Disenfranchised Youth Become Social Leaders

Date: August 21, 2014 Category: ,

Community Youth Collective
Learning and Leadership Journey

Project Leaders: Dr. Nila Vora and Jagjit Jain
In Partnership with Pravah

Location Target Community
Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh SC/ST and other underprivileged youth whose parents are mostly daily wage laborers; in addition to working in around 130 schools in Itarsi, schools in Betul have been contacted
Seoni, Madhya Pradesh Students from grades 9–12 who come from families with small farms and migrate to cities to work as daily wage laborers in order to supplement their farm income
Namkhana, West Bengal Young men and women in the rural area of West Bengal, a small village called Namkhana in the Sundarbans area
Nonkrem Village, East Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya Young people in the village who are unemployed or have dropped out and resorted to substance abuse


Youth leaders are supported through a program known as Changelooms, which is a designed intervention to take youth on a Learning and Leadership Journey. The journey involves learning and engagement through readings, structured experiences, cross-learning, and real world action through mentoring.  Leaders develop skills in the following areas:

  • Instructional Design and Facilitation
  • Team Building
  • Proposal Development
  • Relationships and Relating
  • Measuring Impact
  • Networking and Advocacy
  • Deep Self Awareness
  • Youth Development Perspectives


Through the support of IDS to four rural fellows, the lives of over 3198 young people have been impacted directly in remote areas of Madhya Pradesh, Meghalaya and West Bengal. The collective impact of changeloomers is extensive because they have worked with different constituencies—teachers, rural youth, slum youth, urban and middle class youth—both in and outside the school environment.  Their work spans interventions in the fields of education, youth development, entrepreneurship development, and prevention against gender based violence.


  •  1500 young people in West Bengal received gender-based violence (GBV) training, education on how GBV affects their own lives, GBV prevention, and learned how to address GBV issues to support their communities.
  • 405 students in Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh attended the summer program; 160 students applied for higher education to various universities. Typically, students are first-generation learners whose parents work as laborers in the unorganized sector and their families earn less than Rs. 30,000 per year.
  • 72 students were trained in entrepreneurship development; 4 young people have started their own rural enterprises in pig rearing in rural Meghalaya

Movement of teams in terms of the number of team members, volunteers, direct and indirect outreach, and resources mobilized.

Team size Volunteers Direct outreach Indirect outreach Resources mobilized (Rs.)
Before After Before After Before After Before After Before After
Itarsi, Madhya Pradesh 6 4 17 5 1,000 1,500 400 600 15000 40000
Seoni, Madhya Pradesh 4 4 32 200 10,000 12,200 1,000 4000 300000 1400000
Namkhana, West Bengal 4 8 4 10 30 220 1,100 600 125000 238000
Nonkrem Village, East Khasi Hills District, Meghalaya 8 8 0 15 52 360 0 0 95000 0
Aggregate IDS Supported Impact 22 24 53 230 11,082 14,280 2,500 5200 535000 1678000


Through reflection, feedback and analysis of the program, we have found that several components have been working well while others areas need further strengthening.

  •  Mentoring remains a critical component of the program, and the Changelooms’ executive team spends a considerable amount of time mentoring teams. Identifying external team mentors would strengthen and streamline the process.
  • Young leaders are challenged to sustain themselves long-term. Even though the program focuses on building skills related to advocacy, writing and displaying their work, a greater need seems to be to advocate for youth work and acquire active and sustainable support for such work.


Propagation and Growth
In the coming year, the Changelooms program will support and strengthen the work of alumni in different parts of the country in an effort to deepen their work and reach out to young social entrepreneurs who have already started their change initiatives as well as who have innovative change ideas they wish to implement.  This will help to decentralize the program as well as provide outreach, recognition, and support to many more deserving youth leaders.

To learn more about this project, go to Community Youth Collective Learning and Leadership Journey.