An Indian American high school junior in the West Windsor-Plainsboro School District in New Jersey has launched an initiative that promises to help connect the world's most passionate young students with the world's most deserving non-profits.
In 2020, Aashi Chandna couldn’t help but notice the negativity that surrounded us and the detachment we had from society. She began to see students turn away from reading the news and noticed an overall lack of involvement.
“Initially, I was looking for a way to address this and thought that it might be beneficial to have a way to get news summaries that cater to the user’s availability,” Chandna told India-West. “However, there are several established news sources that people rely on and I didn’t think that people would start moving away from established sources and start getting news from somewhere else,” she said.
Seeing the impact of the Black Lives Matter movement, but being unable to do much to help, led to a realization of the difficulty that students generally face when it comes to getting involved with nonprofits and supporting causes that they are passionate about, Chandna noted.
The other way that she saw students react to the movement was with a little more of a negative mindset.
“I remember someone expressing irritation with the Black Lives Matter movement being all they see and hear about on social media. I found this to be an insensitive reaction, however, when I tried to look at it from a different perspective, I started to see why this frustration could be present,” she explained to India-West.
“Although it does not make the comment any less insensitive, I understand that during that time, Covid-19 was also at its peak. Due to this, there was negativity present everywhere you went. At that time, a lot of people felt helpless because we would see and hear about the state of the world, but remain unable to do anything about it.”
This made Chandna think about how there are so many amazing causes that people may personally connect to, but struggle to find ways to contribute to. Being in high school, she said she always hears people talking about how they volunteer at one place or interning at another.
“I have always been very interested in helping out and getting involved but it has been a struggle because I don’t know where these people find the opportunities,” she said.
“I really struggled with these things and wanted to create something to make sure that others don’t have to go through the same thing.”
The high schooler has spent approximately the last 10 months working on a platform called Project Involve, which aims to make reading the news more action-oriented and connect the world's most passionate young students with nonprofits that work to support remarkable causes.
“Today's youth is more vocal and politically driven than ever before but struggle to find the right avenue to direct their passion,” Chandna noted.
Project Involve is a cross-platform application that allows you to read the news and connect with relevant non-profits in the most convenient manner.
The platform allows a user to read the daily news based on the amount of time they have, whether that is 5 minutes, 10 minutes, 15 minutes or more, a news release said.
This really allows the users to be able to read news in a way that caters to their personal schedule.
“Today’s youth wants to be able to directly help tackle the problems they read about in the news. With the goal of making the experience of reading the news less passive and more action-oriented, Involve connects each article that the student reads to partnered NGOs that provide opportunities for involvement in the same category. All of this can be accessed by simply clicking on the ‘Help Now’ button under an article summary,” Chandna said.
The news is updated each day, and there will always be news available in the categories of Health, Climate, Politics, Science, Education, and Arts. The news is sourced from BBC and NPR’s public APIs, the release said.
If a user wants to explore partner organizations and access their opportunities but does not want to read the news, they may do so by going to the “How Can I Help” button on the home page which is located directly under the news button. This gives access to all partner NGOs in one place, it said.
The platform engages thousands of teens and adults in current events and also allows them to search for volunteer opportunities or internships and at the same time it will assist nonprofits by creating a ready pool of students willing to volunteer or take up internships at their organizations, Chandna told India-West.
Project Involve currently has 25 partner organizations and over 4,500 individual users since its launch in June of 2021.
The platform aims to reach a high volume of students and others who will be motivated to look for volunteer opportunities, internships, and ways to contribute to a variety of causes for the purpose of becoming more involved, and channelizing their emotions in a constructive manner.
By the end of 2021, Chandna hopes to have 10,000 individual users of Project Involve.
“In terms of long-term goals, I want to expand the platform’s impact to students all over the world. I will be working to connect with organizations in different countries and also aim to form a team in order to work in the most efficient way possible,” Chandna, who says she hopes to pursue a career aimed toward law and business.
More information about Project Involve by visiting www.aashichandna.com/involve.