On realising that there were many young social change agents with innovative and path breaking ideas, the Sadguru Gnanananda National Fellowship Awards for social entrepreneurs was initiated. Young budding social change agents working in rural areas or with marginalised groups are identified and are offered a monthly stipend of Rs.10,000 for three years to help and motivate them during their start-up phase. Rythm Foundation, Malaysia has been supporting the Fellowship program for the last few years by sponsoring the stipend and the training given to the fellows.
Nominations are invited from fellow organisations and also open applications are invited. The selection process includes an application assessment, a telephonic interview, and a field visit made by the MSDS team. Candidates are selected and evaluated on the following basis:
Ms. R.Jeeva, Founder of Transgenders Rights Association Chennai envisions to create an enabling environment to ensure equal opportunities, equity, social justice & empowerment of transgender persons in Tamilnadu
Mr. Manish Rai, Co-Founder Dobara in Hyderabad, envisions ageing years as a celebration of one's longevity, experiences and wisdom. His mission is to Re- Define and Re-Imagine the Experiences of Ageing and to increase the chances of healthy ageing and productive engagement of elderly and to make them self-reliant Dobara means once again - Renew. Reinvent. Reconnect
Ms. Sheeba Sen, Founder of Aalap Peoples Foundation, works with the Himalayan communities in the Kumaon region of Uttarakhand , to create Native forests which are dense multi-layered forests of native species, and to build eco-leadership skills among the village elected leaders. She envisions a world where every human being is a devoted custodian of native forests.
Mr. Karthikeyan, has set up Sristi village where 20 differently abled live together in harmony, as equal residents with 10 volunteers and 10 support staff. He believes that a dignified life is everyone's right and differences in ability cannot undermine one's right to a dignified life.
Ms Ridhi Aggarwal, founded Swatantra Talim Foundation to develop a model after school program for rural children. She runs two learning centres in Ramduari village and Lucknow, reaching out to 180 children. Their model comprised of three stages – Khojdabba- a lab in a box, Khojaalaya –a library, and Khojshaala- a community lab.
Ms. Medha Shah, established Weaver Bird, a social enterprise to promote the use of organic, hand spun and hand-woven cotton as a conscious fashion choice. Her famers' groups in Rajkot cultivate cotton organically, which is then purchased by Weaver Bird and then processed by a rural artisans' groups using natural dyes and herbal wash with shikakai and reetha to soften the fabric.
Mr. Hejang Misao Inside North East, Manipur works with young people in rural areas of Manipur to shun violence & conflict and nurture leadership qualities so that they become socially responsible with democratic values and ensure just and equitable society through grass root education, sports and experiential learning.
Mr. Pandi Ramesh Babu, Social Work Organisation, Andhra Pradesh works for the empowerment of the Primitive Tribal Groups in the West Godavari district of AP (who are displaced due to the construction of a dam in the area), by providing them alternate and sustainable livelihoods in Honey, Bamboo, Tamarind and other NTFP items.
Mr. Tiruppathi Perumal, Abhinavgram Society, Kolli Hills in Tamilnadu works for Creating self-sufficient model tribal villages around Kolli Hills, by promoting Tribal owned local livelihoods, creating better infrastructure facilities, providing better health facilities and creating youth parliaments in each village
Mr. Arun Fernandez, Blink Foundation, Chennai, runs an online and offline intervention aimed at providing an answer to a wide range of issues faced by people especially students – both rural and urban - to promote tolerance, harmony and unity and minimise social differences.
Mr. Ashish Arora & Ms. Divya Gupta, Sahaj Foundation, Kunihar village, Solan dt, Himachal Pradesh, facilitates individuals in rural communities of Himachal Pradesh, to live in harmony with their hearts and to lead a peaceful & meaningful life by creating a space that will help people come over their mental poverty.
Mr. Sandeep Mehto, Bharath Calling, Pathrota Village, Hoshangabad dt, Madhya Pradesh, runs a youth counselling initiative in Madhya Pradesh that identifies the interests of rural and tribal students, provides career counselling and connects them to colleges and universities to facilitate their admission.
Mr. Akshai Abraham, Project KHEL, Lucknow uses sports as a platform to impart Life Skills Education to children from disadvantaged backgrounds in Lucknow and the nearby villages.
Ms. Shoba Gosa, Founder, Young People for Life India, Hyderabad, offers counselling services and skill building for the underprivileged youth and school children in and around Hyderabad.
Mr. Dilip Patro, Founder, The Ability People, Visakhapatnam, is an accident victim, working for the rehabilitation and empowerment of Spinal Cord injured persons and the disabled community.
Mr. K. Raja Manickam, Action for Rural Upliftment and Leadership (ARUL) Foundation Soorankottai, Ramanathapuram, works for the welfare of the manual scavengers and their children by inspiring them to live a life of dignity.
Ms. Sornalatha, Adivasi Social Service Educational Trust, Sembakkam, Kancheepuram, hailing from the Irula tribes (snake catchers) in Tamilnadu, works on education of the tribal children and encouraging women to start alternate livelihoods.
Mr. S.Chezian, Mercy Charitable Trust, Kadaladi village, Tiruvanamalai district, offers vocational training to the women and disabled of the district and enables them to start small businesses
Ms. Akhila Ramesh, Nivasa , Bangalore, an architect who has designed a cheap and affordable prototype for rural housing in rural Kartnataka and has implemented them in a few villages.
Ms. Khusboo Kantharia, Disha, Mumbai, offering counselling services for the youth who are mainstreamed from orphanages and other shelter homes.
Mr. Kamalakannan, Vizhuthugal, Punjampuliyampatti district near Coimbatore, has launched learning centres for children in 14 villages which focus on value education, sports, creative arts and General Knowledge.