Akasha Innovation

Akasha Innovation: Training for Young Changemakers

London, United KingdomLondon, United Kingdom
Year Founded:
2013
Organization type: 
nonprofit/ngo/citizen sector
Project Stage:
Growth
Budget: 
$10,000 - $50,000
Project Summary
Elevator Pitch

Concise Summary: Help us pitch this solution! Provide an explanation within 3-4 short sentences.

Young changemakers cannot afford the costs of higher education and unpaid internships. The Akasha Akademy is learning for life: lifelong learning without the fees that take a lifetime to pay off. It offers transformative courses to train young people to tackle social and environmental challenges.

WHAT IF - Inspiration: Write one sentence that describes a way that your project dares to ask, "WHAT IF?"

What if we could prepare, inspire and empower a new generation of changemakers to co-create a world for all life to flourish in?
About Project

Problem: What problem is this project trying to address?

A new generation is inheriting a world full of crises not of its making. But we are also taking from them opportunities to address these social and environmental challenges. Young people are struggling to find the affordable and accessible education that would empower them to make their own positive impact for people and planet. We are at risk of losing an entire generation and our best hope to create a better future for people and planet.

Solution: What is the proposed solution? Please be specific!

The Akasha Akademy provides young people with affordable courses to transform them into effective changemakers. Basecamp is an interactive online course that helps build the mindsets and skillsets that are essential to thrive as a changemaker within any organisation or working independently to create positive change. The Quest is a blended-learning course that adds personal coaching and mentoring to help young people apply their changemaker mindsets and skillsets to their own project or collaborate within our community on a shared enterprise. The Journey is our most advanced course and offers regular immersive residential experiences. All three courses are affordable and allow young people to learn at their own pace and in their own time.

Awards

EY Accelerate Programme 2015, Ashoka ChangemakerXchange 2015, Impact Hub "Impact Investment Readiness Programme" 2014, RSA Kickstarter Crowdfunding Campaign 2013
Impact: How does it Work

Example: Walk us through a specific example(s) of how this solution makes a difference; include its primary activities.

The Akasha Akademy has offered Chris an alternative to his experience of the consumer-model of higher education. The outcome of his training has been the discovery of a purpose and passion to pursue a career path in environmental change. The personal coaching and mentoring support has helped him cultivate mindsets, drawn from positive psychology, which he needs to flourish as a changemaker: mindfulness, hopefulness, care, authenticity and appreciation. He is also developing new skillsets drawn from complexity theory and systems thinking: impact mapping, futures design, community empowerment, creative storytelling and appreciative strategy. He continues to receive support after making the decision to look further into these ideas in a PhD.

Impact: What is the impact of the work to date? Also describe the projected future impact for the coming years.

We delivered a pilot twelve-week course for twelve young people from ten different countries between September and December 2014. The participants rated the programme and the delivery of the course objectives at a mean average of 4.43 out of 5, indicating excellent to perfect. They also rated their own development of the key mindsets and skillsets at 4.23 out of 5, also indicating excellent to perfect. A summary of the impact assessment can be found here: http://akashainnovation.org/index.php/young-pioneers-programme-impact-report/. Success for the Akasha Akademy starts with graduating 1000 changemakers from Basecamp. We have developed an innovative model of impact assessment that enables each changemaker to participate in measuring their own transformative growth as they learn the foundations of each mindset and skillset.

Spread Strategies: Moving forward, what are the main strategies for scaling impact?

Basecamp offers a foundation that appeals to a large market of young people interested in making a positive change. As an interactive online course, Basecamp is currently being marketed to students in universities in London with a view to use this as a springboard for extending our reach to young people from around the world. In 2016, we aim to launch The Quest, which will mean a qualitative growth for the organisation and the changemakers we work with and will promote the Akasha Akademy through the success of a community of changemakers.
Sustainability

Financial Sustainability Plan: What is this solution’s plan to ensure financial sustainability?

The Akasha Akademy works with a mixed revenue model. All three courses are available for a flat rate fee with optional add-ons. Basecamp can create a surplus to build its own scholarship fund and subsidise the individual support in the advanced courses. We also actively seek funding from sponsoring organisations and grant-making bodies to ensure that the programme is accessible to everyone.

