To keep making new stories all over our world.
To engage more educators and students around our planet.
To build the curriculum that we dream of for our children.
To keep the passion growing in a time where this work matters more than ever.
Join The Core Community.
(Written In Late 2019)
Hi! It’s me, abhi 🙂
I’m writing this letter for those who are close to me and to the Better World Ed movement. A different kind of annual report — one where I get very real and raw about our past years and the journey ahead in 2020 and beyond.
If you are close to me and to this movement, I would love nothing more than for you to read this letter with an open heart and an open mind in this incredibly important time.
This hasn’t been easy to write.
You can definitely send this note around to those you trust and those who deeply care about a more peaceful and beautiful world, though this letter is intended for your eyes and heart.
I’m intentionally not sending this invite to a whole lot of people, as the below note gets pretty personal. This may very well be the biggest ask for help I have ever made. Whether you or someone you know well gets in on this, let’s make this happen together?
Here it goes:
This has been a wildly challenging journey. We have experienced what some advisors have called “most of the challenges a startup can face in just a matter of years!” As so many of you have shared with me along the way, the challenges have been necessary.
We have learned huge lessons early on that will ultimately help this vision become reality in a more beautiful way. We’re more ready for effectively growing this movement in ways we might not have been had all of this been “easy”.
We’ve learned to do a whole lot with super tight funding, and to innovate within crazy constraints from a curriculum design standpoint, too. Building a curriculum that opens hearts and minds in a globally inclusive and globally adaptive way isn’t exactly the easiest thing to pull off. Doing so with deep “work-life alignment” is even harder, especially on a “where do we find money this month?” budget.
That’s why it’s so so amazing to see that our Learning Journeys are consistently being received beautifully by students and educators. We’ve now created over 50 Learning Journey story kits in more than a dozen countries on quite the shoestring budget, with many more stories in the works.
Even just thinking purely from a content creation standpoint, that’s a whole lot of magical short films and written stories that have been produced with not a whole lot of money. And on top of that, we have incredible guidance from classrooms on how we can improve the resources as we create more Learning Journeys in new countries and as we work with more schools globally.
I’ve never felt better about our mission and how much potential we very clearly have to open millions of hearts and minds in an unprecedented way. I’ve never felt more committed, either.
Now more than ever we need understanding, compassion, and deep gut-level empathy in our world today. Open hearts. Open minds.
So as we step into this next decade, it’s time for us to come together and get beyond the month to month bank account situation we’ve been in for quite some time.
Searching for funding to meet our most basic needs — including but not limited to buying eggs, consistently having safe housing, and paying website upkeep costs — every few weeks stifles creativity, effectiveness, and disrupts my flow and ability to focus on the things that will lead us to sustainability. That is a big deal. Though even more importantly, it affects my mental and emotional health even when I think it doesn’t.
That’s a big reason we switched from all free content to our new pricing approach (you can read more on this approach and our fun-and-challenge-filled backstory here!). It puts us on a path to becoming a truly sustainable not-for-profit organization.
Though as so many people close to me have reminded me, it’s going to take time to reach a point where we are sustaining and growing from schools and districts contributing (especially given school cycles are loooong). Bringing in big grants has been quite the adventure, too. (If you know folks who you think would love to support with a larger grant, here is a two pager you could absolutely advocate with.)
I don’t want these current realities to keep stressing and distracting me as deeply as they do, and I definitely don’t want to lose an ounce of the energy and passion I have for this work. Ever.
A close friend said to me recently: “Your most important job — above literally everything else — is to stay motivated, passionate, persistent, peaceful, and everything that makes you YOU. You’ve been dreaming of this since childhood, you’re on this mission for life, you’re pouring your whole soul into this movement, and the world needs you to be YOU forever if we’re going to make this vision reality.”
That message is what gave me the courage to write this note to you. I am asking you to help me personally go from Cloud 9 to Cloud 10, without having to pause or go in reverse. Without losing an ounce of steam, and only becoming more passionate while we work towards sustainability.
Because my friend’s reminder above is wholly true. I am on this mission for life, no matter how challenging it is.
Think of this as a small, beautiful community of passionate humans eager to see Better World Ed survive and thrive. The people in a sneaky dimly lit basement drinking chai and scheming on how to grow this movement, chipping in funds together to keep things moving and grooving. We can even make up a secret handshake.
My dream is that everyone close to this mission, and to me, will contribute or gather $21-$121 per month (the extra 1 is good luck in Indian culture, and extra luck would be great), so that we can achieve a healthy base of recurring donations as a mental and emotional health safety net.
Instead of presenting a specific number for everyone joining, my ask is that you A) figure out if you can manage this and if not, then B) think of what feels “safe” and then do a bit more than that.
“A bit more” = a number that keeps you acutely aware that you’re investing in this mission and in me. Whatever number feels significant enough that you don’t let this slip into auto-pilot giving, and also feel wholly good knowing your contribution is keeping me inspired and healthy.
If you can do more than $121 (and remember, this is tax deductible), awesome. If $21 is possible and you can get a few friends on board to reach a higher target as a crew, super amazing. If you can do any number at all, it will mean the world.
