In 2020, AIF quickly pivoted to address the critical situation in India and the United States. In India, AIF leveraged its programs’ infrastructure on health, education, and livelihoods via its wide network to address the needs of the nation with ventilators, PPE, and other interventions in order to save the lives of vulnerable Indians from COVID-19. Read the report here.

In 2021, India recorded the world’s highest daily tally of 314,835 COVID-19 infections on April 22nd, as this second wave sent many more into a fragile health care system, critically short of hospital beds and oxygen. Working with our partners, hospitals, and governments, AIF has launched a three-pronged Phase 2 Emergency Response Strategy to address this crisis. Here is an overview.

The American India Foundation is committed to improving the lives of India’s underprivileged, with a special focus on women, children, and youth. AIF does this through high impact interventions in education, health, and livelihoods, because poverty is multidimensional. AIF’s unique value proposition is its broad engagement between communities, civil society, and expertise, thereby building a lasting bridge between the United States and India. With offices in New York and California, twelve chapters across the U.S., and India operations headquartered in Delhi NCR, AIF has impacted 6.7 million lives across 26 states of India.

Cross-cutting Alliances Drive Social Change

Cross-cutting partnerships are crucial to mobilize communities for large-scale change. Poverty is complex, and poor families and individuals face many challenges that are interwoven and manifold. For this reason, partnerships that work across AIF’s thematic areas of education, public health and livelihoods are especially essential for sustainable impact. Because the obstacles AIF seeks to overcome are systemic, multi-dimensional and challenging, multi-year partnerships are vital. AIF is grateful to have one such partner in Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation, which shares our vision of empowering marginalized and underprivileged communities through scalable and replicable interventions. Hand in hand with NGOs, government and institutions, Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation has impacted countless lives through interventions in health, education, livelihoods and disability. Together, we strive towards a future where people across India have the tools they need to reach their full potential.

AIF’s journey with Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation has created sustained impact on the ground over many years. We have empowered 6,500 children so far in Uttarakhand with meaningful and hands-on education through our Digital Equalizer (DE) program, which has been shown to boost test scores and increase attendance. Our ongoing Maternal and Newborn Survival Initiative (MANSI) in Uttarakhand has touched the lives of 8,500 pregnant women, 4,300 newborns and 10,700 children through training and empowering frontline health workers to provide quality care, reduce newborn and child deaths, and improve maternal health. Through VEER, AIF and Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation worked together to foster an inclusive ecosystem for people with disabilities and train 1,500 People with Disabilities in employable skills. With its support of the Clinton Fellowship Program, Rural India Supporting Trust illustrates a deep understanding of the long-term impact of cross-cultural exchange to build bridges and foster a community of leaders committed to India’s long-term development. Through their service, the communities they’ve built and bonds they’ve created, the 10 RIST-funded Clinton Fellows have impacted 10,000 lives and are building a stronger and more collaborative global future. In addition, Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation has partnered with AIF through education and livelihoods initiatives that empower at-risk children with a meaningful education and equip disenfranchised young people with the skills they need to take part in the 21st century workforce.

The value of the Rural India Supporting Trust/The Hans Foundation’s sustained and cross-cutting partnership on our work on the ground is immense. Their belief in our vision of an India without extreme poverty inspires us, motivates us, and brings us closer to reaching our goal. Paul Glick, Director of Grant Management at Rural India Supporting Trust (RIST), is a senior level leader and project manager with over 15 years of domestic and international experience in community development. As its Director of Grant Management, Paul is responsible for overseeing RIST’s grants, including incoming requests for funding proposals and monitoring ongoing projects to ensure performance and efficiency, and advises the Rural India Supporting Trust on strategy development, proper project implementation, monitoring systems and corporate social responsibility, among other responsibilities. His message below shares his journey in international development, and describes how our collaborative partnership lays the groundwork for a stronger and more equitable India.

As a career humanitarian and senior staff member of the Rural India Supporting Trust, I can say that a quote which encompasses the importance of our collaboration with AIF is one which was so eloquently said by Dr. Martin Luther King in 1957 while he addressed a group of volunteers: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?’”  This is the essence of what drives our work at RIST and THF.  As good fortune falls upon some, we need to pass this along to ensure suffering and inequity are a thing of the past.

More specifically to our partnership with AIF, I can attribute the linkage to AIF’s reputation as an effective implementer of innovative community level programming.  The capacity AIF has is an attractive quality for an organization like RIST that looks to guarantee that our support is given with the utmost care.  As RIST grows, we look to a future where more focused strategizing on development in India is the cornerstone.  Our work with AIF in the education sector is something I can foresee as a progression of lessons learned and expansion through strengthening networks of like-minded and capable organizations.  I am hopeful that we can be one of the main contributors to ensuring quality education for all children in India. 

The education system in India is not unlike many others around the world, in the fact that there are areas of the country which get very little attention and are underfunded.  We have seen some positive change in select areas but must work to widen the coverage.  Innovation in programming is a necessity.  Espousing the importance of education in rural areas, making learning fun, bringing technology into the classroom, developing effective curriculums, making sure that teachers are respected…and paid a livable and timely wage are just some of the things that need to continuously be attended to. 

“Participation in programs like this most definitely have a ripple effect and if RIST can be the pebble thrown into the water – I think we are on the right track!”

As far as role models go, I have many people that I have looked up to over the years.  Some who we all know, like Dr. Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandi and Mother Teresa, who tirelessly worked to positively touch peoples’ lives. Yet, most are unknown as humanitarians, advocates or community leaders.  I tend to take personal experiences to heart. When I see someone who does “good” when nobody is looking or puts their own life on hold in order to help others…this is where I find true inspiration.  At the risk of sounding corny but with relevance to the education sector, I would say that my mother has inspired me.  She was a teacher for her entire career. Although at times I wish she didn’t hold my education as such a high priority, like when I preferred to be outside instead of doing homework, I saw that she held all of her students at the same expectation level.  Her desire to see her students succeed was apparent in her dedication to her job.  On this note of inspiration, but bringing back our relationship with AIF…I’d like to also mention the Fellowship project that RIST and AIF are partnering on.  I was a Peace Corps Volunteer in Zambia, in what seems like a lifetime ago.  When I heard about the Fellowship program that AIF had been implementing, I knew that it was not just important but necessary that RIST got involved.  I am motivated when I see young people with a willingness to volunteer.  I am moved by this because I understand the courage needed and the sacrifice that must be made to move to another place and insert yourself in a totally foreign situation with an expectation that you are going to “make a difference”.  It’s a high order but yet some take it head on.  They do not get paid but still they go.  The experience will leave them humbled and most likely they will learn more than they will teach.  The real value in this is not necessarily the Fellowship itself, but what this Fellow goes on to do in their lifetime.  Participation in programs like this most definitely have a ripple effect and if RIST can be the pebble thrown into the water – I think we are on the right track!

-Paul Glick, Director, Grant Management, Rural India Supporting Trust

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One thought on “Cross-cutting Alliances Drive Social Change

  1. Just to let you know that after reading this article, I now realize what a positive influence you have working with RIST. You continue to amaze us. I know that all the frustration that you’ve met dealing with all people and organizations will pay off. Keep doing what you’re doing.

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