Women-led Startups Leaving Their Imprints

Here are a few ‘Teach For India’ alumnae who are working in diverse areas and doing their bit in their responsibility towards society.

India’s growth story has excluded a key demographic: women. Despite improvements in social parameters, India’s growth does not translate to the financial inclusion and independence of women. In fact, women’s participation in the labour force has come to a stagnation stage and is expected to decline further because of technological disruption, labour trends and the prevalent social barriers. Removing these obstacles, are a few ‘Teach For India’ alumnae who are working in diverse areas and doing their bit in their responsibility towards society. Let us know in detail about these women disruptors and their disruptions:

Manasi Mehan, Co-founder, Saturday Art Class

Manasi co-founded Saturday Art Class, a non-profit educational organisation promoting life-skills, social-emotional learning and character development in low-income schools of Mumbai, via Art, in July 2017. We aim to educate children about important values and life-skills to create more wholesome individuals who can better navigate their lives beyond the walls of the classroom. Currently, She plays the role of the CEO and look into programme management (overseeing programme delivery), managing operations functions (finance, human resource management) and key stakeholder management. As a former Teach For India fellow (2015-2017), she has an insight into the grass-root level education in India. She has a masters degree in Sociology and a background in psychology. Additionally, with 4 years of experience in the social sector, she has the required skill-set and insights to lead a transformative education program.

Saturday Art Class founded in August 2016 intervenes in government, low-income aided schools, after school programs and shelters through teaching a formally structured art-based curriculum that focuses on social and emotional learning, life skill development and character strengthening among children. They teach this curriculum on Saturdays so as to not intervene with the regular academics. The curriculum is an amalgamation of life skills and social-emotional learning such that every session children can practice their learnings through the process of art. The structure of the classes ensures student interaction with the Saturday Art Class coaches, parent leaders and mentors who come from different walks of life, leading to an expanded worldview. The organization has been able to see a measurable behavioural change in over 4000 students in the last 2 years and also conduct a complementary-to-academic value-based curriculum for children from low-income backgrounds using the process of #ART as a medium to teach. The classes are conducted in BMC schools (were conducted online during lockdown), low funded private schools and orphanages across Mumbai (8 centres) and children learn the core values - patience, sharing, gratitude, teamwork, respect, cleanliness & equality of the curriculum through art. For example, pointillism taught the students patience, colour psychology taught them how to express their emotions through colour. 

Ritu Lamba, Co-founder, Things EducationRitu co-founded Things Education which believes that children learn best in an environment that gives them the space to explore, to try and fail and try again and to discover how the world works. They create learning resources to build childrens’ independent problem-solving abilities, develop social and emotional sensibilities, and have fun. To ensure a rich learning environment, Things Education empowers educators by making educational research accessible and implementable in classrooms and homes.

Things Education functions from the research-backed understanding that children learn best in an environment that gives them the space to explore, to try and fail and try again and to discover how the world works.

Though the child is in charge of their own learning, an educator guides the child through clear learning objectives and pushes the child’s understanding forward with well-timed prompts and essential questions. This would require the educator – be it a teacher, a parent or any caregiver – to have an understanding of pedagogy and subject matter.

Through Things Education’s work, the organization provide learning resources to build the child’s independent problem-solving abilities, develop social and emotional sensibilities and have fun!

To ensure a rich learning environment, the startup empowers educators by making educational research accessible and implementable in classrooms and homes.

Jigyasa Labroo: Co-Founder, Slam Out Loud

Jigyasa’s experiences as a teacher in a low-income community brought her face to face with questions of power and privilege but bringing poetry to her children also brought her hope. Her fellowship at Teach For India made a segway into designing and piloting learning experiences to build a culture of student leadership.

As the movement spread, she focused on the deprioritization of art education around the world which leaves children unable to harness their voices and started Slam Out Loud – a for-mission, non-profit that uses the transformative power of performance and visual arts to build Creative Confidence in disadvantaged children. Slam Out Loud currently reaches 50000 children across 4 states in India. SOL was recently recognised as one of the most inspiring education innovations in the world by HundrEd and won the social entrepreneurship challenge at Unleash+.

She consults on organizational development and is a certified Action Learning coach. She’s been an Arts for Good fellow at the Singapore International Foundation and is an avid traveller and a musician.

Slam Out Loud uses performance and visual arts to enable children from disadvantaged communities to find their voice through creative expression. The organization works with professional artists and e-learning resources to help children build the creative confidence needed for them to dream bigger and create their future.

By providing access to space for art-based learning that is traditionally inaccessible to individuals in at-risk communities, the start-up builds in the 21st-century skills of critical thinking, communication, collaboration and creativity, fostering leadership that can drive universal change. The diverse group of children, youth and artists that the organization with within these communities discover their voices through the transformational power of the arts enabling them to become creative thinkers who dream bigger, achieve more and create the future. 

Chandni Chopra, Director - Research and Design, Simple Education Foundation

Chandni has graduated with a degree in Business Economics and Public Policy from Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. Post her Fellowship, she joined Teach For India as a Program Manager and worked for 2 years, to transform the journey of students by putting them on a path of leadership.

She led TFI’s unique student leadership initiative called ‘Maya’ in Delhi. As a Program Manager, she was also responsible for the growth of 15 TFI Fellows and worked closely with them as their coach and mentor.

She started her journey on our paper plane as the School Leader at the Bhim Nagri Primary Simple School Project in Delhi and now spearheads the Program Impact & School Leadership and works directly with school teams in strengthening the Simple School program.

Chandni spearheads Design and Implementation of SEF's flagship programme and has played an instrumental role in framing the educational philosophy of the organisation.

Chandni is also the Co-Founder of Khel Khel Mein, a nonprofit initiative that aims to foster a culture of sports among children.

Simple Education Foundation (SEF) is a not-for-profit organization based out of Delhi. It was founded in 2013, with the belief that every child deserves access to quality education, regardless of their social and economic backgrounds. Our core philosophy is that every child should have an equal learning opportunity, and that should not be determined by where they are born. Given that over 65% of children in India are still going to government schools, we work to design & implement holistic school transformation programs that aim to strengthen government schools from within. The organization's vision is to empower all children to build a better tomorrow.

Ankita Nawlakha, Founder & CEO, School of Citizens

Ankita is a passionate teacher and a lifelong learner. Her work at Teach For India as a Fellow and a Program Manager made her realise that young people hold the key to a just, equal India. With this belief, she started SOC. 

School of Citizens flagship program empowers young citizens to bring systemic change using citizen journalism as a tool. They research and report on issues that matter, mobilise stakeholders and share their stories on diverse platforms. The New Education Project (TNEP) Fellowship is India's first fellowship program for children from disadvantaged communities. We equip the vulnerable section to shape their own communities by working on the issues that matter to them. We use the transformational power of arts to teach children 21st-century life skills. Arya represents the hope of young citizens to follow their dream. The programs culminate into a Broadway Styled Musical.

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