After summer trips to India encouraged Anish Patel to make a difference, he founded Uplift Humanity. Now, over four years later, the Stern junior has led the nonprofit to significant growth and expansion from the grass roots of forming a group of students to volunteer at juvenile facilities and detention centers.
With branches already established in Vadadora, Hyderabad and Indore, Uplift has just announced its newest location for this summer — New Delhi, the capital and second most populous city in India.
What differentiates Uplift from many other organizations is that it reaches out to youth in juvenile detention centers, a group not often recognized for needing help.
“In India, people don’t really pay attention to or focus on the problem of juveniles,” Patel said.
Patel explained that a gap is created when youths are left alone in these centers because of their crime, but he believes this isolation should be tackled differently.
“The actual way to look at it is: if these kids have committed some kind of crime, the only way they can assimilate back into society is through education,” Patel said.
Consequently, the organization focuses on teaching lessons in fundamental skills such as anger management, tactics to avoid peer pressure, relationship building, goal setting and career counseling. The youth can apply these to their daily lives to prevent them from ending up at the facilities again.
In addition to this three-week summer initiative, the organization uses the Uplift Continuation program as a way to continue administering these life skills as well as enforcing an educational curriculum long after the summer program is over.
Uplift has partnered with local volunteers and educators to teach math, English, computer literacy and academic skills that cannot be established in just a month during the summer.
The program is run and supported by a team of educators, advisers and students who serve as volunteers. Executive board members, comprising both current NYU students and alumni, also play a role.
As for the future, Patel plans to launch in new locations and increase their impact across India and other urban areas.
“Our main goal is to spread awareness for this cause and make sure our work is being done everywhere in India,” Patel said. “This is a huge goal, but I think you can only get far if you have that big goal going forward for you.”
Patel said his passion for the cause and desire to make an impact push him to keep going.
“Uplift does something very different that other people don’t realize that there is a need for,” Patel said. “That is something that really drives and propels me to bring awareness for this cause.”
Although non-profit is what the Stern business curriculum recognizes as a “risky endeavor,” Patel encourages other NYU students to act upon their passions to bring change to the world just as he did.
“Keep pursuing it,” Patel said. “What you do matters and whether it is on a smaller or larger scale, any sort of difference will make some sort of change.”
A version of this article was published in the Thursday, April 30 print edition. Email Tiffanie Hwang at [email protected]