School for a Village
Bridging the gap in science and technology education for secondary schools around the world through need-specific, targeted support.
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Are you employed by T-Mobile or related to an employee of T-Mobile?
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Date You Started Your Project Started
Project Stage: Select the description below that best applies to your approach.
Established (successfully passed early phases, have a plan for the future)
1. The Problem: What problem are you helping to solve?
Even as our world becomes increasingly shaped by science and technology, rural communities struggle to provide high-quality secondary STEM education. Village schools often lack access to crucial resources, leaving students severely underprepared upon leaving school. This problem is further complicated because rural schools each exist w/in their own social, cultural, and geographic context – making one-size-fits-all solutions largely ineffective.
2. Your Solution: How are you planning to solve this problem? Share your specific approach.
School for a Village is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that aims to bridge the gap in science and technology education in secondary schools around the world through need-specific, targeted support. We identify and implement need-specific solutions to the challenges faced by individual schools in India and Kenya. First, we work with rural schools to assess their specific needs alongside local volunteers. Second, we develop an individualized implementation plan, bringing on partner organizations that are addressing the identified challenges. Finally, we deliver targeted intervention (science labs, textbooks, training for teachers, computing technologies, curricula, etc.) to transform STEM education for disadvantaged communities. Over the last three years, we’ve come to understand the importance of a community-based approach in which our beneficiaries are part of the solution from the very beginning. We’ve also come to appreciate the positive impact that a need-specific approach can have on students and how it is often possible to leverage existing solutions in new ways. Identifying the right challenges is the key to developing and delivering the most effective solutions.
3. Personal Journey: What’s the story behind why you decided to start this project?
My interest in educational equity comes from a deeply personal place – hearing of my own grandfather’s journey. Growing up in a poor region of India, his childhood village did not have a school for children to attend. Most students did not have access to any form of education. My grandfather attended school in a neighboring village, and throughout my childhood, I vividly remember him stressing the importance of education. I later came to understand why: he firmly believed that his education is what ultimately enabled him to lift my mother and her siblings out of a life of poverty. His story inspired me, and as a sophomore in high school, I fervently wanted to change the state of education in his childhood village and began working on a single project in his village. I founded School for a Village (school4village.org) to formalize and build on this experience.
4. Selfie Elevator Pitch: Include 1-minute video that answers the following “I am stepping up to make change because...”
5. Example: Please walk us through a specific example of what happens when a person or group gets involved with your project.
In Kenya, we are working with Daraja Academy, an all-girls boarding school for students from homes of material poverty. We identified this school through a Kenyan County Director of Education. In speaking to the school, we learned that students enter Daraja with starkly differing competency levels in English and Science because they come from all over Kenya. Teaching at any one level is simply not effective. We had previously learned about Choosito! (www.choosito.com/), a virtual librarian application that delivers personalized learning materials to students. Although this company works predominantly with refugee populations in Greece, we saw potential in bringing their application to Daraja students. We facilitated the needed connections between Daraja and Choosito!. Students are now benefiting from access to materials that match their educational backgrounds.
6. The X Factor: What is different about your project compared to other programs or solutions already out there?
Our approach is based on an understanding that one size doesn’t fit all. Through our “one school at a time” model, we develop highly individualized plans for each of our target schools. We also recognize that schools have diverse needs. Ultimately, different needs point to different solutions – we connect the dots. Sometimes, we can directly address a school’s needs, but in other cases, the right approach may be to bring in other partner organizations that can more effectively address their needs. Our collaboration-based model means that all existing solutions are essentially partners for us.
7. Impact: How has your project made a difference so far?
School for a Village has worked with schools in Bahjoi, India and Nanyuki, Kenya [described in Q#5]. In India, we built three labs – biology, chemistry, and physics – at Vidya Mandir School. Speaking to the school, we learned that students were skipping chunks of the national curriculum simply because they lacked the necessary resources. With the completion of these new labs, students are now completing the curriculum. We’ve heard testimonials from students about wanting extra time in the labs and teachers have cited significant improvements in student learning and ability to compete nationally. Close to 1000 students in grades 6-12 from Bahjoi and other surrounding regions have benefited.
We have several other projects in the works – from textbooks for prison homes in Kenya to design thinking workshops. We’ve engaged thousands through our national chapter system and online outreach.
8. What’s Next: What are your ideas for taking your project to the next level?
We hope to expand our already active chapter program through which high school, college, and community-based groups engage in fundraising and awareness efforts for School for a Village – each with a goal of raising $5,000 every year. We plan to continue building a diverse coalition of partner organizations, each with a mission that augments our ability to address a wider range of the needs that a school may present. Finally, we hope to develop a digital matching platform to connect the specific identified needs of our target schools to potential solutions, whether those come from us directly or through our partner organizations. This will enable us to scale while maintaining the integrity of our “one school at a time” model.
9. Which of the following types of expertise would be most useful for you?
10. Finances: If applicable, have you mobilized any of the following resources so far?
Donations less than $100
Donations between $100-$1k
How did you hear about this challenge?
Recommended by others
Referral: If you discovered the Challenge thanks to an organization or person other than Ashoka or T-Mobile, who was it?
We Are Family Foundation