Innovate ways to expand knowledge for the children in the under-served communities by understanding their culture and enabling access to books and other forms of education.
A quality education is intangible and priceless, and creating more availability to quality education gives the world the gift of knowledge. For giving to the community, both local and global, is our duty and service as citizens of the world!
What We Do
Learning Spaces was founded with the intention of helping underprivileged or discriminated kids throughout California and hopefully the world by providing them with access to books and other methods of education. This ties in with UN’s “Quality education” and “Reduced Inequality” Sustainable Development goals. We believe that by giving kids the opportunity to read and learn, they can gain knowledge and combat the stereotypes placed on them.
Currently, we focus on multiple initiatives:
Project Library: Enrich libraries in the under-funded schools in the US
Access to books is the first step to building knowledge and not all children have that access! To enable that access, we conduct book drives in our cities to share with the schools in those areas that do not have enough books to lend to their students. Many under-funded public schools do not have books beyond their suggested textbooks. Developing a strong library in those schools would encourage children to read more.
Project Library: Establish libraries in villages of India to encourage children to read
Lack of libraries in the rural villages means that books are not easily accessible for the children there. Research has shown that having libraries in local areas encourages children to build a reading habit. Partnering with Eurekha Superkidz and AID India, we aim to establish libraries in 1000 villages in India by end of 2021 and that that would reach over 50,000 children. In addition, we hope to be able to measure reading habits and have book club-based group discussions to build a reading habit.
Project Read: Promote reading in US underfunded schools.
We believe that reading as a habit is important to learn. Knowledge would empower people to combat inequality. Establishing a library is a first step. However, encouraging the children to read often is the key to expanding their aperture of the world. Our goal is to ensure we encourage them to read as much as possible.
Learning Beyond Limits: Teach middle school students in rural India to read and write in English
Covid forced schools to shut down in many rural areas in India. Children from low-income families are especially affected due to this. To empower them to learn, we found that it was critical to teach them to read and write. Without the ability to read, they would not be able to expand their knowledge in any subject. We have partnered with AidIndia’s Eurekha Education program and as TeenAiders teach such kids virtually.
COVID-19 relief efforts in rural villages
COVID revealed the inequalities in our societies, and we saw that the villages in which we teach were more affected due to COVID. The lack of infrastructure stemming from poverty and remote location coupled with lack awareness of COVID-hygiene worsened the situation. This became more evident when the second wave hit these places. We partnered with Youth Circle and AIDIndia to raise funds to support care for these villages. While initial focus was care, we are now pivoting to vaccination drives.
Advay Chandra, Co-founder and Co-President
Advay Chandra is a high school student at San Diego, California. He is interested in understanding the educational gaps and reforms in different cultures, geography, and groups. He is studying how culture and education are related and how we could bring equality in education. He aims to contribute to under-privileged children’s education as he believes that would help them get the confidence to combat inequality. His other interests include psychology, history, government, and politics. In his spare time, he loves participating in debate and Model United Nations. He also enjoys practicing and teaching Taekwondo.Do check out his Blog page related to topics on education.
Aarav Chandra, Co-founder and Co-President
Aarav Chandra is a high school student at San Diego, California. He is passionate about helping educate children in low incomes families. He believes that the economic status of a child’s family should not be the reason why she or he is unable to receive quality education. Aarav is fascinated by the complexity of the brain and is interested in topics related to neuroscience. He enjoys learning advanced math concepts and teaching them to other students as well. Aarav also tutors math for school students. In his spare time, he enjoys playing golf, practicing and teaching Taekwondo as well as taking part in math competitions.
Check out Aarav’s neuroblogwhere he writes about the brain!
Lance Johnson, Director of Programs and Outreach, San Diego Chapter
Lance Johnson is a high school student in San Diego, California. Lance is interested in biology and the practical applications of engineering in the biomedical field. Some of his other interests include chemistry and European history. Lance is devoted to combatting education inequality by connecting with Title 1 schools in the San Diego area to provide students with the tools they need to succeed. Additionally, Lance regularly travels to Tijuana, Mexico to construct houses in impoverished communities, and helps stream church services while churches have been closed during the COVID-19 pandemic. In his spare time, Lance enjoys practicing soccer, playing the guitar, and tutoring students in math and history.
Elizabeth Jin, Creative Director
Elizabeth Jin is a sophomore at the Bishop’s School, San Diego. She works at Learning Spaces as a Creative Director. She manages the illustration for the “I can be” inspirational book series that is being launched in several remote villages in India with the goal of encouraging children to read. Elizabeth started drawing when she was five and began digital illustration in 2017. She tends to rotate between hobbies often but currently ukulele and embroidery have caught up her interest. Elizabeth shares “I realized ever since I was eight that inequality in education was one of the main origins for general inequality and have struggled with understanding how to even contribute to solving such a central issue since; now, it seems only right to me to use my creative skills and passion toward issues I care about.” In addition to Learning Spaces, she works as an artist with Melodies for Remedies as their social media manager and performer.
Rohan Dalal, President and Director of Programs and Outreach, Atlanta Chapter
Rohan Dalal is a sophomore at Johns Creek High School in Georgia. He is passionate about Math and enjoys teaching the subject to students at school. He represents his school in national quiz bowl competitions. Rohan also volunteers in the local elementary schools and is a coach for their math teams. His goal is to see every child get strong at math as he believes that it would develop problem solving and critical thinking skills. Over the next few years, Rohan aims to expand the San Diego chapter initiatives in Atlanta beginning with strengthening the under-funded school libraries. Rohan is a Boy Scout and in his free time he enjoys coding and doing karate.
“We must be the change we wish to see in the world” (M. K. Gandhi)
Gurugram, India (2017)
It all started with our volunteering with an orphanage in Gurgaon, India in 2017. We spent our 8th grade in India as our parents worked there for that year. With two other friends, our Sunday early morning routine included teaching basketball to kids who were in a hostel meant for under-privileged kids. While we taught them how to play basketball, we observed the inequality these kids faced, and a lot stemmed from their lack of quality education. Would things be different if they all had the education we had?
Cusco, Peru (2019)
We went to Cusco, Peru to volunteer in the summer of 2019. We volunteered there for 10 days with a hostel that helped kids from native Peruvian families to get through high school and go for higher learning. It was eye opening to us to see the children being discriminated in their own land. Some of them had notebooks stolen from their school while others were treated differently due to the poverty status. These kids were still struggling to read and write in English while others in their school could do it easily. We were overwhelmed when we visited their homes. Their living conditions were very poor, and many did not even have a stove to cook or a proper place to sleep. Should a child’s learning suffer because of his/her economic conditions?
San Diego, CA (2020)
Left: Project Library with Clark Middle School, San Diego
Right: Writing by a student in India (LBL program with Teen AIDers)
We had to empower such children to combat inequality and what better way to start than to help them gain knowledge. With that in mind, we started Learning Spaces in the Summer of 2020 when we realized that teaching children to read and providing them with access to books would be a first step to reducing inequality. 2020 was also a year that brought to light inequality issues in a big way. Specifically, we realized that knowledge could have a profound impact in shaping a child’s confidence and in enabling them to dream big. A child’s economic status determines whether they get access to books to read. We wanted to break that and reduce inequality by providing knowledge in any form to such children.
Learning Beyond Limits
Partnership with AID India as TeenAiders
54 Middle School students in remote parts of India are now able to read and write better as a result of English Read and Write program