Hippocampus Reading Foundation - Learning Center

Project Brief: Hippocampus Reading Foundation - Learning Center is a self sustaining, after-school rural supplemental education centers
Project Type: Non-Formal Educational Centers (description)
Primary Focus: to go to formal school (description)

Secondary Focus: remedial education

Area: Rural
Supporting Chapter Contact: St. Louis
Status: completed - sustainable
Project Steward: Anjana Mohan
Project Partner(s): Lily Paul
Other Contacts: Pradeep Jayaraman
Project Address: , 227, 6th Cross, ST bed area,Koramangala (Behind Maharaja Hotel),Bangalore,
Tel: 961-112-8163
Stewarding Chapter: St. Louis
Feb 2016St. LouisUSD 17261
Jun 2014St. LouisUSD 16384
May 2014StanfordUSD 11976
Oct 2013StanfordUSD 10937
May 2013St. LouisUSD 12463
Aug 2012St. LouisUSD 10670
Jul 2011St. LouisUSD 6043

Total = $85734

Asha supports the one-time investment in self-sustaining supplemental education centers in rural areas across North-West and North-Central Karnataka. These centers focus on Early Childhood Education (Pre-K, LKG & UKG).

HLC's goal is to open more and more such centers across rural India. As of mid 2015, HLC has 243 total centers and looking to open 30-50 more by the end of 2015.

Donors please note the attractive features of this project:
- One-time investments that goes a long way, with a
- Huge impact on each village potentially forever

The village center that YOU can help fund and set-up
- will become the community hub of activity and family engagement.
- Up to 40 children will be impacted every single year for the rest of their lives, and
- will impact a wide network of their families and their entire village.
- The woman teacher will be catapulted into an empowered, connective and leadership role in her community, and become
- a role model for children, peers, women AND men.

Asha St. Louis chose to focus on the KG centers in order to support early childhood learning to make lifelong learners who are appropriately prepared to succeed in formal schools. The KG group has proven to be a successful program with stable demand levels.

Asha funds the one-time set-up costs for each Early Childhood (PreKG / KG) center, which includes infrastructure, bags, uniforms, worksheets and curriculum materials, electric fittings, lights, mats, chalkboard etc.

As of 2014, Asha St. Louis included the cost of the 1st year of scholarship when funding a new center, as well as consider supporting the ongoing costs of scholarships each year for centers that were funded by the chapter.

Asha Stanford focused on HLC's innovative approach to curriculum and achieving learning objectives, specifically for the Middle School (PEC) group. Asha Stanford's “innovation” project funding helped the PEC program evolve its teaching and learning strategies and materials.

Investors like Asha provide the opportunity for work in “B” & “C” villages (Rural with 2,500 to 5,000 pop., Sub-office, 1 bank, 1 postal office), and also provide the incubation of ideas, ability to take risks, try things out and pave the way for larger investors when the concepts have matured adequately and ready for a scaling effort.

Children (of local agricultural workers, landowners or daily wage laborers) who are currently enrolled in Government (or other schools) enroll in the HLC programs to receive resources that supplements and transcends the learning they get at their formal schools. Some of the KG children are too young to have formal education alternatives yet, and the HLC program is an early childhood readiness towards formal education.

Women teachers provide supplementary education to 25 to 40 children per center. These supplementary education sessions run 3 hours outside of school hours 5-7 days of the week.

Local women are empowered as teachers, after a rigorous interview and seminar process. They are further trained to follow a creative curriculum and are provided ongoing support and materials by HRF / Hippocampus (the parent organization).

This selection & training program for teachers and the administration of the centers is funded separately. Furthermore, the administrative cost of the parent organization is also funded independently by ADB / Unitus / Acumen. See OTHER FUNDING under Additional Information).

Centers are organized geographically into "clusters", and local "Cluster Managers" manage and train the teachers, as well as administrate the centers and oversee its operations. The Cluster Managers (trainers and administrators) are part of the parent organization HRF, and are not paid through the Asha St. Louis funds.

