Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs and Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, who are advancing the UN SDGs.
Hi friends, it’s Spiffy, back again on Planet Earth with an eye on entrepreneurs making the world a more equitable place! I have one more interview for you this week. Today I’m excited to cruise around with Richa Shivangi Gupta, the CEO of the Labhya Foundation. Are you ready to be inspired?
Spiffy: Welcome, Richa. Let’s jump right in. Can you tell me what challenge the Labhya Foundation is addressing?
Richa: I’m happy to be here today, Spiffy—thanks for having me! Children from low socio-economic and vulnerable backgrounds are unable to cope with poverty. Currently, 128 million children are enrolled in the Indian public education system and are unable to cope with the consequences of poverty, which leads to reduced attentiveness, lack of curiosity, demotivation and anger, etc. The Indian public education system lacks the area expertise to equip these children with the necessary skills to tackle poverty, cope with their reality, and become healthy, effective learners.
Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?
Richa: I’m a teacher turned entrepreneur. I began teaching at the age of 16 and have spent a decade teaching in low-income classrooms across India. While working with children and unfortunately losing children to poverty, crime, and other adversities, I realized that my purpose was to serve vulnerable children through education.
Spiffy: Wow, 16, that’s inspiring! Can you elaborate what the impact of your work is?
Richa: Our programs are enabling 2.4 million children enrolled in Indian public schools to become effective learners through Social Emotional Learning. The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) conducted an external evaluation on one of our programs where - 87% teachers reported a positive behavioral change in children, and significant improvement in key parameters like school attendance, resilience, relationship skills, and motivation to learn.
Spiffy: Tell me about a recent milestone or initiative by the foundation, and the effect it has on your target community.
Richa: Recently, the United Nations recognised me as one of 17 SDG Young Leaders to represent SDG 4 (Quality Education) globally. This recognition and two-year support will help Labhya in amplifying the need for children’s emotional wellbeing and in mobilizing resources to reach our goal of impacting 30 million children by 2030.
Spiffy: All the power to you! Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?
Richa: Neelu (name changed) studies in a public school in India, and her parents often sleep hungry so she doesn’t have to. She has internalized this stress, and can’t speak openly with them about how it affects her or her schooling. Labhya’s program provided her with the language, tools, and the space to understand her emotions and communicate with her parents about them. Neelu, like millions of students who are impacted by Labhya programs, saw qualitative improvements in her emotional health. Our long-term vision is to enable 30 million Neelus by 2030.
Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Richa—it’s been an honor!
Richa Shivangi Gupta is the CEO and co-founder at Labhya Foundation, an India-based education nonprofit impacting 2.4 million vulnerable children. She is an SDG Young Leader recognised by the UN and a DRK Entrepreneur. Richa holds a Masters’ in Education Policy from Harvard University. (First published on the Ladderworks website on December 2, 2022.)© 2022 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.