Giving Compass’ Take:
• Amitabh Shah explains how YUVA Unstoppable makes an impact for Indian students through tutoring and toilets – simple innovations that make all the difference.
• What other unfulfilled basic needs stand in the way of education efforts?
• Find out how community schools are addressing students’ needs to boost their academic success.
Started in 2004 by Amitabh Shah, YUVA Unstoppable started as a small group of enthusiastic individuals that believed in the power of youth. Today, YUVA has transformed 700 schools in over 40 cities in India to help over 500,000 children.
What sparked the inspiration for you to start YUVA Unstoppable?
Inspiration always comes from places you don’t look for. It always comes as an accident. That’s what I have found.
The real inspiration for YUVA came from my exchange student experience in Talladega, Alabama. I joined the Boys & Girls club’s Big Brother/Big Sister program. It made me think, what if I started one back in India? So, instead of going back to Texas for my MBA, I stayed in India and mobilized about 150 volunteers. They each gave about 2 hours of time to help in subjects like Math, Science, and Reading. That’s how YUVA started. We had a lot of support globally from corporations. The problem was – and this is where the main focus of YUVA comes from – in India’s government schools, there is only 1 toilet for 300 or so students. So even when we were there for 2 hours a week, it was a big issue. It lead me to think about ways we could improve the toilets and the facilities.
With the help of over 100 companies, we have transformed 700 schools and helped about half a million children by giving boys and girls separate bathrooms, and also making the hand washing stations more hygienic.
What does the phrase Innovative Philanthropy mean to you?
I think that innovative philanthropy simply means seeing a problem and coming up with a solution for it. Many times, it doesn’t take rocket science, and you don’t have to think of the most complex solutions. For us, it was as simple as volunteers who went to teach English in government schools seeing that the toilets were non-functional, or there were not enough for 300 children, and deciding to actively change that. We also saw that the water quality was poor. So, if you see a problem, you solve it. For problems big and small, there can be simple solutions. I like the phrase, “keep it simple student.”
Read the full interview with Amitabh Shah about Amitabh Shah by Grant Trahant at Causeartist.
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