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Educate Girls

September 24, 2018

Founded in 2007, Educate Girls (EG) is an NGO dedicated to reducing gender inequality in India by facilitating education for out of school girls in educationally disadvantaged districts. Eleven years on, what began as a pilot of 500 schools has expanded to programming in 26,000+ schools across 16 districts in India. EG has aligned its goals with the SDGs – helping to scale impact and provide additional funding, evaluation and reporting tools. Since its inception, EG has leveraged existing community and government resources to promote the economic, social and behavioral transformation of girls in India.

EG’s diversified funding sources, specifically its flexible, multi-year funding, have enabled its transformative scale. Half of about 30 funders commit to at least three years of funding. Anchor funders support EG based on outcomes in line with their five-year strategy, and provide an incentive for other donors to join with more flexibility. Founder Safeena Husain notes, “What you can do depends so much on what kind of money you get, and determines the change and impact you are able to achieve.” By leveraging existing public, private and community resources, EG’s philanthropic financing has helped to create community ownership of government schools and encourage government participation.

Early support came from the DASRA Giving Circle donor collaborative, providing core support to develop and implement its impact assessment strategy- a tool which has enabled EG to quickly adapt and respond to needs, demonstrate continued impact, forge new partnerships, and attract additional resources necessary to scale. LGT in 2011 gave a $500,000 performance-dependent grant and has recently made a million-dollar commitment. The Mulago Foundation and Jasmine Social Investments since 2013 have given unrestricted funding, and Husain notes, “You can get much higher levels of learning outcomes for the poorest children since the money is more flexible.” In 2015, Husain also won the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, providing a three-year, $1.25 million core support grant. More recently, EG launched a three-year Development Impact Bond (DIB), with investments from other funders, and surpassed both its learning and enrollment targets in 2018. They are able to use this well in part because of their other core funding, which provides important complementarity.

Impact is measured through rigorous measurement of enrollment, retention and learning. However, not all funders provide support for monitoring and evaluation, which can be problematic, and reporting can otherwise take valuable time away from actual program work. Unrestricted funders, including DASRA, accept one uniform report. With outcome-based grants, EG has moved from an activity-based budget to an outcome-based budget and tailored reporting.

While new funders open new doors, performance-based grants and line item budgeting can be a challenge. EG also struggles with getting sufficient multi-year donor commitments. With longer terms and increased flexibility from funders, “We overachieve,” notes Husain.

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