Context: Despite the fact that the Right to Education Act mandates and funds universal primary education for Indian boys and girls up to grade 8, over 60% of girls in rural West Bengal have dropped out of school by grade 8 and less than 20% of girls complete grade 10. Factors contributing to the high dropout rates among girls include poverty, lack of familial support for education, and early marriage.

Organization: Founded in 1985, Nishtha is the only nongovernmental organization in its vicinity of rural West Bengal. Nishtha addresses some of the key issues of poverty in the area –lack of education; lack of credit; and poor health –by providing or making accessible education, credit and health services. It works closely with villagers to ensure that its approaches are compatible with their realities. Nishtha has also developed a highly effective approach to girls’ and women’s empowerment.

Current Grant: EMpower’s final grant to Nishtha enables 750 girls to complete 2 years of schooling, 120 girls to learn a vocational skill, protect against early marriage for girls in the communities, and enable the construction of a vocational training center so girls can learn skills to earn a livelihood.

India Contact: Mina Das Contact Email: Year Established: 1985