Lotus Outreach received $22,000 to pay for 144 girls to attend secondary school via transport on a safe, reliable bus for one school year. Our funding will directly create access to education that is unavailable otherwise.

Description of Project/Program, what makes it compelling, and the specific needs it will address:

Blossom Bus (BB) provides safe, reliable transit to school for girls who have no alternate mechanism of attending secondary school. It is a simple, scalable and highly impactful solution to a problem plaguing rural Indian villages, who in 2009 had 0 girls attending school beyond the 8th grade (of 85 villages surveyed).

Girls were previously unable to attend school due to the lengthy commute by foot and the high risk of sexual violence along the rural roads; instead of schooling, most are married young and all left uneducated. There are no alternative public transportation options available in these areas served.

Blossom Bus is a straightforward, transparent and highly effective model that provides life opportunities to women.

Describe the Organization or Project as it pertains to the following Impact Giving Grant Standards-

High Impact & Life Transforming:

BB completely transforms the lives of its riders, providing access to an education that will open doors to a higher quality of life – for both the individuals and their families.

Without BB, school is only accessible for girls locally through Grade 5, with transport to secondary school (>Grade 6) unavailable. Secondary school is too far for these girls to walk safely due to high rates of sexual violence in the area, so most girls are forbidden from continuing their education.

BB provides the highest impact directly to these girls, whose lives are forever transformed via access to this education. 

Education:

Blossom Bus is entirely about education, providing the only means by which these girls can get schooling at the secondary level. More girls are present at every grade level and graduation rates increase annually.

BB graduates are hired as tutors to provide additional education opportunities in the villages.

BB now has a College Bus, serving 40 first-generation college students.

Sustainability:

Lotus Outreach consistently lobbies the government to construct more secondary schools in rural areas, and with the growth of the BB program the awareness around girls’ education is growing locally.

The bus has not stopped running since 2009. In the case of funding gaps, Lotus Outreach will divert other program funds to ensure the girls continue to receive their education via the BB transport.

Community Building:

Extensive community building is essential to BB success. Lotus’ India country representatives engage with families, community leaders and schools to ensure acceptance of the program and to convince locals of bus safety/security. This is enhanced by employing local drivers whom families trust.

BB functions on a high level of community support, and has created high demand for its services (growing from 30 to 322 girls). BB is breaking down social stigmas and fears around girls attending school and thus completely transforming communities.

Innovative:

BB is the only initiative of its kind in the district, and the only access to school these girls have. Its innovation lies in its simplicity and its highly tangible solution to a prevalent problem.

Also innovative is the setup: by contracting with drivers who assume responsibility for bus maintenance and gas, BB assumes none of the liabilities associated with the bus. Funds donated go directly toward sponsoring girls on the bus.

Measurable:

Lotus tracks grade-level pass rates and monitors ridership. Attendance must be >80% to maintain a seat on the bus, and Lotus partners with the schools to track compliance.

Lotus has served over 688 girls since 2009, and now has 7 buses going to 19 villages and 2 high schools. There are now 50% more girls attending high school than in 2010.

Organization’s Mission Statement:

Lotus Outreach’s mission is to ensure the education, health, and safety of at-risk women and children in the developing world.

Link to the website:   www.lotusoutreach.org