Today, we speak with American India Foundation (AIF) Scholar Sidharth Hendre (Cohort 12, India) from our Virtual Leadership Institute, empowered by Atlas Corps for service in the United States.

Sidharth is the Northeast Program Associate at the Pratham Education Foundation, a nongovernmental organization dedicated to improving the quality of education in India.



Name: Sidharth Manoj Hendre

Home Country: India

Current Organization: Pratham Education Foundation

Role at current organization: Northeast Program Associate

Social Issues: Quality education; Gender equality; Reduced inequalities

What inspires you the most as a leader?

The ability to influence other people’s lives and to be able to create an impact. The values of empathy, humility, equality, and commitment have helped me shape myself as a leader.

In my journey as a leader, I’ve learned a big lesson–there isn’t anything such as common sense that exists. Some folks in your team get things right away, while others need a bit more help and explanation. That’s why it’s crucial to go into even the smallest details when talking to your team. Leadership isn’t just about giving orders. It’s about creating a space where everyone feels comfortable asking questions, even if they’re unsure.

Please tell us a little bit about the type of work that you do at your organization and the impact it has made in your local community.
As an AIF Banyan Impact Fellow, my project revolved around digital literacy and youth development for students from government and low-income private schools in Shaikpet Mandal in Hyderabad. We set up and revived the computer labs in these government schools, where students could get sustainable access to computer literacy. We also conducted workshops on Social Emotional Learning and Comprehensive Sexual Education by partnering with other NGOs, and conducted a one-month-long summer camp in two government schools by reaching out to approximately 150 students. The focus was on making their summer break fun and utilizing the time to reinforce some of the subjects like Math, English, and Science in order to bridge the learning loss that occurred during the COVID-19 lockdown.
After the end of the AIF Fellowship, I have recently joined Pratham Education Foundation as a Program Associate for the Northeast, where I am working closely with the Pratham leadership team in Assam to support donor management, liaise with the government, and create proposals and concept notes for existing and potential partnerships. I also track implementation in close coordination with the program team and provide regular updates about the progress to the leadership.
What has been your favorite part about the Virtual Leadership Institute so far?
The opportunity to meet and interact with people across the world with diverse work experiences and socio-economic backgrounds has been a highlight for me. Also, the course curriculum of VLI is so thoughtfully curated that it helped me gain some of the crucial hard skills that are required to work in the social development sector.
What is your best quick tip that you can share with us about how to succeed in the Virtual Leadership Institute?
There’s no one-size-fits-all for people to succeed in VLI, so from my experience, I would suggest just being at it and having more than one accountabuddy who would keep you updated and motivated.
What is your Leadership Project about and what impact will it have on the community you serve?
Social inequality poses a significant challenge to providing all children with equal learning opportunities. There is a huge resource gap that exists in the field of education. Educational inequality is the unequal distribution of academic resources to socially excluded communities, including but not limited to school funding, qualified and experienced teachers, books, and technology. During my Fellowship project with AIF, I had been working with young people on the aspect of youth development in government and low-income private schools in Hyderabad, where I witnessed that the youth in poor slums in India are growing up with a very limited outlook due to congested environments, poor schooling, and limited exposure to the world outside their narrow world of school and home. Being born and brought up in such circumstances limits their social-emotional and intelligence quotients. My Leadership Project will focus on conducting workshops on social emotional learning with adolescents and youth coming from low-income marginalized communities to improve their life skills, self-awareness, confidence, decision-making skills, and negotiation skills. These workshops will help these young people understand themselves better; understand their bodies; and improve self-esteem, time and stress management, goal setting, and other topics that are important for the social and economic development of the child into a young adult.

What are your plans after the Virtual Leadership Institute and how will this experience help you achieve these plans?

The plan is to continue working towards the cause of educational equity. The VLI has helped me understand myself better and reflect on my leadership styles and qualities, which I feel are going to play a crucial role in my journey forward.

What message would you like to send to individuals (Volunteer, Donors, Board of Directors) who support Atlas Corps?

The VLI has supported me and many others like me to enhance our leadership skills and helped us gain some crucial 21st-century industry skills that will help us create an impact.

Thank you, Sidharth, for sharing your leadership journey with us. We are excited to see you continue to inspire positive change in the future!


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Photos from Sidharth’s personal archive.