India has the third-largest higher education system in the world, after the US and China, according to the World Bank. However, higher education in India is an expensive affair. Any student who wishes to pursue a degree in engineering or medicals in any good institute of the country has to be prepared to shell out over INR 20 lakh each year, if not higher.
Thankfully, the central and state governments run many schemes, offer grants and scholarships to make education more accessible to Indian students. Every year the Government offers scholarships worth INR 13,000 crores. Unfortunately, there is a huge lack of awareness about these schemes. Hundreds of scholars who have the aptitude but lack financial resources give up on their dreams as they are unaware of these facilities.
To bridge this gap between scholars and scholarships, Manish Sharma, an engineer with grassroot-level experience joined hands with his co-founder, Saurabh to start Youth Dreamers Foundation – an NGO based in New Delhi that collaborates with the Government, HNIs, and CSR initiatives to disburse scholarships to worthy students.
Saurabh’s journey of completing his MBA through scholarships and their collective understanding of the need, led to their first pilot in 2013-15 with Asian Paints’ Family Trust. They disbursed scholarships to 2000+ students associated with Kapadwanj Kelawani Mandal Trust in Gujarat.
Matching scholarships to scholars
Youth Dreamers Foundation (YDF) model is simple- identify scholarships, create awareness, find the best candidates, and support them through the application process.
They have identified many gaps in the delivery of Government schemes. These gaps occur at various levels in the supply chain- student, institute, district, state. Manish and his team provide support through all levels by:
- Ensuring proper dissemination of information on Government scholarship schemes
- Encouraging educational institutes to register on the National Scholarship Portal
- Helping candidates accurately fill their applications
To date, YFD has worked with the departments of Education, Minority Welfare, and SC & ST Welfare to disburse scholarships year-on-year and improve their system of applications.
When it comes to private scholarships, finding deserving candidates can be difficult. YDF helps HNIs and CSR initiatives to design their scholarship schemes based on on-ground-need analysis to optimise the corpus sum allocated for this initiative. For the past three years, YDF has been working with HCL’s My Scholar program to implement scholarship schemes in cities like Noida, Chennai, Madurai, Gurgaon, Lucknow, and Bangalore. Team YDF conducts outreach programs, identifies & shortlists genuine applicants, and connects them with the scholarship provider.
Since its inception in 2015, Youth Dreamers Foundation has helped award scholarships worth INR 2.3 crores.
Giving wings to dreams
For Manish and Saurabh, facilitating scholarships for young dreamers is more than just enabling them to continue their academic pursuits; it is about giving them a fair chance to build a better life. This is precisely what YDF has been able to do for scholars like Astha, Deepak, and 2297 other students that Manish has worked with.
For Astha Singh, money was limited but her tenacity was limitless! She travelled for more than an hour to reach school and often missing classes due to the uncertain travel facilities. She found the answers to her problems through the S. R Jindal Scholarship, facilitated by YDF. The scholarship enabled her to get a bicycle and study essentials. She is now well on her way to becoming an IAS officer!
Aided by his 4-year Magma Scholarship, Deepak is completing his B.SC in Maths (Hons) and will go on to join the army. A straight-A student, Deepak registered on the YDF website as soon as he heard about their work. Due to his great academic record, he won a yearly scholarship of INR 25,000. This enabled him to continue studying and supplement his father’s limited income.
Securing the Future of Young Scholars
In 5 years, Manish and Saurabh see Youth Dreamers Foundation helping all State Governments with their scholarship schemes. They want to design more inclusive, efficient, and effective scholarship schemes across India.
Currently, the Government is the biggest scholarship provider. However, Manish and Saurabh envision YDF to be a platform that enables any concerned individual to become a part of a young dreamer’s journey. For instance, they designed a scholarship scheme in Bihar to benefit 100 scholars funded by an HNI with a commitment of INR 35 lakhs per year. Manish and Saurabh want to replicate this model that enables scholarships beyond Government funds.
Join Manish Saurabh in their journey to help realise the thousands of young dreams!