Marketplace: Who else is addressing the problem outlined here? How does the proposed project differ from these approaches?

Ashoka and UnLtd provide extensive support to changemakers. Through the concept of “learning for life”, the Akasha Akademy guides young changemakers through each step of their journey. Learning for life helps young people discover their unique purpose and is fuelled by their passion. Also, learning for life never ends; so we support young people beyond graduation. Finally, learning for life is in service of people and planet. Life on Earth has learned to survive and thrive over 3.8 billion years and this wisdom is essential to empower young people to create a world for all life to flourish in.
Team

Founding Story

Greta was the president of the Amnesty International and Model United Nations societies, and attended the Clinton Global Initiative University, which inspired her to deliver her successful Youth and Human Rights Project. She has always been passionate about providing other young people with similar life-changing opportunities to play their role in society. But the increasing tuition fees are excluding young people from education or saddling them with debt. So Greta approached Dr. Mark Spokes, an experienced educator and mentor in transformative learning, to create Akasha Innovation and provide affordable training and practical experience to empower young changemakers.

Team

The current core team comprises of two people: Greta Rossi and Dr. Mark Spokes. Greta Rossi is the co-founder and the Chief Empathy Officer of Akasha Innovation. Greta ensures the smooth running of the social enterprise and is involved in the Akasha Akademy as an educator and youth coach. Dr. Mark Spokes is the other co-founder of Akasha Innovation and the Akademic Director of the Akasha Akademy. Mark designs the courses for the Akasha Akademy using over a decade of experience in transformative learning and mentoring in higher education and social enterprise. As the Akasha Akademy evolves, we aim to recruit people to cover the following roles: finance / marketing lead; youth coach / mentor; community enabler; and changemaker ambassador.
Background
Please confirm how you heard about the Unilever Awards:

Ashoka ChangemakerXchange

Please confirm your role in the initiative (eg Founder/co-Founder) and your organisational title:

Co-founder, Chief Empathy Officer (CEO)

Which of the 8 UN Global Goals (Sustainable Development Goals) pre-selected for this competition does your solution relate most closely to? [select all that apply]

Decent Work and Economic Growth.

Leadership and the Unilever Awards
Please provide examples of any previous entrepreneurial initiatives you have pioneered.

In 2013, Greta successfully raised £11,000 for Akasha Innovation through crowdfunding to guarantee full scholarships for the first cohort of young changemakers. The Royal Society for the Encouragement of the Arts, Manufactures and Commerce (RSA) selected this as their featured campaign on their Kickstarter page after inviting Greta to become a fellow. In 2015, Greta has been accepted as a fellow of the EY Accelerate Programme 2015 to work with a coach to improve her business skills and financial sustainability of the Akasha Akademy. Also in 2015, Greta has qualified as a coach from the Ministry of Entrepreneurship and has been invited to co-facilitate a series of entrepreneurship workshops for the New Entrepreneurs Foundation.

Beyond your existing team, who else are you working with to achieve your objectives, eg partners, advisors, mentors?

The work of Akasha Innovation has attracted the support of top advisors from organisations such as the Elders, Save the Children, Impact Hub, and University College London. Giles Hutchins, the celebrated author of “The Nature of Business” and “The Illusion of Separation”, is one of our advisors and endorsed our work with young people after joining one of our workshops: “Akasha Innovation provides much needed expertise, insight and support to empower students and young innovators to make transformative change a reality.”

We also work with leading organisations in the fields of education and social change, such as The Exponentials and Positive News. Seán Dagan Wood, the editor of Positive News reported: “The team at Akasha Innovation have built a powerful, holistic approach to helping people create positive impact in their own lives and the world. They integrate diverse viewpoints and cutting edge learning with a wisdom that takes our understanding of sustainability and leadership to a new level.”

We are now starting to work more closely with other like-minded organisations working with young changemakers. Pioneering organisation Ashoka is amongst our backers: “The world needs every young person to contribute to positive social change. The Akasha Akademy gives you the right training to master the mindsets and skillsets you need to make it as a changemaker.” (Matthias Scheffelmeier, Ashoka Europe)

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