Project #1564

Provide computers for high-risk children in India

by ASSET India Foundation

Dear Ray, Vinita, Kiran, and Shayaan, What a pleasure it was to visit your compelling ASSET Program. I so enjoyed interviewing the students, parents, teachers and administrative staff. This program, housed in two small rooms in a low-income neighborhood of Dehli is focused on computer education, English language and Life Skills. The students and parents all felt that their self-confidence has soared since being part of the program. The current job placement rate is 65% but the goal is 90% in the next three years. The students were well-spoken, totally engaged in their learning and this is one of those outstanding programs where everyone seems to be on the same page. Vinita, Kiran, and Shayaan, I was impressed with your understanding of these youth and their many challenges. You truly seems to be changing lives at the ASSET center and, hopefully, my Podcast will be distributed far and wide and help support the continuation of this vitally important program. Thanks for the beautiful flowers and your gracious hospitality. Warmly, Pat Loewi

When asked what he would tell his friends about this project, Pat said: "Incredible: You need to see this!"



The ASSET center in Mumbai was opened earlier this year. The center is located in a dilapidated government school building- in the heart of Kamathipura- Mumbai's red light district! Businesses all around the school including stalls selling everything from cigarettes, vegetables, magazines to phone shops with copiers are controlled by the same people that control the sex trade.

For some unknown reason, the ASSET center and the students that come for the training are left alone.

The results from this center are most gratifying. Students have been placed in jobs that pay well enough to keep the students to stay out of the sex trade. Photos of the students and placement data are in the attachment.

We are in negotiations with three companies that have Rural BPOs in the southern states of Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. Our aim is to include the skill requirements of these companies in training so that placement after completion of the training will be easy.

Pat Loewi, an ASSET supporter was in Delhi recently and she has created a documentary which contains interviews with students and parents at the ASSET center in Delhi. The link will be posted here as well as the ASSET India Foundation website shortly.

I highly recommend the book "Half the Sky" by NY Times reporters Nicholas Kristof and his wife Sheryl WuDunn. One of the issues the authors describe is the terrible plight of girls sold into prostitution in India.

Note from Sheryl Wudunn:

From: Sheryl WuDunn Date: Thu, Nov 5, 2009 at 10:15 PM <>


Keep up the great work. ASSET is working in an area that needs so much help, so I"m very gratified to hear about what you do. Your daughter must be a remarkable woman. My hearty congratulations to you and to her for all the work that ASSET does. best, Sheryl ********************** Challenges we are addressing:

1. Partner organizations do not address hardware problems in a timely fashion.

2. Every time a PC breaks down, a new replacement PC is expected.

3. Since ASSET requires that each batch consist of 20 students, slum children that don not meet ASSET guidelines are recruited.

4. In order to financially sustain the ASSET project over the long run, I would like to have the students take out microfinance loans to pay their tuition of Rs. 2,500 ( < $60). The plan is to have them repay the loan within 6 months of getting employment. All the students we have placed in jobs so far earn between Rs. 2,500 and Rs. 4,000. In India when something is given for free, people doubt its value. Since this is a non-traditional Microfinance application, I have not been successful so far in a tie-up with a microfinance lender.

Ray Umashankar


I am very pleased to announce a partnership with the MILLEE project directed by Professor Matt Kam of Carnegie Mellon University. I serve as adviser to the MILLEE project.

MILLEE stands for : Mobile and Immersion Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies.

It is centered on Cellphone applications that enable children in the developing world to acquire language literacy game-like environments. MILLEE aims to make localized language learning resources more accessible to underprivileged children, at times and places that are more convenient than schools. The design methodology is based on best practices in commercial language learning packages and the traditional village games that children in the developing world play.

MILLEE has received major technology and financial support from Nokia and the project is being implemented in schools run by the Byrraju Foundation in Andhra Pradesh.

MILLEE will be implemented on a pilot basis at ASSET India Foundation's newest location in Hyderabad "Arunodhaya" which serves more than 100 children of sex workers and HIV infected parents.

I am delighted to inform you that Dell Foundation awarded another $20,000 grant to ASSET India Foundation- $10,000 for PCs for the center in Bangalore and $10,000 for instructors salary support.

