Women in severely underserved communities across the world face significant challenges accessing a quality education. Barriers to education include gender discrimination, underresourced schools, early marriage, and expectations that school-aged girls will assist with household chores or care for younger siblings. It is nearly impossible to overcome these barriers without proper incentive, a support system, and access to services like mentorship and tutoring.
Learning Cascades employs a multistep process to empower and educate women and girls through a program of peer education and social capital credits (SoCCs). Participants tutor younger students earning SoCCs for each tutoring session. SoCCs can be redeemed for after-school lessons on digital and financial literacy, English, coding and other employable skills, or to cover school fees as needed. Parents can also earn SoCCs for sending their daughters to school, for taking a public oath against child marriage, and for other actions that help their community.
Learning Cascades currently serves over 5,000 girls and young women in India, Kenya, and the United States.
132 million girls are out of school worldwide. If every girl in the world finished 12 years of quality education, lifetime earnings for women could increase by $15-$30 trillion according to the World Bank. To build a lasting culture of learning and opportunity everywhere, Learning Cascades works with severely underserved communities— including rural areas and urban slums in India, women in the informal settlement of Kibera in Nairobi, and formerly incarcerated women in New York. Asia Initiatives is looking to scale up by 400 to 500 percent in each one of these locations. Their program in the Lucknow project in India currently has 1,500 girls enrolled, while the unmet demand is over 10,000. Demand is similarly high in Odisha, Yavatmal, and Chennai.
Some of Learning Cascades notable achievements include:
Fast Company recognized SoCCs as a "World Changing Idea" in 2020.
Former UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon has been a patron of Asia Initiatives since 2017.
Featured in Forbes, Fast Company, Thrive Global, and more
Asia Initiatives Learning Cascades is Currently Seeking:
Business strategy expertise to better engage corporations and diversify funding sources
Technical expertise to further develop and improve the app, adding features such as gamification and incorporating new technologies such as blockchain
Expertise and advice to improve monitoring and evaluation processes, particularly for developing a robust process to measure soft skills
Strategic marketing and publicity support to reach new markets and build a global brand
New York, United States
India; Nairobi, Kenya; New York, USA
Dr. Geeta Mehta Co-founder/President, Asia Initiatives