Meenal Srinivasan

Empowering Underprivileged Youth Through Educational Advancements

Meenal Srinivasan

Founder Trustee,

educo India

At a lively college reunion filled with stories and laughter, Meenal Srinivasan, a Clark University alum, found herself reunited with classmates from 21 countries. Amidst the joyful chatter, she crossed paths with the folks from Educo in Ireland. They were eager to bring their educational vision to India and needed support. This meeting sparked a fire within Meenal—a chance to give back and make a real difference.
From this encounter, Educo emerged, not just as a tuition-free school but as a beacon of modern education in central Mumbai. Partnering with the Municipal Corporation of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), it aimed to provide quality education under the Public-Private partnership policy.
For Meenal, Educo wasn’t just a project—it was a chance to make education accessible to all. It became a symbol of her commitment to creating a world where every child has the opportunity to learn and thrive. This reunion wasn’t just a trip down memory lane; it was the beginning of a journey to reshape education and empower communities, one classroom at a time. 

What motivated you to start this educational initiative, and what life experiences shaped your career focus on education?

The impetus behind my educational initiative stems from my husband’s remarkable journey. Hailing from a modest village in Tamil Nadu, his father, a humble village schoolteacher, laid the foundation for a family rooted in education. Through government schools and colleges, my husband garnered an excellent education, propelling him towards a successful career in Mumbai. My grandfather was a marginal farmer. I cherish the educational opportunities I’ve had, a privilege buoyed by the trailblazing impact of Savitribai Phule. As a woman who understands the significance of education, I’m impassioned to extend this privilege to underprivileged children in Mumbai. My aim is to provide them with exceptional schooling, granting access to the wealth of opportunities this vibrant city presents. This commitment underpins my dedication to creating pathways for equitable education, breaking barriers, and shaping brighter tomorrows for all.

Looking back on your journey, what were the major challenges in education, and how did you tackle them? Additionally, could you highlight key milestones achieved along the way?

The challenges of a fledgling initiative were many. As an accountant, I noted that the economics of a philanthropic education are challenged by the high costs of real estate in the city. Establishing the credibility of a school, where even the poorest parents need to believe in the sincerity of the intent, is crucial. As a non-profit organisation ensuring consistent funds are available for the school, unlike interventions, one cannot increase and decrease programs. The NGO never had the resources for brand building, as philanthropy is driven by brand presence. We are one of the six partners of the MCGM and, therefore, are able to implement the programme by leveraging the municipal infrastructure. As a new non-profit establishing credibility by keeping an eye on quality schooling and success metrics, we went a long way towards becoming a school of choice for the community. As an organisation focused on compliance and transparency, we had donors who rolled their commitments year after year. Being under the radar, non-profit volunteer engagement and word of mouth helped us raise funds as donors could see the impact with their own experiences.

How do you engage local communities and schools to understand educational needs and improve the local ecosystem?

There is a dire need for quality schooling. We are oversubscribed year-on-year, with a waiting list of 2-3 times the intake of students. We have government authorities and politicians pressuring us for admissions, and the community is clamouring for a seat in an English-medium school. Our students, being first-time schoolgoers in their families with an English-medium education, can partake in the career opportunities a booming metropolis offers. The Right to Education mandates a school management committee, and we have a monthly parent-teacher meeting. We also celebrate events with the community, such as Women’s Day, Annual Day and Project Day. We ensure close communication with the parents, who are manual labourers, petty vendors and domestic staff. Due to the open communication channels in our community, many of those who are illiterate feel supported by the school.

What’s your leadership approach to steering an educational NGO like Educo?

My leadership style revolves around empowerment and inspiration. I firmly believe that quality schooling thrives under a strong vision. Our guiding principle at Educo is to “found a lifetime of prosperity,” fostering a school culture where teachers empower students through nurturing care. As a founder and trustee, my vision for scaling Educo’s impact involves leveraging technology as the greatest equalizer. Historically, technology in education has been expensive and ineffective for the masses. To bridge this gap, I’m spearheading a technology initiative aimed at serving the underserved. This approach seeks to democratise access to quality education, extending our reach to more students and communities, thereby scaling Educo’s transformative educational programmes.

What societal change do you anticipate your efforts will yield?

The cornerstone of my efforts lies in the belief that education is a fundamental right, not a privilege. By ensuring the delivery of quality schooling, I envision catalysing substantial social change. I firmly believe that our nation’s potential to become a superpower rests in the hands of our youth, who constitute the largest demographic in the world. Investing in their education isn’t just a necessity; it’s an imperative for India’s ascent to its envisioned heights. Empowering our children through education ensures that India harnesses the potential and talent of its youth, paving the way for a future where the country reaches its aspirations and achieves remarkable success on a global scale.







     







       







         







           







             







               







                 







                   







                     







                       







                         







                           







                             







                               







                                 

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