An important note: this is not a “forever” ask. We will achieve sustainability through our school partnerships and larger funding opportunities as we grow.
In the grand scheme, we need a budget in the millions to make this mission happen. I haven’t lost sight of any of that. This is the “be the reason we get to that sustainability” fund that enables me to focus on the things that will make that bigger vision a reality, without constantly scrambling for money and putting a pause on big picture work.
We live in a world of subscriptions. I’d love for you to think of joining this Core Community as your Better World Subscription. The subscription that will help make sure the little humans of our world have the most incredible global curriculum ever made — sooner rather than later.
The social justice, environmental health, community building subscription. A core community of people committed to deep, transformative change in our world.
To be super clear, here’s what Better World Ed is going to do with this money (and your contribution is tax-deductible):
Pay for our absolute basic necessities as an org and stay out of financial (and mental) challenges. We’re a tiny organization on an even tinier budget. I haven’t taken a salary in months now, and when I used to it was never more than a couple grand per month. I can no longer constantly be thinking about how our most basic costs are going to be met every few weeks.
By creating a base of $6000-$10,000 USD coming in every month from our core amazing believers, we can assure that all of our bills will be paid, our website and all tech-related things will be maintained and secure, I can take a minimal stipend out again to eat healthy and pay for health insurance, and we can keep creating stories and supporting new and current schools without any hiccups in our mental, emotional, and financial health.
I could make this group sound innovative and progressive and forward-thinking, but I prefer to be real and raw with you all. This base of recurring funds isn’t for some new “innovation” or something. It’s to quite literally sustain Better World Ed as an organization, and to sustain me and my mental and emotional health so that I can continue to focus on thriving and being a passionate, compassionate, peaceful, persistent human working my best (with healthy rest and meditation) to make this mission happen.
You joining this core community will mean everything — the whole world — to me personally as:
A) You will help me sleep better at night, not wake up worried about money, and prevent me from spending tons of time each month focused on “saving our ship”. (I can barely swim, so the idea of SOS is extra scary for me.)
B) You will keep me entirely focused on the big picture things I need to be doing without pouring all my time and mental and emotional energy into figuring out how to stay above water financially every other week.
Big picture things include and aren’t limited to: growing our reach and awareness efforts (like this recent blog with Teaching Channel), securing new school partnerships and sponsors for schools, engaging in influencer partnerships/interviews, building out our blog and PD work, pursuing important opportunities (like the cool Nat Geo experience we just got to be part of in October, or our fun podcast from the spring), improving our curriculum and story diversity and depth, improving our video content and design, investing time with educators and students learning alongside them, mobilizing our educators who want to advocate for BeWE to their districts and other schools, connecting with all the many folks signing up for free trials, connecting with school admin who are eager to bring us on next year, and writing regular updates to you and our growing community of educators.
C) You will give me the energy and inspiration and courage to persist even more passionately and peacefully than I ever have. The courage to step into any situation, meeting, or day knowing I’m not even close to alone — knowing there is a small but mighty community that believes in me and in this mission we are on together. That this work I have and will pour my life into matters.
I care a lot about where our funding comes from, and knowing I am (and Better World Ed is) sustaining and thriving because of you would be the most energizing thing while we work towards sustainability through school partnerships and our new approach. I really don’t know how to convey this in writing or in words, but this is WAY bigger than how much money you give each month. This is about community.
This is a core community to remind us all that there are others. Others who deeply want a better world, too. Others who want to ensure young people grow up with the kind of learning we all wish we had. The kind of learning that, if happening at significant scale in every corner of our planet, could change basically everything for the better. Maybe just in time.
And hey. If you don’t feel you can afford to contribute, I hear you so loud and clear. Here’s an idea to explore together if that’s the boat you feel you’re in:
Maybe this is an opportunity to have a conversation about our education system and the world that you believe is possible with someone(s) in your life.
A close friend, that aunt or uncle you know wants to make a bigger impact, a local school, a business partner, your spouse, a cool colleague or your boss, your parents? A foundation that loves you? A philanthropist you met recently? Your neighbor?
Someone that could and would donate, sponsor schools, sponsor essential gear, or sponsor new stories (in any country!) in honor of you and because they deeply care about building a better world together.
With a big hug, immense gratitude, a few tears in writing this, and a lifelong commitment to this mission we’re on,
PS — We are a US registered 501(c)(3) not-for-profit org (EIN #46-1877873). Tax deductible contributions are great! If you’d like to donate through an employer matching program or if your company would love to donate too, yay! Email me / text / call and let’s make it happen! And if you simply want to chat about any and all of this, let’s!
PPS — If you contribute through the quick and secure system below, you’ll get automatic tax receipts every time. It’s super cool. Also, you’ll receive special updates from me on a more consistent basis. You’ll be part of a core community of people who care about building a more just, inclusive, beautiful world.
PPPS — If life isn’t about peace, connection, community, and building a better world together, then what is it about? Let’s do this, humanity.