Atma

Atma's Mission: Building capacity of education NGOs to achieve organisational sustainability & scalability thereby enabling delivery of quality education. Atma Values are: o Alone we can do so little. Together we can do so much. (~Helen Keller) o Excellence is never an accident. (~Aristotle) o Strength lies in differences not in similarities. (~Stephen Covey) o If you say you're going to do something, do it. If you start something, finish it." (~Epictetus)
Feb 6, 2017

Tackling issues in the disability space

 

Atma has formed an expert group of practitioners from 20 different NGOs in Mumbai who will collaborate to improve access to quality of education for Persons with Disabilities. The first consortium of ‘Gati - A consortium on education for Persons With Disabilities’ took place on Friday, November 25th, 2016. This was followed by a second consortium on January 27th, 2017.  

Atma Executive Director Mary Ellen Matsui says, “Gati is a place for knowledge creation and sharing in the disabilities space. At Gati, participants will showcase their work, network with peers, learn cutting edge best practices and advance the cause access to quality education by authoring white papers.”

Only a select group of practitioners will participate in workshops, do site visits and work in groups over a period of one year as a part of Gati consortium.

Umang Founder Dr. Bhawna Kerkar says, “A conference like this will help us to standardise things in the Special Education sector. As of today, many experts are doing different things. What we need is a concerted effort.”

Dr. Bhawna Kerkar is a Clinical Psychologist with over 18 years of experience in the area of Psychological Testing and Counselling. Umang is a special ed organisation based in Mumbai that has graduated from the Atma Accelerator Programme.

Bhandup-based organisation Vardayini Apang Seva Sansthan (VASS) is one of the new organisations working in the disability sector. Dr Asavari Shinde, Founder, VASS says, “In Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan (SSA), the government is only conducting surveys on disabilities. Manpower is very low. We need professionals in ground. We need quality education for Children with Disabilities. We need a forum to discuss these issues.”

While VASS is not a part of the Atma Accelerator Programme, Atma is encouraging organisations with quality programmes that work at grassroots level to strengthen the collective voice of the disability sector in Mumbai. 

Sonali Saini, Founder, Sol’s ARC says, “I want to have a healthy dialogue about what the issues are. First thing that is required is a realisation that change is required and that we want to get better. We all make small changes but they are not enough for the entire sector. A consortium like Gati will be a good start in that direction.”

Mumbai-based Sol’s ARC has been on the forefront for advocating additional concessions for disabled students applying for Secondary School exams. The concessions included increased extra time, grace marks, the selection of alternative subjects and a special curriculum suitable for students with special needs.

Links:

Nov 11, 2016

2015-16: A year of new developments and high impact

Annual Report 2015-16
Annual Report 2015-16

The year 2015-16 has been one of fond farewells and exciting beginnings in the life of Atma. We graduated eleven partners from the Accelerator Programme and on-boarded ten more. We welcomed several new team members and expanded the business development team, the M&E team, and the communications team. We launched a great new programme, the Atma Network, and we even moved offices -- though only into the next door building!

Witnessing the incredible growth of graduating partners like Bright Future, OSCAR, and Apni Shala was inspiring, and seeing the potential in our new partners has pushed us to practice Atma's mission internally by strengthening our organisation across multiple areas. In the past year, this has meant developing our team, completing an Atma rebranding, and launching the aforementioned Atma Network, a platform that provides free-of-cost NGO management expertise through webinars, strategy tools, and project guides. I can’t express how thrilling it is every time we hear of a new NGO joining the Network!

This year, we also saw an opportunity to harness the collective power of our partner NGOs. To this end, we launched a cohort for organisations working in education for persons with disabilities – Atma's first sub-sector cohort. In launching this cohort, we to take a step towards addressing key issues such as ‘inclusive education’ and affecting sector-wide change.

It is extremely satisfying to know that with each passing year, we get to associate with not just passionate leaders but also highly skilled volunteers who believe in Atma’s vision. This year we had volunteers from India, Canada, Australia, Austria, UK, Mexico, and the United States. They have worked in areas like M&E, Marketing, Strategy, and Finance, and on Atma Studio projects for our partners. As we grow and welcome more volunteers, we have seen a need to professionalise the Volunteer Programme to ensure that the quality of project work remains high. Our screening process has become tougher, and as of this past year, all volunteers now receive a Volunteer Performance Report that both (1) catalogues completed projects and hours worked and (2) provides feedback on competencies built and project quality from their supervising Partnership Manager. The reports this year have documented critical and high-quality work completed towards strengthening our partners systems.

So, I want to thank our amazing volunteers – you have made valuable contributions to some of the best education NGOs in India. None of this would be possible without the amazing team at Atma who work tirelessly for our partners and their students. They are skilled and empathetic professionals who make my job easy and make the world a better place for children everyday.

Lastly, I want to thank our supporters – new and old – who have continued to believe in the work that we do. I am happy to share that more and more donors are recognising the role that accelerator programmes play in the ecosystem towards affecting lasting change. We can't wait to continue this important work in the year to come.

Annual Report 2015-16: http://www.atma.org.in/…/…/11/Atma-Annual-Report-2015-16.pdf

Aug 18, 2016

9 NGOs Onboarded to the Accelerator Programme!

Our onboarded NGO leaders and supporting Atma team
Our onboarded NGO leaders and supporting Atma team

The beginning of August saw the Atma welcome 9 new NGOs aboard the Accelerator Programme at the Victoria Memorial School for the Blind in Tardeo. Through strategic support and a 3-year partnership, these NGOs will be guided towards stronger leadership and better funding so that they are able to improve and expand their programmes, ensuring that their students are achieving meaningful academic milestones.

These 9 organisations, namely Anandi, Maharashtra Dyslexia Association, Mona Remedial Centre, Mentor Me India, Urmi Foundation, Spark-A-Change Foundation, Sunshine School, Sankalp Charitable Trust and Suyoday Trust are going to work in partnership with Atma to make their organisations bigger, better and stronger. Through this partnership involving at least 1200 hours of support, 3 dedicated volunteers (annually) and 1 dedicated Portfolio Manager, these organisations are going to work within 10 organisational development areas to increase the capacity and impact of the work they do!

With 7 of these 9 organisations focusing on education of children with special needs, this marks the expansion of Atma's 2016 Special-ed Cohort! Founder of Spark-A-Change (SAC) Nirmala shared with us what her kids pitched in enthusiastically, "Teacher, we learn the same things now as before. But now we understand what we learn".

Here's wishing our new cohort the very best. Onwards and upwards may they go!

 
   

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