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Samaanta Foundation
Samaanta Foundation is non-profit that provides quality higher education opportunities to students from poor socio-economic backgrounds in Nepal. It is a 501(c)(3) registered organization that provides comprehensive fellowships to meritorious students in need, to cover their educational expenses and support their overall holistic development. Samaanta foundation’s fellowships are comprehensive in nature, as such, it covers tuition fees, accommodation, transportation and any other related expenses. Fellows are placed in quality higher education institutions. Recognizing that success in higher education does not depend only on the classroom, the fellowship also offers i) mentorship, ii) networking opportunities, and iii) extra-curricular support such as workshops on civic sense, personal finance and mental health for fellows' holistic growth. In addition, Samaanta supports its fellows in acquiring English language proficiency to facilitate our fellows’ transition from public schools to private colleges.In a nutshell, what Samaanta offers its fellows is Education Plus. We seek to create an enabling environment for our fellows so that they do not only become empowered themselves but also contribute towards the empowerment of their communities. Our mission is not to provide charity but to reward the fellows for their good work and to encourage and support them to achieve even more in the days to come. Samaanta started as a pay-it-forward movement among four friends 10 years ago. It started out as a passion project that we worked on weekends, all volunteering and pooling in our own funds to kickstart. The foundation has now supported 76 students, out of which 46 are female. Since 2015, at least one Samaanta fellow has been selected to receive International United World College (UWC) scholarship to study abroad. To date, we have had nine fellows receive a UWC scholarship, out of which eight were female fellows. We have had one dentist graduate so far. Since 2015, 10 female fellows have received the Women LEAD fellowship, the first professional leadership development organization for young women in Nepal. We consider these milestones as strides in the right direction, considering it is a country where school enrollments of girls is still less in comparison to boys.ValuesOur three core values are Education, Empowerment and Equality. The word “samaanta” means “equality” in Nepalese. Thus Samaanta foundation aims to promote equality and empowerment by providing quality higher education to those in need. MissionEducation is increasingly considered an uncontested social good but it is only a particular kind and quality of education that leads to the transformative experience of empowerment and greater freedom. As explained in the “context” section below, such quality education remains beyond the reach of most aspiring students from public schools in Nepal. We believe that everyone should have equal opportunity to access quality education.The mission of the fellowship program therefore is to  Promote empowerment and equality through quality higher education We assist students throughout their high school and are now expanding to support high achieving fellows through their college career to access quality education. ObjectivesThe objective of the organization isTo provide comprehensive fellowships to facilitate quality higher education for meritorious needy students from rural communities in Nepal We are building an engaged, sustainable fellowship program to facilitate quality higher education for the poorest and most marginalized.Context: Higher education in NepalWhile the education sector in Nepal has expanded greatly in recent years, it suffers from various problems. Some of the key problems include the low quality of education, lack of relevance to the market needs and poor access for students from underprivileged households. While these problems affect the entire education sector, they are especially pronounced in higher education. The pervasive emphasis of international development agendas such as the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) and Education for All (EFA) have led to a disproportionate emphasis on primary and secondary education, to the peril of higher education. There are fewer scholarship opportunities and the costs of education are disproportionately high after secondary schooling. Poor access is a key problem for students from poor and underprivileged households. According to National Living Standards Survey 2011(NLSS), the higher secondary gross enrollment rate (GER) stands at 76%. Notably, the enrollment rate varies widely across poverty groups. The GER for the poorest 20% is 17%, compared to 148% for the richest 20%. Among those who can access education at this level, there is a widening gap between public and private school outcomes in Nepal, resulting in segregation of students along income status. The lack of socio-cultural and economic capital holds public school students back, as they do not get the same opportunities for upward mobility. Further, as the generation of students undergoing mass schooling aspires to middle class status, language of instruction becomes increasingly important, with English preferred as the international language. As public school students make the transition to higher secondary education, their inexperience in ‘modern’ settings as well as their lack of language fluency (lack of cultural capital) affects their performance in higher education.Selection of fellows Our target group is highly motivated, academically strong students from poor socio economic backgrounds. We have a rigorous selection mechanism in place to select the students that are most suited to the foundation’s goals. Our selection mechanism emphasizes all round excellence coupled with a strong commitment to social responsibility, so that the fellows can be effective change-makers in their communities and the country. SustainabilityThe fellowship program has been successful only with the support from individual and institutional donors as well as partner schools that believe in the equality of opportunity. We have also been working closely with United World Colleges (UWC). One of our fellows has been selected to study the International Baccalaureate at UWC Mostar this year. What Samaanta offers is solidarity and not charity. The Foundation currently relies on contributions from those that share our vision but we seek to develop a sustainable model through a dedicated endowment as well as a pay-back to pay-it-forward mechanism, whereby graduate fellows contribute back to support the initiative. This mechanism to give back to the Foundation is flexible to suit the needs of each fellow. We are thinking of the following ideas:Fellows will be required to pay back a certain amount of their fellowship investment once they are earning a certain minimum income. We expect our fellows to sponsor meritorious needy children in their own communities in primary and secondary levels, when our fellows are able to do so. Beyond finances, we expect our fellows to engage in their communities as positive contributors and continue to represent Samaanta values throughout their lives. We seek to create and sustain a critical mass of Samaanta fellows from different marginalized communities throughout rural Nepal to empower a powerful network of a new generation of change-makers at the local level and national level. We are able to work towards this vision only with the support of generous donors and institutional partners who collaborate with us on the basis of our share vision. Visit us at:
Raised: $21.065


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