Shadhika Shadhika

We know that the most important thing we can do is to foster long-term, trusting relationships that redistribute power.

What’s Connection Got To Do With It: Our Way Forward

By My Lo Cook, Executive Director

February 17, 2023

Reading Time: 4 minutes
Welcome to the first post of our Executive Director’s blog series! In this series, our Executive Director will be sharing insights on Shadhika’s mission, our gender justice work, and the impact of our programs in India. Follow our Executive Director on Instagram and Twitter for more!

Read more from The Executive Director’s Desk here.

We cannot expect transformative action in the communities where our grants are made if we are not willing to transform ourselves first. And we must do so in a way that serves the needs of the communities where we work so we might fulfill our purpose.

Over the last 2 years, Shadhika has had multiple conversations at all levels of the organization–from the field to our board, and back–to re-affirm our feminist core, our responsibility to decolonize international development funding, and our unique role to elevate voices that have been historically ignored.

The result is a strategic vision that grounds our theory of change in our most powerful ingredient and asset: connection. It is connection that will power the groundswell of change Shadhika aims to bring about by 2030:

  • Make $12 million in local grants directly to changemakers in India;
  • Disseminate social innovation from more than 30 grassroots organizations;
  • 1,000 Shadhika Scholars in action in their communities.

The data does not lie.

In 2022, Shadhika Scholars report that what kept them going and in school during the darkest times of the global COVID-19 pandemic was their relationships with peers and partner organizations. Consequently, 99% of Shadhika Scholars stayed in school and 100% of Shadhika Scholars expected to graduate did so on time. This success stands in stark contrast with less than a third of young women enrolled in college in India in 2022. 

These results are the confirmation that Shadhika Scholars move through their communities with the confidence and skills that can transform the perception of women and girls.

But don’t just take our word for it.

Economic empowerment studies conducted by Harvard University show that the most powerful determinant of the upward economic mobility of students from the poorest communities is not the access to opportunities or resources, but the nature of their relationship with individuals and groups of a higher economic status. These relationships are nurtured through activities that encourage social integration: social clubs, mentorship programs, thesis supervision, etc.

So while Shadhika’s programs can contribute to putting in place support structures and safety nets, and to expanding the horizons of the young women we serve, we know that the most important thing we can do is to foster long-term, trusting relationships that redistribute power.

Shadhika Scholars at the 2022 Leaders for Change Summit

And the world is catching on too. Words like “belonging” and “community” are making their way into companies’ official values, like Shadhika’s long-term corporate partner Equinix.

But our work has just begun. 

In 2023, Shadhika will pursue the following activities:

  • – Launch its corporate partnership program for high-impact, value-aligned companies to raise funds for Shadhika while also engaging in meaningful, mentor-like exchanges with Shadhika Scholars who are stepping into the labor market;
  • – Hold 2 Leaders for Change Summits in Uttar Pradesh and Gujarat to cultivate deeper connections among Shadhika Scholars and experts who can support their dreams;
  • – Hold 1 Partner Summit in Gujarat to promote more collective action by Support for Success partners;

And it is our relationship with you that fuels this work.

In solidarity, 


Here’s how you can stay connected with us: 

  • – Receive regular updates on our work and impact stories from our partner sites by signing up for our monthly newsletter, and follow our social media channels to stay updated with information about our programs, events, and more: Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn
  • – Make a donation to support a groundswell of change in India. Click here to learn more about the difference your contribution can make and about ways to give.
  • – You can partner with us as a corporate organization to engage your business in fundraising and diversifying the future global workforce to be more inclusive and innovative. 
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