Impact Report No. 9: Children of Faith and Hope Academy
NAME OF MINISTRY:
Children of Faith and Hope Academy
NAME OF MINISTRY CONTACT:
Anand and Roseline Thandu
DESCRIPTION OF MINISTRY:
Anand and Roseline Thandu were born and raised in India and came to the United States for jobs and to finish their education, Anand for his Master of Business Administration and Rosie for her Bachelor of Science in Computer Science.
They settled in Walnut Creek and attended Walnut Creek Presbyterian Church. However, God called them back to India in 2007 to care for orphaned children, which they had been sending funds to support. Through Children of Faith, they now have 104 children and, after experimenting with both public schools and private schools, the Thandus concluded they need to develop their own school. They have been running their own “homeschool” onsite for several years.
Anand and Rosie’s vision is to create and operate larger, high-quality academy that lower-middle-class parents will pay to have their children attend. The cash flow from those lower-middle-class families would then subsidize the education of the Children of Faith kids as well as other poor children from the neighborhood.
The new school will eventually will serve 800 students and integrate a biblical world view.
After the Thandus presented at a Barnabas meeting in 2014, Co-Managing Director Larry Wiens took them to Valley Christian School in Dublin and Valley Christian in San Jose. The Valley Christian Schools' staff and administration freely shared their experiences.
The San Jose school was a struggling Christian K-12 school 30 years ago and now has a model program and extraordinary facilities. “It looks like a big university,” Anand said. “Even engineering classes in India couldn't match what is going on here—the students get much more hands-on experience.” He also noted that the classes had about 22 kids, who moved freely around and had lots of interaction with the teacher.
Their trip also included a fundraiser at Walnut Creek Presbyterian, their home church when they lived here. It raised $31,000 to furnish the boys dorm.
At a recent Barnabas quarterly meeting, Partner Mark Perra introduced Rosie and shared that they will celebrate the groundbreaking of Hope Academy in the summer. They have been working on developing the school, including the writing of a business plan, since 2012 with Mark and Joanne Perra. In the meantime, they have continued to operate an on-site school for their children from Children of Faith.
Hope Academy’s mission is to provide every student—irrespective of caste or socioeconomic class—with a life-changing education that builds a foundation for them to achieve their highest potential and discover the joy and fruits of their individual callings.
Access to satisfactory education is virtually non-existent for children in India who live well below the poverty line. Indeed, despite completing four years of primary school, ninety percent of children from poor households remain illiterate. The vast majority of ultra-poor children drop out of primary school to join the child labor market without achieving even rudimentary competencies in literacy and math. In parts of southeast India, more than half the child population is engaged in labor. For every 100 girls in rural India, only 1 completes grade 12. Extreme injustice and the generational cycle of poverty rage on, deeply entrenched and seemingly intractable.
Since its founding in 2012, Hope Academy has pushed back against this unjust equilibrium by providing high-quality educational opportunities to orphans and street children from southeast India. As a result, we are reducing child labor, increasing gender equity and breaking the poverty cycle—one child at a time.
Hope Academy is a K-10 school located in the western semi-rural outskirts of the city of Visakhapatnam. The school’s English-medium, technology-facilitated, STEM-rich approach prepares its students to be proficient in math and science, and skilled in reading, writing, listening and critical thinking. The prevailing methodology in India’s schools is based on rote memorization and listening to lectures. Hope Academy has found that learning is far more effective and less onerous to the students by incorporating new methods that encourage student engagement and student-centered experiential learning.
Hope Academy is accelerating innovation in Indian education. For six years, Hope Academy has relentlessly pursued its objective of delivering world-class education to some of India’s poorest and most dispossessed children.
One hundred percent of the school’s 100 students are on track to graduate. Seventy five percent of grade 3-10 students have reached grade-specific competency in literacy and math. Our goal is to reach 90 percent by 2020. Results of Board Exams have been exceptional. Hope Academy graduates are usually at or near the top of their classes in vocational schools, junior colleges and universities. These educational outcomes markedly surpass those for India’s schoolchildren as a whole—and are incomparably superior to those for India’s below-poverty-line students.
Strong English language skills and confident, high-performing graduates have given Hope Academy an excellent reputation in its local community and beyond. Parents from local villages have been asking to send their children to this orphanage school. A nearby University offered scholarships to Hope Academy’s graduates.
Now—by expanding Hope Academy and responding to the vast market demand (from lower-middle-class families) for radically improved schools—Hope Academy will model a way toward sustainable, large-scale social impact and educational reform.
Hope Academy’s expansion is on track to serve 600 students from tuition-paying lower-middle-class families of all faith backgrounds from surrounding communities—while reserving 200 free seats for ultra-poor children. Within four years, Hope Academy’s total student population will increase to an operationally sustainable level of 800 students.