Asha funds the one-time set-up costs for infrastructure and materials (see ASHA ENGAGEMENT & FUNDING)

Once the center opens, each child will pay a registration fee (Rs 500 for individual materials and a Hippocampus bag), as well as monthly fees (Rs 60 to Rs 120) each which forms the basis of the teacher's salary, and is the main way in which the Center sustains itself. About 10% of children per center (3 to 4) typically require scholarships to pay for their tuition.

Hippocampus has already had a tremendous and direct impact on over 9,000 students and has trained and employed 300 local women over 250 villages in rural Karnataka since inception.

Enrolling in school after UKG is mandatory with an apparent compliance of 98%.Thus 98% of children are enrolling in school (1st std).

Impact metrics are divided broadly into Operations / Center performance & Child Learning:

Operations / Center performance are being measured through
- Assessing teacher training
- Statistics of teacher selections
- Engagement of children through their consistency in fee payment
- Overall center performance
- Consistency in the maintenance & rental of the facilities
- Relationship of the teacher with the community / parents

Child Learning is currently being measured through:
- Learning levels of children through monthly assessments of learning outcomes
- 1 or 2 times a year surprise assessment test to compare to monthly assessments

Both types of metrics are using electronic tools that provide immediate feedback and the capability of immediate action. Child learning can be recorded by teachers and is automatically converted into a grade based on a weighted scale.

HLC is Putting together a more structured way to measure impact. Proof of impact is almost obvious given the context.

New initiative to perform a study with Gray-Matters-India (evaluation expert) & CIF (Childrens Investment Fund), Vardhanam (School Financing) to create a robust evaluation framework
HLC (Hippocampus Learning Centers) aims to
- kickstart the cycle of learning
- build cognitive, emotional and social skills at an early age
- create lifelong learners
- ensure that children stay at the level of learning appropriate for their age and classrooms
- facilitate children to get the most out of formal schools

Hippocampus's grass-roots strategy is to employ locals who are fluent with the context. In doing so, it empowers the local women who teach at these centers. Not only do these local women develop self confidence and pride as a result of their livelihoods as teachers, but also become integral to the community fabric with strong standing and influence.

Hippocampus has opened several pilot centers to test the operations, ability and reliability. They began their "pilot to scale" program in June 2010. Hippocampus continuously reviews lessons learned from each phase of "expansion" and uses the knowledge gained for their next phase.

Hippocampus is on an ambitious path to open 100,000 such centers across rural India by 2020, and address the needs of 3 million children.
Hippocampus was established in 2003 with the vision to "inspire children to want to read more". Although it was begun to promote reading among children, the original program has been subsumed as part of "Hippocampus Reading Foundation" (HRF) which operates primarily in the urban centers.

HRF creates and runs its own libraries and offers other organizations assistance and guidance in running their libraries more effectively. Programs developed by Hippocampus have been adopted by over 30 organizations, across more than 250 libraries in 4 states of India and been recognized by Govt. and non Govt. entities within and outside of India.

Hippocampus has expanded beyond promoting reading to the promotion of learning, through the establishment of Education centers in villages. (HLC = Hippocampus Learning Centers). Hippocampus' administrative operations in the field, and the Bangalore office staff are funded outside of Asha.

HLC’s initiatives (Note that their curriculum development was funded briefly as an innovation project by Asha Stanford).

- Creating curriculum and distributing / implementing this curriculum not only in HLC run centers, but also in Private (70+) and Government (~20) schools across the country (as far as Nagpur, with translation to Hindi) that have requested this successful curriculum.
- Educating Anganwadi women in the curriculum in rural areas
- Setting up test teams to handle the running of K-10 schools that have handed over themselves to HLC
- Creating and delivering training to both Teachers as well as Field and Oversight Staff.

HLC’s operational teams (in addition to the Curriculum & Training teams):
- CQ Team - (Center Acquisition) - Opens new centers, growth for new school partnerships & centers, selection of teachers etc.
- Learning Delivery - Running of centers & relationship with schools
- Support Team - IT, Finance, Accounting, Marketing etc.
- Materials team - Manages the procurement and distribution of educational tools and materials

Asian Development Bank Investment funds these functions. In the past these have been supported by Angel investors, Unitus and Acumen funds as well.

ADB anticipates a social development return with some consideration for future scale and profitability. It allows HLC to work on a 65-35 split, with 65% of their work allowed in smaller villages that may not return any profit and 35% in larger villages that must return a profit.

