It is not often that we decide to do something about things that trouble us. Prakhar Bhartiya is someone who believes in walking the talk. Founder of Youth Alliance of India, Prakhar connects youth with social causes by helping them volunteer with different NGOs in different sectors.
It all started when Prakhar was in school. “There was a slum opposite my school, and I would never eat ice cream while walking on the road not because it would look bad but because I did not have enough money to buy ice cream for the children in the slums,” reveals Prakhar. He started Youth Alliance in his third year of college. At the time it was a slow movement but they got a boost in 2009 when they partnered with Jaago re campaign and held drives for voter registration in Noida and Ghaziabad regions. With over 6000 people registering from colleges in the region, they definitely had a huge impact on youth participation in the democratic process.
It was after becoming a part of Teach for India fellowship he realized what it takes to work at grassroots level and the importance of mentorship. Post his fellowship, Prakhar got his friends at Teach for India to Youth Alliance and the team grew to five people. At present, Youth Alliance runs different leadership programs in both urban and rural space for increased participation from the youth.
Making a change via mentoring
For urban change-making, Youth Alliance has a fellowship program known as Lead the Change. It is an eight-week program which takes around 25 to 30 passionate individuals from Delhi and provides them guidance and mentorship in the form of interactions with experts like Anshu Gupta (Founder – Goonj), Shaheen Mistry (CEO-Teach For India), Ravi Gulati (founder – Manzil) among others in the space of social entrepreneurship.
Another program Gramya Manthan, aims at rural immersion and developing social leaders. It takes 50 people from the country and takes them on a rural exploration to understand village life and the problems villagers face.
So far over 200 youngsters have been a part of Lead the Change fellowship. Out of them, 11 fellows have joined the NGO full-time, 25 new initiatives have come up from the alumni, and 14 fellows joined social organizations on a part-time capacity. 40 fellows went on to join different fellowships in social development space.
Future and lessons learnt
Talking about the future, Prakhar wants to create an ecosystem in colleges where they can enable youngsters to bring about change. For this, he is also working on formulating a one-year program “Onus – Social Change Lab“, launching from march, which will comprise of several stages from personal transformation to implementing ideas to prototyping and then solving the problems. This will start in one college and eventually grow from there based on the results.
Prakhar says the most important things he has learnt from his journey is not to lose focus and give ownership to team members; this, he says, often leads to great results.
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