Vinod Muralidhar batch 2000 cse, the founder of Culvee Trust
The trust was officially set in January. Culvee has a team of 10, including Vinod, his friends from Kumaraguru College and a few techies from the U.S. “It is easy for me to send $50 to help these students. But, that does not give you half the happiness of meeting them directly and helping them out,” he says.
Every year, we read about the son of an auto-driver or a migrant labourer, who has topped his class. “But, what about the one, who scored a few marks less? No media notices him. This is where Culvee wants to make a difference. Our aim is to make a database of all these students, who are academically bright, not necessarily just the toppers,” says the Stanford graduate. The children are selected through interviews, assessment of their marks, aspirations and family backgrounds.
The system works through crowd-funding, which Vinod says is basically a modification of the traditional Tamil concept, ‘Siruthulli Peruvellam’. “And, Coimbatore has always had an innate spirit of charity. I have grown up watching my parents help educate the son of our domestic help.” Culvee has quite a few donors on board right now, out of which most are non-resident Indians. “Each has different criteria. Some select children brought up by single parents. Some help students who want to pursue unconventional courses such as arts or agriculture. But, most of them prefer girls over boys because they think the parents will deny the girls education more easily.”
Vinod was overwhelmed seeing the positive spirit of these kids and their families. “There was one boy who came first in school but, on the day of the results, his mother died. Now, he lives with his aunt, who wants him to get educated, even though her own son is not in college. These people inspire you.”
Culvee also works with organisations such as Make A Difference and Teach for India. “Many of these non-profit organisations use most of their time and energy to raise funds. So, if we can relieve them off that burden, then they can fully focus on their mentorship programmes,” says Vinod. He wants to ensure that the children feel proud when they earn the Culvee scholarship.
They observe a day called the Culvee Scholar Day, very similar to a college ceremony, but with lots of fun and laugher. “Our idea is to treat them with respect. The first event for this year was held at a hotel, where we organised team-building activities and interactive games. It was almost like a college culturals. The children enjoyed it.”
Their aim is to turn the Culvee children into responsible and hard-working individuals. They will also involve the children in the recruitment process by going to schools, collecting applications and filling forms. “These children are being tested early in their lives, unlike the others, who are groomed in a comfortable ambience. The latter are the first to crumble under a bad boss or other adverse life situations. But, these children will stick it out.”
The selected students will be asked to constantly update the team of their activities through selfies and pictures of mark sheets. “The scholarship for next year will be dependent on this. We do not just base the assessments on their academic activities.”
They took the help of teachers in different government schools to identify the children in the class and held interviews. “It is a very preliminary attempt. Our long term goal is to go all over the country. It is a huge and complicated system. We want to systemise it.” Culvee raised enough money to help 30 students get college admissions this year. “One important factor for upward mobility is education. If you are born poor, you don’t have to necessarily die poor. College education changes everything