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Transforming the Lives of Less-Privileged Children in Urban India
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.

In 2007, inspired by the success of its centers and stories of charter schools such as KIPP in the United States, Akanksha began its initiative to transform schools in urban India by planting the seeds of the charter school movement in Mumbai and Pune. Today, Akanksha serves 3,500 children through its 57 centers and six schools.

We will be hosting Vandana Goyal, Director, The School Project, and Ruchika Gupta, Director, Centers, from the Akanksha Foundation on September 17th from 6.30 to 8.30 pm at MIT (Room TBD). A short description of Akanksha and the speakers is attached.

The agenda for the evening will be
6:30 - 7:00 Networking and Light dinner
7:00 - 7:30 Presentation on Akanksha – Vandana Goyal and Ruchika Gupta
7:30 - 8:00 Discussion and Q&A
8.00 – 8.30 Networking

The Akanksha Foundation www.akanksha.org
The Akanksha Foundation is a Mumbai-based not-for-profit organization providing educational opportunities to less privileged children in India, enabling them to maximize their potential and change their lives. Akanksha serves approximately 3,500 children through its centers and schools in Mumbai and Pune each year. Akanksha centers are formed with the vision to supplement serious gaps in the formal school system and the intent to make it fun to learn. Having seen success with its model for the centers, The Akanksha Foundation and its partners now run six full-time schools in Mumbai and Pune, and expect to have ten operational by 2012 through its School Project initiative, in addition to its centers. By ensuring the model is delivering the highest quality education to the poor while being scalable and replicable, these schools have the potential to serve as catalysts for education reform across the country, using evidence from the schools, the extensive training process, and the public-private partnership model to advocate for policy changes.

Ruchika Gupta, Director, Centres, The Akanksha Foundation
Ruchika Gupta has worked with Akanksha for several years in various capacities, and is currently Director, Centres, providing strategic and operational inputs to Akanksha centers and programs across Mumbai and Pune. A literature graduate from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai, and a post graduate in Mass Communication with a specialization in film from Symbiosis, Pune, Ruchika has worked on children's programming on Indian television with a leading Indian TV producer for two years. She joined Akanksha in 2003 and managed the Akanksha Art Project, public relations and design for three years before she transitioned to the Director’s role where she oversees all operations and administration related to the Akanksha centers and programs.

Vandana Goyal, Director, School Project, The Akanksha Foundation
Vandana Goyal is currently Director of Akanksha's School Project, which are public-private partnership schools in Mumbai and Pune. Prior to her involvement with Akanksha, Vandana spent four years with a Boston-based nonprofit organization called Citizen Schools, which is dedicated to changing the life trajectory of underprivileged urban children. She is a graduate of Claremont McKenna College, with a degree in Economics. As part of her undergraduate studies, she also spent a year at the London School of Economics. Vandana joined Akanksha in 2006 and has played an integral role in the conceptualizing and implementation of the curriculum at Beyond School Centres. These centers for adolescent children are focused on skills and career planning. In 2007, Vandana took on the role of Director - The School Project, overseeing the strategic direction and development of the operational plan for the six schools currently being run by Akanksha and its partners.

Date: 09/17/2009
Location: 2-105, MIT, Cambridge, MA
Time: 6:30 pm - 8:30 pm

Cost: $9 - Preregistration on-line
$10 - At the door


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