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Barefoot College

Empowering poor rural communities to become self-sufficient and sustainable

Based in Rajasthan, India, Barefoot College has been helping poor rural communities become self-sufficient and sustainable for more than 40 years. At the outset Barefoot's founders adopted the ideas of Mahatma Gandhi into their work ethic. The organization continues to walk that walk today by applying the knowledge, skills and wisdom found in villages to local development; putting technology under the control of poor communities; expanding traditional definitions of education and educators; and championing women's equality.

Our Commitment: Equality of Chances

When we first learned about Barefoot College in 2011, we felt a philosophical alignment with the organization. As we learned more, we knew there was a possibility for a strong partnership and strategic engagement. We worked with Barefoot’s senior advisor and founder to create a grant proposal to equip villages across Zimbabwe with solar electricity. Since that first proposal, we have supported Barefoot College on a number of other strategy, design, and communications projects.

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Grant Potential

For a vital organization to effectively scale, communication, design and organizational capacity are critical, and often difficult to fund, tools. We saw the potential for Barefoot to reach an increasing larger audience and help villages in new regions benefit from its exemplary programs, by investments in documentary filmmaking, digital platform and donor outreach. We initiated a contract with our design and strategy partner Amplifier Strategies alongside Rebellion Labs to build a communications and media strategy for the documentary release.

Opportunity

  • Build the strategy, capacity, and team to grow and sustain the Barefoot Approach internationally
  • Generate key strategic partnerships and donor relationships

Impact

  • Rural communities are empowered through sustainable technology for solar electrification
  • Barefoot solutions have large-scale influence on the global development agenda

Grants awarded

2012-2013:

  • In-kind support for development and operational capacity

2013-2014:

  • Commitment for development-related travel and a solar electrification project in a new region

2014-2015:

  • Enhanced communication and messaging for international expansion, a new digital platform with a larger, comprehensive scope

2015-2016:

  • Commitment to build international development generate major philanthropic gifts, long-term donor relationships, and key strategic partnerships that will enable Barefoot College to scale its approach globally.