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Indian students sit in their classroom learning together.

The Akanksha Foundation’s Successful School Model Expands in Maharashtra

The Akanksha Foundation works to ensure all children receive a high-quality education.

Organization Info

The Akanksha Foundation



Organization Lead

Saurabh Taneja, Chief Executive Officer

Foundation Lead

Krishnan Narayanaswamy

Building on the success of the Akanksha Schools network, Akanksha Foundation is leveraging learnings from its whole-school model to boost student outcomes at scale in more than 200 municipal schools in Maharashtra. 

From Schools to Systems

Students need a combination of knowledge and soft skills to succeed in their careers and shape their economic futures. Educational environments that prioritize academic excellence and social-emotional well-being empower students with those essential tools.  However, not all children in India have access to this caliber of schooling — especially those in underserved communities.  

The Akanksha Foundation was established in 1991 to provide high-quality education to children from all backgrounds. In its first 16 years, the nonprofit created 60 after-school centers where professional teachers, social workers, and volunteers provide learning support to more than 3,000 underprivileged children. Today, Akanksha is best known for Akanksha Schools, a group of 26 innovative, no-fee schools. Using the Public–Private Partnership (PPP) model — in which municipal corporations across Maharashtra provide infrastructure while Akanksha manages educators and curriculum — the organization has reached over 13,000 students and more than 850 educators. 

Using this model, the Akanksha Foundation boosts students’ school completion, university success, and economic potential.  

Akanksha Schools receive twice as many applications as available seats. An impressive 100% of students in the program have completed high school, and 96% enroll in higher education. The Akanksha alumni aged between 25-30 also earn double the national average monthly income. 

While this direct model has generated incredible results, the Akanksha team knew that, to scale these outcomes and make a bigger impact, they needed to develop an indirect model for supporting public schools. 

Bringing a Successful Model to Scale 

While education indicators in India have improved in recent years, the gross enrollment ratio has decreased by 3.5% in primary grades, and school dropout rates are as high as 12.6% in secondary grades, according to India’s Economic Survey 2022-23. Additionally, fewer than 25% of primary school students are at grade level in foundational literacy and numeracy, as per ASER 2022. 

To help address these challenges, Akanksha began applying its innovative intervention model within the public school setting. In early 2022, Akanksha launched a program taking key learnings from its whole-school model and applying them to city public schools in Pimpri Chinchwad and Nagpur, two urban centers of Maharashtra.  

The program will expand the Akanksha footprint from 26 schools and 13,000 students to more than 200 schools and 50,000 students.

An instructor trains Indian teachers.
Over the course of the program, the organization will train hundreds of teachers and school leaders, as well as field officers, and institute teacher mentors who provide educators with an additional layer of support and professional development.

Key Focus Areas for Systemic Change

In consultation with education leaders within city administration, Akanksha and another nonprofit, Leadership for Equity, developed a multi-year program centered on five areas of support: 

  • School Readiness & Early Childhood Education: Equipping Balwadi (pre-primary or kindergarten) teachers with training and resources to enhance students’ readiness for primary school 
  • Teacher Development & Support: Shifting the focus of teachers’ professional development from classroom-style training to hands-on enhancement of their skills 
  • School Leader Development: Setting up school leaders for success through workshops and school visits, with a focus on increasing parent participation and community engagement 
  • Field Officer Capacity Building: Supporting administrative officers to drive process improvements and data-led governance 
  • English as a Second Language: Providing resources and proven practices to help teachers and students improve their English language skills, a priority offering for parents and communities 

Since launching its public school program, Akanksha has seen a strong response from teachers, school leaders, and administrators. The program’s school visits indicate early signs of a shift in pedagogy and classroom engagement, leveraging best practices from the whole-school model. The administration is actively involved in co-creating the program and enabling implementation at the school level. 

The Impact of Systems Transformation    

Over the next three years, the project will build on these focus areas to improve learning outcomes in foundational literacy and numeracy and social and emotional learning for students attending these city public schools. If successful, the program will demonstrate how lessons learned from high-quality schools can be implemented at scale. Akanksha has built a model with the potential to help transform education systems and impact millions of children across India.