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"Akanksha", or Aspiration is a non-profit organization that educates less privileged children from Mumbai's slum areas and provides them with vocational opportunities. Over the past 10 years, Akanksha has managed to create opportunities for 1000 children who study in Akanksha centers.  A centre can be based in a school after school hours, colleges, offices and other existing spaces. Akanksha does not invest money in brick mortar. We use existing under-utilized space.

We believe that an early start with good basic education is the best way to help Mumbai's slum children help themselves. We aspire to provide them balanced education that focuses both intellectual and emotional development.

Volunteers are an important part of the programme and over 250 volunteers spend time teaching at Akanksha. Volunteers comprise school and college students, housewives and professionals. For each volunteer, Akanksha is a unique learning, as well as a giving experience.

Education at Akanksha is non-formal but structured, creative, innovative and targeted towards developing each child holistically.  The progamme develops in each child a sense of dignity, integrity and the self-confidence to take on the world.  Thus, in its own way Akanksha is helping mould its children to be socially responsible citizens.

Akanksha's vital aim is to integrate the children into the formal school system. For this the teachers counsel the parents on the importance of education and the necessity of going to school. We reimburse parents for the children formal school expenses like fees, books, uniforms, etc. The children therefore attend the formal school as well as the Akanksha school. We provide them with the additional support that they need to keep them in school and monitor their progress. 


  • Good education accessible at an early age is the best way to help less privileged children help themselves.
  • A balanced education must focus equally on a child's physical, mental and emotional development.
  •  It is important to instill dignity and self worth in children if they are to become good citizens.
  • Children need a physically and psychologically healthy environment to work and play.
  • Volunteers can play a vital role in their educational programmes.

These beliefs from the base of our educational philosophy and curriculum. Established in 1991 as a registered charitable trust, Akanksha today has 17 schools, 850 children and over 300 volunteers.


Today an increasing number of children are born and live in one of the numerous slums spread all over Mumbai. Trapped in a daily cycle of forced work and physical and emotional abuse they grow up without experiencing any part of childhood. They need someone to show the joys of childhood, they need educational opportunities so they can build a better future for themselves. Akanksha tries to be the hand they can hold and the opportunity they can take.


The Akanksha Foundation was started in 1990. Registered as a charitable society and trust in 1991, Akanksha has grown from an organization run completely through voluntary efforts to a professional institution with full-time and part-time staff that channel voluntary efforts towards providing educational opportunities to less privileged children.

Akanksha began with a simple idea. There were thousands of slum children who needed and wanted to be educated. There were thousands of college students who had the energy, enthusiasm and time to teach these children. And there existed pockets of available spaces located in schools that seemed ideal teaching environments. The simple idea then, was to bring together the three kids, student volunteers and spaces. Once we made this three-way connection the first Akanksha centre was born.


Board of Trustees

Anu Aga
Director, Thermax India Ltd.
Shaheen Mistri
Founder & Chairperson, The Akanksha Foundation
Srila Chatterjee
Executive Producer, Highlight Films
Nandita Dugar
Ex-consultant, BCG
Neel Shahani
Senior Vice President, India Infoline Ltd.
Amit Chandra
Managing Director, Bain Capital Advisors
Ramesh Srinivasan
Partner, McKinsey & Co
Somasekhar Sundaresan
Partner, J Sagar Associates


Deepak Parekh
Chairman, HDFC
Anand Mahindra
Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Mahindra & Mahindra Ltd.
Arjun Waney
Chief Executive, Argent Fund Limited


Akanksha believes that a strong afterschool model can effectively fill many of the gaps in the school system. Founded on the principle of maximizing existing resources, centres are run in under-utilized buildings and spaces for 21/2 hours a day, five days a week for a group of 60 children. Each centre is staffed with professional teachers trained in imparting the Akanksha curriculum and methodology, assisted by volunteers and social workers.


The mission of the Akanksha centres is to impact the lives of less privileged children enabling them to maximise their potential and change their lives.

We want each Akanksha child to

  • have a strong educational foundation
  • have a deep sense of self-esteem
  • have a good time in a space where they can be children
  • successfully complete secondary school
  • grow into concerned citizens and leave with a job.
We want to encourage them to dream. But more importantly, we want to empower them to deliver on their dreams.


It is the social worker who maintains the link between the parents, the community and Akanksha. They recruit the children: the poorest kids, kids with single parents, first generation learners are given priority. Besides ensuring that children attend Akanksha and formal school regularly, and trying to control dropouts from the system; the social worker monitors parental involvement, educates parents on health, hygiene, AIDS, against physical abuse and parental neglect, etc, through monthly parents meetings. The Empowerment Program, conducted by the Social Work team at all the adolescent centres educates children on dealing with alcoholism, substance abuse as well as issues related to sex and sexuality. The Social Workers are in the communities every single day and are respected Akanksha representatives in the communities; they catalyse social change amongst the parent community just as an Akanksha centre strives to do that with the children.

More about Akansha

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