In 2005, Clay Castrission took a trip to a remote Indian village. His trip, in combination with his study of law at the University of Sydney, inspired him to combat poverty in developing countries. As Castrission has said, he left the village by making “a very, very vague promise to build them a school.” Five years later, Castrission fulfilled his promise and more by starting the 40K Group.
The cost of building the vaguely promised school would have been $40,000. Thus, the name of Castrission’s humanitarian project became “40K.” By raising 10 times his original goal in just five years, Castrission’s efforts have helped increase enrollment levels and effectiveness of primary education in India.
The 40K Group is a compilation of three initiatives, each based in Australia, seeking to provide relief in developing areas of India. The first sector of the 40K Group is the 40K Foundation. The Foundation organizes after-school programs called “40K PLUS” for primary school-aged children.
All 40K PLUS programs are supplied with tablets that have educational math and reading programs. The children use the tablets during the after-school programs to supplement their in-school education. Through the reinforced learning, the students become more successful in school. Successful students are less likely to drop-out of school, which is good news for the Indian educational system which currently has one of the highest drop-out rates for primary school-aged children (42 percent).
40K PLUS is also good news for students in rural India, where only 2.2 percent of children have access to computers in school. The 40K Foundation exposes children to technology while supplementing the lessons that they are learning in school already.
The best news of all: the families of children enrolled in 40K PLUS pay one dollar per month for complete use of the Foundation’s services. Therefore, most families can afford to send their children to the after-school programs.
Of course, one dollar a month per enrolled child is not enough to sustain all of the “pod” centers for 40K PLUS in India. For this reason, many of the programs are supported by donations from the 40K Group’s other two sectors: 40K Globe and 40K Consulting.
40K Globe runs a program that sends students from Australian universities and other young Australians to India for one month at a time to experience life as an intern in the field of social business. The hope of 40K Globe is that participants will learn more about why helping developing nations is so important, and that the skills they learn in India will allow them to combine future business endeavors with philanthropy.
40K Consulting is a program that teaches pre-existing Australian businesses to use their products and wealth to help in India. Similar to the skills taught by 40K Globe, the consulting program teaches big business leaders how to integrate social missions into their business’s goals.
In the coming five years, the 40K Group hopes to educate 6,000 Indian children through its various programs. The 40K Foundation is currently in the process of comparing students’ test results from 2013 with those of 2014 to determine the success of the after-school programs in India. If success rates are high, the 40K Group may expand their outreach to one or two more developing countries that are struggling to provide primary education to children.
— Emily Walthouse
Sources: 40RTYK, Pro Bono Australia, 40RTYK Globe, UNICEF