Ritika’s childhood was nurtured with stories of freedom fighters and autobiographies of great visionaries. She was always conditioned to believe that she was born to do great things. Growing up, when she would see children begging and lying in poor health on the streets, it would really burn her. She always wondered why things were such and what could be done do to make them better.
One day while returning from school on the 26th of July 2005, she was stranded on the highway for a few hours due to heavy floods. She heard floating stories of children going missing and losing their lives due to open manholes. That was one of the defining moments when she decided that she really needed to do something to bring about change. She started taking baby steps, first, she became the president of the Rotract Club in school and undertook some charitable work. Then, when school ended, she moved on to college and things changed, she was no more president of the Rotract Club and she had a new environment to adjust to. In college she joined the Entrepreneurship Cell and went on to become the co-coordinator. One day while she was listening to a guest speaker talk on social entrepreneurship; he narrated a young boy’s story who was creating change in his own slum community using football as a medium. She was the same age as the boy in the story. That day, she was touched, moved and immensely inspired. That very day she decided to take the first step and start something in the field of education. She believed that education holds the key to a new tomorrow. She immediately wrote to the guest speaker who was the Director of Ashoka’s Youth Venture Program (a fellowship program that supports young change-makers globally) and was invited to their meet. She happened to receive a fellowship from Ashoka’s Youth Venture and that led to the beginning of My India Empowered, now Young Innovators Foundation.
Young Innovators Foundation had a humble beginning on the 17th of August 2008 when Founder, Ritika Arya (who was only a teenager back then) began teaching 4 children from a nearby slum in the living room of her home. The children began to enjoy the sessions and requested to bring in more of their friends. Soon, Co‐Founders, Srishti Arya and Priyam Datta joined Ritika in her endeavour to provide education to the under‐resourced children, with the same passion and enthusiasm that she possessed! With limited experience in teaching, these young fellows followed their heart and treaded an un‐trodden path!
Eventually... the numbers grew and we shifted from the living room to a lawn, from the lawn into a classroom at a nearby school and finally from a school into a jungle (Sanjay Gandhi National Park)! More volunteers, more children and more fun happened... Along the way we also met like minded (and not so like minded) mentors, donors, supporters, educators, friends, well‐wishers & contributors who played their part in helping us learn and grow. Many of whom are still nurturing the space.
We’ve always been involved in thorough research and development within the dynamic field of education. Over time, we have learnt and taken inspiration from several institutes, approaches and philosophies, some of them being:
As of today we have created our own curriculum and approach to ‘Education’, which we continue to develop further as we grow in our understanding of all things within and without.