- To describe a method for sustainable higher education for smart and talented though economically-challenged Parsi youth
- To recruit a network of interested Parsi organizations to become part of this educational ecosystem
In the last 22 years, US based non-profit Foundation for Excellence (FFE.org) has sponsored approximately 45,000 Indian youths for a 4 or 5-year college degree in India, helping with expenses of about $ 2500-3000. The qualifying conditions are:
- Must be in the top 15% academically
- Must be in the bottom 15% economically
- The degree must be in engineering or medicine
- Must agree to sponsor 2 other kids in the future, under the same conditions, once they have the income and assets to provide a hand up to those in a similar situation
Proven Model: Some of the kids who went through the early programs have already sponsored 5 or more kids themselves within 15 years of graduation, far beyond their initial commitment to sponsor 2 during their career. This is a successful, proven and highly scalable and multiplicative model.
Infrastructure: Both the tax-deductible USA nonprofit fundraising mechanism and the due diligence team in India to vet applications is already in place, experienced for more than 2 decades.
Efficient: 100% of donations go directly to the students; all administrative and overhead expenses are completely being borne through the generosity of a well-wisher.
Donor/Donee Direct Relationship: Each donor can identify the specific individual/s they have helped, and if they choose, they may develop a mentoring relationship to help in their future career.
IRS Guidelines: Explicit religious discrimination by a qualified non-profit will not be permitted under IRS guidelines. However, applications made through a Zoroastrian organization could ensure that Parsi youth are given a fair chance to compete for these scholarships, particularly since there has not yet been any explicit outreach to Parsis, while other groups have had their champions and outreach mechanisms.
Funding Pledge: An initial pledge to support 10 kids through the program is in hand. It is conceivable that additional Parsi supporters will step up once this program gets going, as the need as well as the qualifying population is surely greater than just the 10.
Leverage: A single sponsored student, if he starts sponsoring one other student starting 5 years after graduation, and continues sponsoring one more student every 5 years, for a professional career of 35 years, will sponsor 6 in his career; But each of those 6 could sponsor another 6. Arithmetical exponentiation suggests that in just 30 or 40 years, an initial investment one student would yield many times that in leveraged impact.
Timeline: The next set of student applications is due in September 2016 for vetting and due diligence. We have to work backwards from that deadline to determine the roles and protocols for all organizations which choose to participate in this worthy project.
Through the good office of
- FEZANA, WZO, and similar community organizations,
- Publications like Parsiana, Parsi Khabar, Mumbai Samachar and the like, and
- Community organizers and activists:
We seek to
- Locate and identify Parsi youths meeting the criteria
- Inform them about the opportunity
- Identify and recruit a Parsi organization or organizations to shepherd their applications and funnel them to FFE, in competition with other youth meeting the criteria
- Identify Parsi schools and orphanages, particularly in economically-challenged areas like Sanjan, Surat, Udvada etc whose students can be encouraged to apply, and where the difference in the college/non-college career opportunities available to the youth will be most dramatic, and do the most good
- Outline and formalize a protocol and flow for the entire process described above, of funneling the nominations / applications from the qualifying youth to FFE
- Follow up to mentor the graduates for support and maximum career impact
Sarosh D. Kumana
More information at http://www.ffe.org/