Delhi-based Central Square Foundation (CSF), the Ashish Dhawan-backed non-profit investment fund that backs non-profit education ventures, has been busy the past few months scaling up investments, driving policy and creating platforms to discover new education ventures. Here’s a quick update on what they’ve been up to recently:
- Public-private partnership: Earlier this year, the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM) approved a policy for Public Private Partnership in Education (PPPE). CSF provided inputs in developing a robust framework for selection, evaluation and results-based financial reimbursement to private partners that will work with MCGM to improve the quality of learning in Mumbai’s municipal schools. It is now bringing together a group of foundations to form a PPPE coalition that will take the lead in enabling other such partnerships and expand this movement for quality education to scale.
- The India School Leadership Institute (ISLI) that CSF co-funded with a group of international foundations launched its first cohort in May. The Akanksha Foundation is currently incubating the programme in partnership with Teach For India and KIPP.
- The Mindspark Learning Centres in Delhi, serving over 400 children, are providing encouraging evidence for the potential of models that blend technology with traditional learning. Over the first six months of learning, Mindspark Centre students demonstrated nine months of progress in Maths and eight months progress in Hindi over the baseline. Three new centres have been added recently, taking the total centre count to five. CSF is working with Educational Initiatives to refine the business model for this initiative so that the network of centres can become a self-sustaining enterprise.
- Akanksha Foundation’s Madhavi Gavirineni and Anjali Sabnani participated in the KIPP Fisher Fellowship in the US to develop their instructional and leadership skills. CSF is now supporting an early grade reading programme across Akanksha’s network of 13 schools to improve students’ comprehension abilities.
- 3.2.1 School successfully completed its first year with 118 children moving from kindergarten to class 1. Fifty per cent of 3.2.1 children are counting at an exemplary level and in reading comprehension children can carry their skills from familiar texts to new texts indicating conceptual understanding. 3.2.1 is almost at capacity for the coming school year, in which another 120 children will join kindergarten.
- As part of its search for the next generation of education entrepreneurs, CSF launched Edupreneur Quest, India’s first ever social-enterprise business plan competition focused on education, in partnership with Teach For India and Villgro Innovations Foundation. The winner was Apnishala, a Mumbai-based organization founded by TISS Social Enterprise graduates that is developing life skills among 8-14-year-olds through a stories programme. CSF intends to repeat Edupreneur Quest to attract bright young minds with fresh ideas into the education space.
An integral part of the CSF platform is its initiatives with respect to influencing policy on education. In a note on the foundation’s progress on that front, Dhawan writes:
At CSF, we are pushing to make quality the focus of education policy and practice in India. During the last few months, we have met numerous elected leaders and senior bureaucrats focused on education at various levels of government. Their interest in improving the quality of education inspires optimism in us and we are working on a number of policy initiatives to increase quality.
This year, FICCI initiated a National School Education Committee which CSF is chairing. We plan to focus this group of 25 corporate members and the FICCI platform to call the attention of policymakers towards critical education reform issues.
Also read our earlier interview with Dhawan on what he hopes to achieve with CSF.
Image credit: CSF