Started on September 25, 2006, by well-known film actor Suriya, Agaram is the culmination of a strong belief that enlightening minds and empowering them is the only way for battling and eliminating social evils and uplifting the society. Agaram through its initiatives provides access not only for quality education, but also inculcates values, commitment and dedication to the society, thus helping to build a strong future for every child.
The seed for Agaram Foundation was first sown when a few like minded people came together to give shape to their dreams of transforming the society by equipping every child with education. The goal was to provide an opportunity for good quality education for deserving children in the rural areas and to create a platform to nurture their talents and provide them with opportunities to learn, develop and transform into a well-rounded individual.
Adoption of Government Adidravida School:
Taking baby steps, Agaram adopted a school in the year 2007. The Government Adidravida Welfare School in Palur, Chengalpattu district was zeroed in, with the help of government authorities to begin Agaram's first project. The goal of the project was to analyse the gaps in imparting education to the students and providing the tools to bridge the gaps identified.
Agaram recruited trained teachers to take extra coaching sessions for students of class 6, 7 and 8 and these students were coached to improve their basics in English, Tamil and other subjects. In addition, Agaram set-up a library in school for the benefit of the students. These initiatives by Agaram resulted in a distinct level of increase in the interest among the students and their standard. It also resulted in reduction in absenteeism and increase in their grades.
Release of Awareness Film Heroa...Zeroa...:
Encouraged by the success, Agaram planned to create awareness for the need for education among a larger audience. Agaram brought together many stalwarts to create an effective campaign for the need for education to reach out to the masses. A short film for awareness of education titled "Herova... Zerova?" was produced by Agaram along with bharatstudent.com, featuring Agaram's founder Suriya along with other well known film personalities like Vijay, Madhavan and Jyothika. The script for the film was written by well-known film director Manirathnam and was directed by Priya.
This awareness film was run at many cinema halls across rural Tamilnadu and was used by the education department for their awareness creation programs.
Agaram Katral Maiyam: Agaram launched another initiative in the same year targeted towards creating equal opportunities. Agaram launched "Agaram Katral Maiyam", the learning centres, which provided both basic coaching and special skills training programs for children in rural parts of Tamilnadu. Agaram provided the infrastructure and teaching staff for these centres and students were enrolled for these extra classes from the localities. Students from classes 6 to 9 benefitted from these extra coaching classes. In addition special sessions on personality development, motivational programs and public speaking skills were conducted to boost the child's confidence level.
Agaram Website: The other significant initiative in the same year was the launch of Agaram's website. The website helped Agaram to reach out to like-minded people across the world.
Vazhikatigal Launch: "Vazhikatigal" (Tamil word meaning "Mentor") is an initiative launched by Agaram in 2009. This is an initiative to go one step further than just sponsoring their education. A volunteer led program, this initiative is focussed on nurturing school children from remote parts of Tamilnadu and provide them with opportunities and training to bring out their skills and talent and paving a way for them to reach their goals.
Vidhai Launch: Until 2010, Agaram’s initiatives were self-funded and outside assistance was consciously not sought by the trustees, in spite of well-meaning and willing donors approaching them.
But, working with the students and addressing their challenges helped Agaram to understand the ground realities in providing equal opportunities for quality education. It also helped them to evaluate the needs and realise that their efforts have to become manifold to make any real difference in the lives of these children. And the team also realised that this can be achieved only with the more fund, infrastructure and personnel support.
To address this need, Agaram launched “Vidhai” (Tamil word that meaning “Seed”), an initiative with the goal to
- Create awareness for Agaram’s initiatives
- Bring together people from different walks of life to support Agaram by providing the much needed funds, infrastructure and manpower
The launch of Vidhai helped Agaram to reach out to a larger audience and many patrons, including individuals, educational institutes and organisations, who came forward to partner with Agaram. With significant contributions from trustees and other donors, the foundation gained momentum and started with supporting 160 students from 37 districts across Tamilnadu for college education.
In the last four years the foundation has supported nearly 1000 students to realise their dream of getting a good college education and has nurtured them to become competent and confident individuals. In addition hundreds of young children have benefitted from the mentorship programs. The foundation has helped to produce number of doctors, engineers, lawyers and other professionals.
With the help of many patrons, these students have been successfully placed in many leading organisations, thus kick-starting the change that is much needed.
Agaram is hopeful that its efforts will snow-ball and many more children will benefit from its initiative in the coming years.