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Learning On the Ground

Alessandro made a visit to our three locations in India, the first time a member of our Supporting Team has been since pre-COVID. He brings back insights, ideas, and inspiration.

Alessandro and Monika leading a meeting of scholars and their parents in Chandigarh

"We need to stop thinking of this opportunity as just helping girls finish school. We need to start thinking about it as helping girls become independent"
- Site Visit Report November 2022

Why These Visits Matter

One of our North Star principles as an organization is that we want the details on the ground to guide our decisions. Our entire organizational model is based on this. We try empower the women we hire as Operations Coordinators to make the decisions, while our role is to support from the background, raise funds, and help set the strategic direction.

Why? It's fairly simple actually. Because our view on development is that it has to come from the ground up. These women know their communities much better than we do. They speak the local language and understand the customs of the people around them in a way that we simply cannot. And as a result, we believe that they are in the best position to lead and drive our programs forward.

All of this might lead you to question why we would then need to have any visits in the first place. But the thing is that if we are going to serve as effective partners, we need to see the impact ourselves. We need to speak to the scholars and their families to understand their triumphs and their failures. We need to know what we are doing well and where we are falling short. And we need to build relationships. And all of those things can only occur in person and on the ground. That's why we do these visits.

What We Learned

This visit was particularly important, since it's the first time someone from our Supporting Team has been to India since before COVID. The last years were tough, and one of the challenges as an organization was being separated from seeing the facts on the ground first-hand.

The good news is that I learned lot in my time in India. Here are a few things we learned:

What's Going Well

What Could Be Improved

The team we have built on the ground is dedicated and talented. We should continue to look at ways to support and empower them.

We need to balance our need to collect more data with our model of empowering people on the ground.

Our scholars are clearly in need and the scholarship is giving their families financial flexibility.

We need to focus on long-term support for girls and take a more holistic approach.

There is ample room to grow in the three locations we are working.

We need to ensure we stay in touch with the details on the ground.

Three things to know:

  1. Most girls are finishing high school and many girls are going to college. However, there is a huge opportunity in terms of getting these girls into a position where they can actually be independent. This means linking their education and skills to the job market.

  2. Our girls would benefit from support services (i.e. technology classes, mental health, career guidance, etc.). There are partnerships “on the table” that we should leverage to roll these out.

  3. We currently don’t have a lot of data on our scholars and are thus unable to respond to conditions on the ground or measure our performance.

If you have ideas or thoughts on these learnings and how we can translate them into action, feel free to reach out.

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