Kusuma Excellence Fellowships

Supporting talented students to thrive

“Many talented, intelligent students in India are being held back by their backgrounds.” says Soma, Kusma Trust’s Executive Trustee.

“Our aim was for students from disadvantaged and marginalised backgrounds to have more opportunities to progress to higher education, and to thrive. We know that providing students with a range of support can be very effective, which is where the Kusuma Excellence Fellowships come in.”

  • The Kusuma Excellence Fellowship programme offered a range of support, including mentoring, academic and personal development, and career counselling.
  • Between 2009 and 2018 the programme reached 887 students in Sambalpur and 400 in Hardoi.
  • Fellows performed better in their exams and were more likely to go to higher quality colleges than their peers. They were also more optimistic about their life chances.

Developing skills, confidence and aspirations

Between 2009 and 2018, we funded financial and professional support for students, through the Kusuma Excellence Fellowship programme. It targeted students in Class 10 (around 14 to 15 years old) and Class 12 (around 16 to 18 years old) when they are making critical decisions about their future.

Fellows were offered a small amount of money and a wide range of support, including mentoring, career workshops and career counselling. A group of mentors worked with fellows, helping them develop a plan of action that included academic and personal development. They were coached on life skills such as public speaking in English, time management, healthy living and self-confidence building, and were given access to computers and ICT lessons.

Visits to educational institutions and workplaces were organised during the year. They gave fellows an opportunity to learn more about higher education and meet prospective employers.

Students were selected based on their Class 10 and 12 board exam results and their family income. Fellows were supported for between five and eight years.

A two-year evaluation study from the London School of Economics showed the Fellowships had a positive impact on academic performance, the value students attach to education and student perceptions about their own ability.

Read our evaluation of the Kusuma Excellence Fellowship programme

“The support provided by Kusuma has made it possible for me to receive a good education and step onto the career ladder with a good job. Five years of encouragement, mentoring and tuition has enabled me to fulfil my dream.”
Siddhant, a Kusuma Fellow who completed a B.Tech in Electronic and Communications Engineering and now works as a software engineer

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Impact of our Kusuma Excellence Fellowships

We funded researchers at the London School of Economics to assess the impact of our Excellence Fellowships on the educational pathways of disadvantaged students.
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Secondary School Readiness Programme – Kusuma Foundation

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