About Us

Rajeev and Arpita Agarwal established the Foundation for Excellence, a charitable trust in Mumbai in 2001, a grant making organization to support educational opportunities. In 2018, we established Kabeer Excellence Foundation, a Section 8 company to operate and scale our programs in Uttar Pradesh. In 2024, we received FCRA registration which allows us to expand our programs to additional schools.

Our mission is to help all students reach their full potential

Growing up in Shahjahanpur, Rajeev Agarwal experienced limited education opportunities at Government Intermediate College. Despite limited support, he qualified and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT), Kharagpur. Starting in 1998, Arpita and Rajeev Agarwal committed to helping student families that must rely on schools that offer free education.

Our foundations are funded by MAQ Software and entities associated with Arpita and Rajeev Agarwal.

We believe that technology can help transform human condition in low-income, large states like Uttar Pradesh. To bridge digital divide in low income student families, we provide counselling and computing support across 27 UP districts and Tehsils.

We are grateful for the support of outstanding teachers, Principals and Managers that are committed to success and wellbeing of their students.

Our charitable foundations are guided by the Directors and Trustees:

In addition, our school programs are staffed by over 300 volunteers (local youth) that are dedicated to success of their students. Disciplined leadership by our local school volunteers has helped us scale our programs to additional schools in new districts.

Background:

Uttar Pradesh (UP) is one of the poorest states where over 220 million people live in 75 districts. Literacy rates for women averages 65%. In the national education  achievement surveys, UP Students near the bottom among 29 states in India. Per capita income in UP is ~ ₹83,000 per year (living on less than ₹227 per day.)

Our target schools suffer from a chronic shortage and absenteeism of teachers, poor curriculum, extreme poverty, and poor management. Student instruction days in the schools are limited to 100 - 150 days per year (as opposed to prescribed 220 days per year) due to celebrations, mourning, weather, and law and order related disturbances. Our target schools lacked teachers (almost 30-50% positions unfilled). For over 200 days/ year, school buildings are vacant since classes are not held.

We support the lowest 20% income student families that send their students to free government aided schools in the towns. Our target students disproportionately represent religious minorities and traditionally disadvantaged communities (mostly caste based.)

To reduce the digital divide, we work with select schools attended by target families to set up low cost computer labs with 20-30 computers each. We hire local youth to staff the labs (3 per lab) to provide digital access 365 days per year, 12 -14 hours per day. To encourage reading, we provide children’s books in each lab for students.  In addition, we may provide tablet computers to provide access to Android apps (such as Read Along by Google.)

Our lab staff are recent graduates who are encouraged to use the lab to develop skills and qualify for open jobs. Our program is designed to be low cost, scalable, innovative, and replicable to other communities.

Based on our success, OBAT Helpers, Bangladesh has implemented the same program in refugee camps in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

 

We evaluate our program on the following four metrics: Scalability, innovation, financial sustainability, and easy replicability.

Innovation and Scalability

We designed our program to be scalable to thousands of schools around the world. Our innovation and scalability come from three key areas: technology, operational excellence, and people.

Technology:

 

Operational Excellence:

 

People:

 

Financial Sustainability

Conceptualized to be low operating cost with minimal technical expertise and overheads.

User Fees:

 

Donations and Sponsorships:

 

Manage staffing expenses:

 

Reduce electricity expenses:

 

 

Easy Replicability

Barriers to replicability generally include specialized technology (expensive), complex processes (hard to manage), and high costs (affordability.) We use commodity hardware, free software, and do not rely on skilled personnel in remote districts.

Any organization can deploy low-cost Raspberry PI 5 with 8GB RAM desktop computers (not low powered) designed for developing countries for education. Install standard 21.5” monitors, standard keyboard, and mouse.

“By identifying a specific need, we are able to focus our talents to act on purpose.”

Rajeev Agarwal