#DonateToEducate: A Covid-19 Relief Fundraiser by Project Sitara
written by Khushi and Shiva from Project Sitara
With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a significant share of the population has been robbed of basic amenities such as food, shelter and healthcare. While many NGOs are doing phenomenal work in providing ration and other essentials, there are many NGOs in the space of education that are severely hit since they are falling short on funds. With the aim of combating this crisis, Project Sitara launched #DonateToEducate, a Covid-19 Relief Fundraiser, through which they raised Rs 1,70,000 to help vulnerable groups affected socially and/or economically by the pandemic.
Project Sitara Foundation is a non-for-profit founded by Shriya Shankar at the age of 18. Since its inception, it has been an entirely student-led organisation working towards inculcating 21st century skills in children from underserved communities. Having worked on-ground with orphan children for 1.5 years, they were all set to begin their revamped curriculum, but the Covid-19 situation took over instead. Project Sitara quickly switched gears and began raising funds to support other organisations who have found ways to positively impact children despite the issues posed by the virus outbreak.
What makes #DonateToEducate unique is that it uses education (for the HAVEs) as a means of raising funds to educate the HAVE NOTs. As part of this fundraiser, these young adults launched a 10-day webinar series covering 6 different topics in the fields of technology, finance and citizenship, aligning with the work that the organisation does. These sessions were held by professionals and experts from the industry. Following their mission of making education accessible to all, Project Sitara made these sessions free and available to everyone, by following a Pay-As-You-Wish policy. Any attendee who found value in the session could donate an amount of comfort post the session.
Here’s a look at the webinars conducted, with their titles and hosts:
- 20th, 21st June: A Brief Introduction to Natural Language Processing by Dr Monojit Choudhury, Principal Researcher, Microsoft Research Lab India.
- 22nd, 29th June: The Fun of Dynamics and Control-Quadrotors to Aerobatic helicopters to Microrobots by Dr. Ravi Banavar, Professor, IIT Bombay.
- 23rd, 24th June: Big Data and HDFS, Map-Reduce Processing with Hadoop by Dr Subaramaniam KV, Professor, PES University.
- 25th, 26th June: Financial Planning and Investment — How to add wealth to your life, by Mr. Naveen Fernandes, Certified Financial Planner and Professor.
- 27th June: Life in the Indian Armed Forces by Lt Col PS Chandrashekar, Veteran, NDA and Indian Military Academy.
- 28th June: What catches the eye? Attention and Salience in Economics by Dr. Srijita Ghosh, Assistant Professor, Ashoka University.
The 10 days saw 320+ students attending the webinar series as well as a few working professionals. Students across the country from colleges like IIT Bombay, IIT Kharagpur, NIT-K, PES University, BITS Pilani, Ashoka University, Azim Premji University, Christ (deemed to be) University, SJCC and a few colleges from different countries like USA, Germany and Canada attended the sessions.
“As college students, it was definitely a tightly packed 10-day schedule since we already had our regular Sitara engagement work and college work besides the newly launched #DonateToEducate campaign.
One thing I have learnt from Reap Benefit is the power of community collaboration.
The team — Ananya, Samartha, Sruthy, Srushti, Rohit and Advait — took up high levels of responsibility to ensure we reached our goals and passionately portrayed how dynamic and impactful young adults can be!”, said Shriya.
The proceeds of the fundraiser has been donated to two organisations:
- AMC — The Association for the Mentally Challenged. This organisation will be utilising the donation to provide groceries, masks and learning materials for families of 80 mentally challenged children.
- Sahaara Charitable Society — This organisation will utilise the funds for Project Pratham which provides educational support for marginalised children. They are also trained in a skill and become employable thus ensuring that they have a chance at a brighter future.
Future plan: With a team full of Solve Ninjas, Project Sitara is working on a remote engagement process, so that their children still have access to meaningful education. It is more than important for us to focus on the underserved community now so that the inequality gap doesn’t widen.
To keep up-to-date with Project Sitara’s work, follow them on Instagram.