We are thrilled to announce a new initiative at Pesto, the Pay It Forward Fellowship! The Pay It Forward Fellowship is a chance for female students to be paired up with a sponsor to cover moderate living expenses while participating in our career accelerator program.
At Pesto, our mission is to give everyone equal access to opportunity regardless of where they were born. We are using remote work and education to make this possible.
Our program is free up front, students pay a fixed percentage of their salary after graduation to cover the costs. This is what allows us to bring Silicon Valley quality education to the masses in India that would otherwise be too expensive.
Free upfront education sounds great in theory, but in practice things are a little more complicated. Not everyone is in a financial position to take three months off of income-earning work to dedicate themselves fully to self improvement.
This is where the fellowship comes in. It opens up our program to all of the students that would otherwise not get a chance to participate because of financial circumstances.
Who is Eligible
The goal of the fellowship is to give everyone a chance to participate. However, some people need more help than others. Therefore we are limiting participation in the fellowship to the groups we feel need help the most.
A 2017 World Economic Forum report ranked India as 139th out of 144 countries for “economic participation and opportunity” for girls.
At Pesto, this is something that we would like to help change. Therefore only students who identify as female will currently be eligible for the fellowship.
We might open the fellowship up to more underrepresented groups in the future. However, for now, this is where we believe we can make the maximum impact.
How it Works
After being accepted into the Pesto career accelerator program, eligible students may submit their application for the Fellowship by answering a set of questions regarding why this is the right time for them to participate in our program and their short and long term goals.
Answers are then sent to potential sponsors so that they can choose an applicant.
Every sponsor has committed to making up to a $900 donation for each applicant that they choose. This is enough money to cover three months of modest living expenses in Delhi, our program location.
Fellows will be awarded up to $300 every four weeks during our 12 week program and can spend this money however they see fit. In exchange, we ask every fellow to do two things:
- Send their sponsor an update email every week during the program and one more six months after they graduate.
- Commit to paying it forward later in life, by sponsoring two students who are going through similar challenges.
By having every fellow commit to helping another two fellows later in life, we hope to create a self sustaining program for maximum impact. There is no time commitment when fellows need to make a sponsorship, it could be 1 year after graduation, 5 years after or whenever they feel they have the financial means to give back.
A big thank you is in order for Abhinaya Konduru who not only planted the seed for the idea of the Pay It Forward Fellowship but also agreed to be our first sponsor!