Tell us about Shanti Bhavan Children’s Project. What inspired its start?
Shanti Bhavan was founded by Dr. Abraham George, a former Wall Street businessman and entrepreneur. Dr. George was born in Kerala and, after serving in the Indian army, emigrated to the United States to study at New York University’s Stern School of Business.
Throughout his successful career, Dr. George reflected on the poverty he had witnessed during his time in India. Simultaneously, he felt a deep frustration with the failures of existing educational nonprofits in India. Many educational interventions would provide only a few months of skills training, or a couple of years of basic English. These efforts did not lead to the long term results and impact he sought. Children and families who participated remained destitute, unable to break out of the cycle of poverty.
Dr. George felt compelled to take action, ultimately selling his company and returning home. He purchased a plot of land in Tamil Nadu, one of India’s southern states, and began construction on what would later become Shanti Bhavan, a world-class educational institution that commits to 17 years of intensive intervention for each child in the program.
What was your most successful moment?
One of Shanti Bhavan’s most monumental successes took place when the first class of 12th grade students passed the rigorous national ISC board examinations with flying colors, securing admission into several top private colleges in Bangalore. Many of these students were the first in their families to graduate from high school.
Shanti Bhavan was able to support the continuing education of all of these students, which meant that many went on to become the first in their families to graduate from college, too. These students secured white collar professional jobs at top multinational companies like Amazon, Adobe, Deloitte, EY, Goldman Sachs, Mercedes Benz, and more, proving definitively that the Shanti Bhavan model transforms the lives of the children and communities that it serves.
As a nonprofit, what obstacles do you face? How do you plan to overcome them?
As a nonprofit, the primary obstacle we face is securing enduring, long-term funding. Our program is 17 years in length, and the longevity of this intervention necessitates finding committed individuals and organizations willing to partner with us for the long term. Shanti Bhavan actively seeks to identify and develop a diversity of partnerships to fund operational and capital costs.
Of equal importance is an adherence to our mission; with twenty years of proven success, we know and trust the Shanti Bhavan model. We believe in the work that we have committed to doing, and this allows our team to effectively advocate for Shanti Bhavan. However, one thing that’s always on our minds is that there are so many people in need – more than Shanti Bhavan currently has the capacity to help. This is why we have committed to expanding to a second school, in the hopes of providing support to even more individuals and families.
Tell us about your goals for the next 5 years. Where do you hope to be?
Within the next five years, we hope to open the doors of a second Shanti Bhavan school. We’re excited to welcome new students and connect with more communities.
In addition, we hope that current and future graduates of Shanti Bhavan will continue to positively impact and uplift their communities. Our first college graduates are still young men and women, and yet we have already seen the tremendous impact their educations can have. We can’t wait to see where they are in five and ten years as they acquire leadership positions within their careers and communities, providing them with even more resources to transform society for the better.