Without funding from “investors” like Asha, even the ADB funded development would gravitate towards profit making areas “D” villages (5k to 25k pop. with banks) or “E” townships (25,000+ pop. with municipality or Taluk HQ) or F District HQ.


Based on feedback and success factors over the years, HLC has refocused efforts on to the early childhood (Pre-KG & KG) & Middle School groups. Asha St. Louis is only funding the early childhood groups.

HLC tried opening centers in “A” villages (1,000-2,500 pop.) but based on 2010-2013 lessons, will not open centers in these villages:
- Not large enough for self-sustaining centers
- Number of children waxes and wanes.
- Needs 35-40 children x 3 class-years.

HLC overall focus is villages between 4,500 to 9,000 people = 800-1300 households.
- Good catchment areas for long term sustainability of centers.
- Leverages the impact.
- Children aged 3-6 are about 3-5% of the total population (135-450 children for size range)


In 2010 HLC began an ambitious pilot to scale program to set up supplementary education centers in rural areas. These centers are set up with a one-time funding, and then self sustains through fees charged to the children attending.

In 2011, Asha St. Louis began by funding 9 individual centers (= 3 “integrated” centers = each consisting of 1 Kindergarden group, 1 Middle School group (PEC), and 1 Coaching Center (CC) across 9 villages in Mandya, Davangere & Shimoga.

In 2013, The St. Louis chapter focused on KG centers due to HLC’s evolving strategy, and did not fund centers for the older children. At end of 2013, there were 15 Asha St. Louis funded centers (9 in Davangere, 6 in Mandya districts) in operation with 290 children.

In 2013, Asha Stanford began to support the Middle School Program's Math & English curriculum.

By mid-2015 Asha had funded 44 centers, of which 15 have been closed. HLC centers have now expanded across Karnataka.
Feb 2016 Chapter-voting-results
Jan 2016 2016-Jan-26-Rev-Asha-Proposal
Aug 2015 2015-Aug-20-QnA-Regarding-Proposal
Jul 2015 2015-July-9-Proposal
Jul 2015 2015-Jul-Scholarships-Asha-Centers-Dvg
Jul 2015 2015-Jul-Scholarships-Asha-Centers-Mandya
Jul 2015 2015-Jul-Scholarships-Asha-Centers-Shimoga
May 2015 2015-May-28-Conference-Call
Mar 2015 2015-Mar-Site-Visit-Report
Apr 2014 Proposal to Asha St Louis April 2014
Apr 2014 Stanford 2013-14 Pilot Report
Apr 2014 Stanford 2013 Half Yearly Review
Jan 2014 Proposal to St. Louis
Oct 2013 HLC - Stanford - Assessment
Oct 2013 Stanford Proposal 2013
Sep 2013 Site Visit Sept 2013
Jul 2013 20th July 2013 Site visit report
Jul 2013 20th July 2013 Photos from site visit
Jul 2013 Asha funded centers - 2013
Mar 2013 Project Proposal for the year 2013-2014
Aug 2012 Monthly meeting minutes to renew funding
Aug 2012 Aug 2012 Proposal (including video cost)
Aug 2012 08-18-12 Meeting Minutes with clarification
Aug 2012 Clarifications requested by Asha Central team
Jan 2012 Mid Term Update
Jan 2012 Mid term update KG tracker
Jan 2012 Mid term update QnA
Dec 2011 2011 Project Receipt
Jul 2011 Asha funded centers with locations
Jul 2011 2nd July 2011 Site Visit
Jul 2011 July 2011 Photos from site visit
Jul 2011 Contact Info for all project related people
Jul 2011 Funding breakdown for 9 centers and loans
Jul 2011 Funding Details & Center details - Village & Teacher Names
Jun 2011 Asha Project Proposal Questionnaire
Jun 2011 St. Louis Monthly Mtng Minutes to confirm funding
Jun 2011 Project concept, description & funding details
May 2011 Questions from Chapter with Answers
May 2011 Pilot centers (not Asha funded) teacher profiles
Dec 2010 FCRA
Jan 2010 80G - Certificate showing tax exempt donation status (India)