Roundup Update to Patrons #3

Subject: Roundup of activities

Dear Patrons,

Another month has passed and time for another semi formal roundup of activities (fairly longish one — advance warning).

General updates

— The GHCI scholarship number stands at 39 now (It was 29 when I mailed you last time). Since my last update to you, few more girls have received confirmation emails from ABI and we can even expect the number to go up by a few more in the days to come. Predictably, Arya is elated!

— The Google Venkat Panchapakesan Scholarship results are out. Our Felix from GEC Thrissur is one of the recipients. He was also one of the volunteers on this scholarship project at Rethink. You can learn more from his medium posts E-Meeting 6 VP Scholars and How I won Google Scholarship — True to our cultural ethos as outlined in our Credo, Felix has open sourced all the knowledge and information that he has gained in the process — and will continue to do so. He is visiting Silicon Vally towards end of this month and will be there for a week.

— These two outcomes (GHCI scholarships & Google VP scholarship) coming in back to back, has really helped boost morale and momentum across the board. We have been fortunate to have such outcomes in the first two focussed initiatives itself that we undertook.

— Arya is now fully leading the Opportunity Project. Presently, the focus is on the Adobe Women in Tech scholarship. From what I have been witnessing and hearing from Arya, we can expect nothing less than 100 applications to come in from Kerala (if not more).

— Soon after the Adobe scholarship effort, Arya will be taking up a focussed project of having resumes submitted to GHCI database as part of their career fare. Arya is looking to work with 1000 girls across our top 25 colleges to get their CVs done up as part of this focussed initiative. She is already making great strides in this direction. You only need take a look at what she managed to pull off in GEC Sreekrishnapuram to understand the good work that is happening on the ground — you can read her own narrative of the experience from this Medium post of hers. Suffice to say, almost all the girls that attended the event on that day (~70) have started working on their resumes and their applications for Adobe scholarship. And they will also be working with Arya to get all the other girls in their college as well to work towards these opportunities.

— We attempted an experiment. Instead of travelling to GEC Sreekrishnapuram to give a talk, I offered to do an FB Live for the audience gathered — Link to Live. Turned out to be an interesting experience and a truly scalable model once we perfect the implementation & adoption.

— Our guidance mechanism (Ask Rethink) is also showing increased adoption and traction. You can take a look at the threads in this Google group for you to get a feel of the kind of queries / facilitation requests that get to us and the kind of guidance response that we offer — Link to Google groups.

— On my personal front, I’ve successfully wrapped up my first ever course as faculty. Overall it was an intellectually stimulating experience for me and the course was also received well by the students. Course comments from students can be checked out from this Medium post. I had also attempted an open book + open laptop + open internet exam pattern for their end terms, the experience and the student response to which is captured in this Medium post.

Request for help

Should someone know anyone in the leadership team of Adobe India, would be great to get a reference or even a name. We have been trying to locate past winners of Adobe scholarship to request to do a Live with us but haven’t succeeded yet in sourcing this information. Writing to their contact us emails did not work either. And hence this call for help to our patron circle.

Some more key org updates

— I had informed last month that Yadu had joined on board full time as a team member. This engagement had to be suspended though after the initial couple of weeks itself. Owing to a series of developments in his personal life, he needs to take a break and is now busy preparing for his GRE. For now, we have decided to call off the engagement and revisit in a month or two.

— We had made a Stage 1 qualification to the N/Core program by the Nudge Foundation. Unfortunately, we did not qualify in Stage 2 — the reason provided that we did not satisfy their filter theme of poverty alleviation.

— Having said that, we have applied to Y Combinator (yes, they have started accepting non profits) and it would be fair to say that we did manage to put in a good application that reads well. Link to application draft. We should know the Stage 1 results by the 23rd. This deadline for submission was the 3rd of October and this partly explains the delay in you all receiving this update.

— We have also managed to cover good ground on our commitment to transparency. (YC also cares very deeply when it comes to financial transparency of non profits). All are financials, governance & communication is public (Link to respective information can be accessed from our Wiki homepage). My personal insistence of having this completed before I write to you was another reason for the delay in this roundup update getting to you all.

— Aby has done a splendid job of organising our Wiki homepage. I loved it. The brilliance is in its simplicity — You should also check it out.

— We have started onboarding volunteers for our projects on a more active basis. Our initial cohort of approx 100 is in place and we are looking to do the first meetup of volunteers sometime next weekend. We have started seeing a trickle of people directly reaching out to us also expressing interest in volunteering.

Wrapping up, housekeeping & staying in conversation

— We will need all your PAN numbers. This is for us to prepare receipts for your financial contributions. Arya has also prepared a neat system using Google Apps Script to automate preparation and mailing of receipts — Its actually quite slick!

— We will also be initiating request for patron contributions for the month of October between today and tomorrow. Wanted to have the accounts roundup and financial transparency bit done before we did so.

— Those of who can advance the contributions for the months in this year (Till Dec), it would be great if you could consider doing so — this will help us manage cashflow better. Our expenses are in the 70k — 80k range and our patron count is only catching up still. Moreover, the inordinate delay in having our bank opened saw me advancing over 2L from my personal savings (and another 50k by Zach) to cover the costs during the first few months. Some of you have already done this by transferring 5k at one go. It’s only a request — feel free to ignore this request if its even mildly inconvenient to you.

— I will also be creating a WhatsApp group for patrons to stay better updated. Bite sized nuggets of information on a regular basis would anyday be better than attempting to convey all matters together in one single big update. I will also look to introduce all patrons to each other when I do so. Will also enable us to quickly reach out for help when needed (Like the Adobe leadership connect).

— Would be great if you could also start providing references to potential individuals who we could consider getting on board as patrons. I will look to start reaching out to them starting this month. Annie and Sandeep have already provided references. Will look to see if there could be names that others can also refer.

— I will look to catch up with you all over a call over the next couple of weeks. Will also share a deck that captures the information on how to Navigate Rethink.

Regards, SKG

Sijo Kuruvilla George