Intensive Facebook Campaign Helps SEWA International’s ASPIRE Tutorials Win a Grant of $25,000

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Sewa Aspire Campaign picture

By Umang Thanki & Jackson Courter

HOUSTON: State Farm’s recent competition known as Neighborhood Assist provided a significant opportunity for Sewa as it challenged community members to vouch for a cause and earn $25,000 that can be used to promote it. The general procedure involved selecting an area to support and providing a grant statement that explained the organization’s purpose for applying. Determined with its ongoing ASPIRE program, Sewa’s position advocated for education. After submitting the application, Sewa was placed in the top 400 of the approximately 4000 that had applied across the different categories. At that point, an exclusive Facebook voting system was instilled in the sense that the number of “likes” on an organization’s page would determine their chances of winning – which means being in the top 40 in the leaderboard during the end of the voting period.

After Sewa was selected in the first phase, the Facebook voting process set off as organizations members spread the information of their cause to the greater community. And with the immense support of friends and family from the USA, Canada, UK, Australia, Japan, and India, Sewa secured a healthy rank of 19 when the polls closed. It was also the only charity from Texas to have made it to the top 40.

The additional money gained from this grant is extremely important as it will allow Sewa to buttress the infrastructure of the tutoring program as a whole as well as to have a continuous volunteering pool throughout the year. In other words, the money will ensure a smooth and productive continuation of the ASPIRE program and hence the betterment of the lives of refugee children in the years ahead.

Integral to the mission of the Houston chapter of Sewa International is its partnership with the AmeriCorps VISTA program, which for 50 years has been sending volunteers, known as VISTAs, to work in nonprofit organizations around the country. Their goal is to build the capacity of the organizations they work for. Being a VISTA is more than a job, it is a lifestyle. VISTAs live among the populations they serve, and are paid a poverty-level living allowance. The growth of the ASPIRE program is a direct result of the Sewa VISTAs’ dedication to understanding the plight of the refugees in Houston and implementation of methods to give them the tools to bring themselves out of poverty. Such growth would be impossible without the VISTAs’ ground-level perspective on poverty that leads them to make community service a way of life.

The future of Sewa is very promising as it already has established centers all around the world and is growing significantly as new challenges to humanity arise. Although societal idealism cannot be practically realized, Sewa’s efforts are definitely approaching the end goal of a happy world, one step at a time. To know more about Aspire tutorials please email Kavita Tewary @ educationhouston@sewausa.org

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