Project Potential was founded on the belief that every youth and every community possesses an abundance of potential.
Providing opportunities for self-exploration and community action is crucial for building self-reliant communities.
What we do
Youth leadership and social action programs
Our leadership development includes project-based learning, learning journeys, and mentorship. The community projects run across education, health, constitutional values and governance
Attract and adopt scalable best practices
For our youth-led community projects, we attract the best organizations across the country and facilitate the scaling of their work to our geography while ensuring the solutions are contextually adopted.
Bridge community, impact partners, and government
A combination of our social capital, on-ground insights, and inclusive processes creates a platform for different stakeholders to come together and address the most pressing challenges in our region.
Our Founding Story
Finding “your people” in life is difficult. It is assumed that you will find your people with those who are “like you.” Abodh grew up in Bihar, Zubin in US; Abodh faced a number of socio-economic challenges, Zubin was born with many advantages.
But when Abodh and Zubin met in 2012 during Zubin's internship with Pratham, they quickly realized they shared interests in a common set of questions -- what would it take to awaken the dreams of rural youth from Bihar? What would it look like to build platforms for local people to solve local actions? What is the shortest path to healthy and resilient rural communities in which all can thrive?
In search of answers, we spent countless hours in community members’ homes, at chai stalls, in farmers’ fields, in schools, and in community meetings. We identified people motivated in solving local problems and figured out what we would need to do in order to help them get there. The first version of this looked like supporting a small group of rural youth to work on different types of education projects, combined with regular meetings and training. These early days confirmed our initial belief: there are talented rural youth capable of solving local problems. On the other hand, it also revealed that community members struggled with challenges beyond education, so it made sense to free the youth to solve the problems which were most salient for people.
That is how Project Potential was born: a fellowship for rural youth to solve local problems while also investing in their own longer-term leadership potential through training, exposure to learning journeys, and mentorship. The inaugural cohort had 30 fellow “Village Visionaries”, 70 Local volunteers working together on projects related to education, accessing government schemes, providing awareness on key issues, and discovering themselves and their community along the way.
From there, a strong need emerged to provide more structured exposure and support for experimentation to the youth, which gave birth to the Idea of eArthshala! With the support of two Infosys co-founders, Mr. Narayana Murthy, and Mr. K. Dinesh, we had the good fortune of purchasing a 15-acre campus.
While imagining eArthshala, we lucked upon another co-traveler -- Eureka! A trained architect, Eureka took a sabbatical to discover (pun intended) many of India’s water, agriculture, and sustainable building innovations. An early phone conversation helped build an initial relationship and piqued Eureka’s interest, but it was a visit while in transit to Siliguri that changed everything. Observing our facilitation of youth meetings and conversations, we recognized our common aims and instead of joining a prestigious fellowship that she was offered, Eureka decided to jump in with both feet toward the co-creating of eArthshala
The early days at eArthshala were hard: a building that had been used as a storehouse for agricultural inputs; no functional toilet; irregular electricity; and a gap between how we wanted to live in theory and how we actually were -- all while trying to continue to improve existing and launch new programs. Eureka over all all aspect of our campus making and soon became the foundation that helped us professionalize, improve internal structures, and make us an organization with a strong backbone to match out large vision.
This professionalization proved crucial during the COVID pandemic, enabling us to train 230+ community mobilizers across 200+ villages and play a key role in vaccinating 2.3L people through “radio natak” awareness methods, supporting verifications at Covid-centers, data entry at PHCs, coordinating with ASHA and ANM workers and organizing 100 Vaccination camps.
Our conditions are rife for another take-off: a strong founding team, contextual processes, strong community outreach and relations, and a track record of working with local government. The path forward is to keep making progress in each of these areas while recognizing and building on the unique set of opportunities we have to answer the important questions which we have been asking since 2012.