Udayan Shalini Fellowship

Udayan Shalini Fellowship (USF)

The Udayan Shalini Fellowships (USF) is a 5 to 6-year program for young women entering the 11th grade focused on creating employable, confident, educated, and independent young women. Udayan Shalini Fellows are young women who are intelligent and motivated but who have limited opportunities because their families make less than $3000 per year.

In India, primary education is free through the public school system until the 10th grade, however tuition is charged from the 11th to the 12th grades. In the lowest economic strata of India, many find this cost unaffordable or unnecessary, especially for girls. Therefore, USF provides financial and mentoring support from the 11th grade through college or vocational training, during which time these young women go through an intensive 5 to 6-year training program.

It only takes $1,300 to support a Shalini over a 5-year period or $260/year to puruse Liberal Arts/Business degrees; and only $2100 to support a Shalini over a 6-year period or $350/year to pursue Science/Computer Science/Engineering degrees.

USF is now present in 21 chapters – Aurangabad, Baddi, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi (North, South), Dehradun, Greater Noida, Gurugram, Haridwar, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kolkata, Kurukshetra, Mumbai, Panchkula, Phagwara, Pune, Thane and Vadodara. This year, a new chapter in Noida, Uttar Pradesh was started. In 2019-20, more than 1200 girls were inducted across different chapters.

What are the Unique Aspects of the USF Program?

  • A True Fellowship. USF is a fellowship, not merely a scholarship, and goes much beyond monetary assistance successful, adult volunteers and USF alumnae serve as senior mentors to the Fellows to help them foster their ambitions and overcome their struggles.
  • Giving Back. All Fellows are required to give 50 hours per year to social causes, instilling in them the desire to give back. It’s no wonder that many of our alumnae are contributing to the development of younger Fellows as mentors or even as donors!
  • Creating Dignified Women. USF educates its Fellows through regular workshops and camps that cover topics ranging from personal hygiene and resume writing to public speaking and negotiation skills. This is all to develop them into Shalinis – dignified women who will not be denied the right to fulfill their dream.

How are Shalinis Selected?

Girls entering the 11th grade in government schools across the 15 USF chapters are selected through NAT – a meticulous written exam that evaluates the Needs, Ambition and Talent of each girl. Girls achieving the benchmark score are interviewed and then further shortlisted for home visits in order to assess the need for support. Once selected, they are bound by a pledge to uphold the values of the Udayan Shalini Fellowship, with a promise to give back to those like them.

Girls, who are selected, are called Shalinis (Dignified Women) or Fellows and are supported for 5-6 years till they graduate or complete specialized courses of their choice. Going beyond simple monetary assistance, USF also incorporates mentoring and regular career guidance, motivational, life skills and employability workshops to create a force of sensitive, trained and enlightened citizens. Furthermore, to become socially aware and responsible, Shalinis fulfil 50 hours of mandatory social work.