In addition Dell India staff members will actively volunteer and provide support in the following areas at each of the ASSET centers:

1.Recruitment of students 2. Selection process of students 3.Admissions of students 4. Recruitment of teachers 5. Orientation to teachers 6. Orientation to students 7. Initiation of classes/ Batch inauguration 9. Industry visits 10. Workshops and classes by visiting faculty 11. Monthly/mid terms/ end term evaluation 12.Arrangement of career counseling to students 14.initiation of placement contacts 15.Conduction of pre-placement activities 16Conducting of final tests. 16.Placement week 17.Preparing placement reports 18. End term reporting with case studies and press coverage 19.Post placement follow up and mobilization of second batch 20.Certificate ans award distribution ceremony

Also, Mr. Hersh Goel, an Honors Pre-med student at the University of Arizona will be working as a summer intern at ASSET-Delhi. In addition, Ms.Ruchika Agrawal will be submitting her application for a fulbright fellowship focusing on issues relating to trafficking and ASSET's role in the rehabilitation of trafficking victims.

1. All the seven existing ASSET centers have been brought under the management of SMILE Foundation( which has an all India presence. SMILE's regional offices will be involved in the recruitment and retention of students as well as the monitoring the performance of teachers and program coordinators. 2. An ASSET center has been opened in Mumbai, in the heart of the Kamathipura red light district in partnership with Prayog and managed by SMILE. Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) has been requested to provide volunteers to meet with students on a regular basis.

3. Students from ASSET/SMILE centers have been placed with Nokia, Cafe Coffee Day, Fun Cinema and HDFC Bank.

4. ASSET just received a $20,000 grant from Dell Foundation for additional computers and teacher salaries. The Purpose Prize award of $10,000 as well as the SHG Foundation grant of $10,000 were received in December 2008. Won the Globalgiving contest first prize of $10,000 by raising the largest amount in a 4 week period

5. At the request of one of our major donors, I have been investigating entrepreneurship models similar to the ones implemented successfully by Grameen in Bangla Desh. I have done due diligence on many of them but none of them was a good fit until I found one successfully implemented by Hand in Hand, a very reputable NGO in Tamil Nadu. ( They are a large Microfinance organization and have set in operation 1,400 computer Citizen center kiosks in rural Tamil Nadu.

ASSET adviser Kunal Garg will be meeting with the director of the HiH Citizen center program in order to conduct a focus group among ASSET trained girls and their mothers working in teams.

1. HiH will provide full training, hardware, e-learning tools and all access to various services

2. ASSET will explore providing loans of Rs.30,000 (~ $600) at 18% interest to each mother/daughter team to start these kiosks

3.The monthly income ranges from Rs.1,000 ($20) to Rs.10,000 ($200) depending on location and services offered.

4. The Rs.10,000 per month locations offer banking, passport, photoshop and numerous other services.

Why HiH model may be a good fit for ASSET:

1. Girls trained by ASSET who cannot take up employment for any reason can use their computer skills and work at home with their mothers.

2. HIH is very interested in partnering with ASSET to assist the mother/daughter teams.

3. HIH will bring the best practices to the ASSET partnership

4. The Rs.10,000 per month income is above what sex workers earn in a month and will be a strong deterrent for the mother to get out of the flesh trade and keep the daughter out as well.

5. ASSET will consider starting a pilot project with two or three centers.


1. For the pilot projects, ASSET India Foundation will consider providing the funds for the loans.

2. Global Giving Foundation is trying out a new fundraising platform developed by and wants to do a pilot for the ASSET computer kiosk project for a $50,000 fundraising campaign. Global Giving will pay give2gether and will not cost ASSET anything. The money raised will be used for microfinance loans through HiH for ASSET girls and their mothers.

Project MILLEE – Mobile and Immersion Learning for Literacy in Emerging Economies

I serve as an adviser to the MILLEE project which uses mobile phone game technology for teaching English to students in rural India. ASSET is involved because of the challenges in finding good English teachers and keeping them.

ASSET would like to provide inexpensive mobile phones to its students so that they can continue to learn and practice English usimg the MILLEE technology. ASSET's request for 30 used laptops has been approved by Infosys.

Dr. Matt Kam, my colleague at Carnegie Mellon and Project leaders will use the 30 laptops for MILLEE field work in India in the summer of 2009.


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Organization Information

ASSET India Foundation

Location: Tucson, AZ - USA
Website: http:/​/​​
Project Leader:
Ray Umashankar
Tucson, AZ United States
$213,732 raised of $287,000 goal
1,600 donations
$73,268 to go
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