlanta & Redlands)
SACSAS Academy provides quality education and healthcare for free. The education program is aimed at children in villages who cannot travel to state-run schools. Its first unit opened in 2003 and it now runs five schools educating 500 children. Asha Zurich financially supports its school in New Dampi and administers its Loilamkot and Wangoo schools. Read more.
Bhagwati Sarla Paliwal Education Society
BSPES’s school was started by the Paliwal family in 1986 to educate and empowers girls of Jattari, a small town in Aligarh district. Agriculture is the main livelihood there and daughters are sent to work in the fields rather than to school: Sons are educated, though. Read more.
This school for mentally challenged children was started in 1998 by Asha Toledo project partner T. Prema in rural Rajapalayam (near Sivakasi). Through years of painstaking hard work, she transformed this school from a little operation with just two students to a concrete building with 67 students, almost all of whom come from extremely poor families who cannot afford to take care of their special needs, leave alone pay school fees. Read more.
Volunteers from Asha chapters visit supported projects from time to time, to reinforce bonds, see the functioning of projects directly, understand problems and carve out solutions. We present a site report here, to emphasize the importance of face-to-face contact.
Seva Chakkra Samaj
By Dileep Bhat, Asha NYC/NJ
By Asha Seattle
While site visits, reports from project partners and interactions with the projects form the basis of assessing progress at a project, some chapters use an external, impartial evaluator to visit the project and provide valuable feedback. Snippets from one such report is available here.
Asha Chapters around the world hosted more than 100 events in 2015 ranging from talks and film screenings to marathon and triathlon training programs.
The chart above shows the distribution of the types events conducted by Asha chapters in 2015. Many chapters organized concerts and shows featuring local talent including chapters at Berkeley, Yale, Danbury, Colorado and Princeton. Talks, slideshows, movie screenings and other awareness events were conducted at Boston/MIT, San Francisco & Asha @ University of Virginia and Univerity of Georgia chapters among others. Volunteers at Purdue, University of Florida (UFlorida) and Atlanta setup stalls at various events to spread the message of Asha. Many chapters including Stanford, Research Triangle Park (RTP) and University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) organized celebrations such as Holi, Dandiya and Bhangra. The immensely successful ‘Team Asha’ program trained aspiring athletes around the country towards their target half-marathons, marathons, mountain climbs, bike rides and triathlons. The largest ‘Team Asha’ programs continue to be run by Seattle and Silicon Valley – while programs at Austin, Atlanta, UFlorida and San Francisco got stronger this year. 5k/10k runs, cricket and volleyball tournaments were among the events enjoyed by all at Detroit, Hartford, Dallas, Chicago etc. Some chapters such as NYC/NJ, Minnesota, Cornell and St. Louis also thanked their donors in person during their donor appreciation dinners and banquet fundraisers.
Photo descriptions are top->bottom; L->R;
Column 1: Bowling night at Asha Chicago; Happy volunteers at Asha Stanford after a successful Holi; Participants at an Asha Zurich running event
Column 2: P. Sainath addressing a packed house at Asha Stanford; Asha Boston/MIT volunteers at India Day celebrations, Worcester, MA.
Column 3: Volunteers at Asha RTP after Holi; Bikers from Asha Silicon Valley at the start of a 100mi race; Volunteers of Asha NYC/NJ with Mrs. Indra Nooyi after the ‘Evening of Hope‘ fundraiser; Asha UGa at Athens volunteers after a Raas event; Volunteers and family at Asha St. Louis’ event ‘Tarang’
The figures above show a summary of Asha for Education’s finances in 2015. Donations and contributions totalled $3.03M out of a total of $3.206M in total support. Program expenses accounted for $2.956M of the $3.046M of expenses. See details here.
Questions? Contact treasurer AT ashanet DOT org.
Board of Directors
President: Pradeep Jayaraman (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Secretary: Harendra Guturu (email@example.com)
Treasurer: Uttaraa Diwan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director, Projects: Anant Jani (email@example.com)
Director, Fundraising: Prasad Pabbati (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Director, Web: Madhav Lakkapragada (email@example.com)
Director, PR: Navya Chitimireddy (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Annual Report Team
Thanks to Vandana Sharma for her work on the Annual Report presentation. Thanks to all volunteers who contributed articles, photographs and other content for the Annual Report. Thanks to Venkatesh Iyengar and Uttaraa Diwan for proofreading the contents. We would also like to thank every member of Asha for Education for their valuable inputs and suggestions.
- Make A Tax-Deductible Donation: Asha for Education is registered with IRS under Section 501(c)(3). You can make a tax-exempt donation here.
- Volunteer: We always need people for general coordination, project coordination, events coordination, publicity, fundraising, web designing and so on. Contact us or connect with your local chapter.
- Sign Up for the Registry of Hope: Make Asha a part of special occasions in your and your dear ones’ by creating wedding, birthday and other event registries at registryofhope.org
- Support Asha While Shopping: See smile.amazon.com/ch/77-0459884
- Introduce Us to Your Company and Community: Put us in touch with the people in charge of your company’s matching program; speak about us in your community yourself or invite a volunteer to do so.