Saachi is a junior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Biology and Religious Studies. As the president of her medical fraternity, Phi Delta Epsilon, she is also a pre-med student. To top it off, she’s a member of the club golf team as well as a fusion dance team on campus. What takes up a majority of her time, however, is her non-profit, Manāna.
Saachi founded her non-profit in 2014 when she was just 15 years old. She felt inspired to give back following a visit to the Global Village Project, a middle school for refugee girls.
“I was 14 at the time and it was so eye-opening to see these girls who are my age being pushed out of their country to come to a new country where they barely even knew the language, much less a culture. It was so shocking to me and my innocent self at the time, and I felt compelled to do something,” said Saachi.
From there, Saachi threw herself into volunteering any chance she could. Through these experiences, Saachi found that she loved working with children and ultimately wanted to create happy memories and occasions for underprivileged children.
“I love birthday parties. They were such a big part of my own childhood. Unfortunately, other children don’t always get to experience that, especially if they’re going through hard times. So, I figured I could work to create those same moments in other children’s lives, which were very meaningful in my own.”
Thus, Manāna was born. It is now a 501(c)3 organization dedicated to creating happy memories and joyful occasions for underprivileged, refugee, and sick children by hosting birthday parties, giving gifts, and having other festivities. Its goal is to help all children truly enjoy one facet of their childhood through celebrations that bring smiles to their faces despite the circumstances beyond their control.
It began as a club where Saachi and her friends initially threw birthday parties with only the Agape Youth & Family Center. While the process was not necessarily set in stone, Saachi saw that her mission could be sustainable if it had the proper infrastructure.
Hence, when a faculty member at Saachi’s high school put a call out to the student body with a description of GivingPoint Institute, now known as Social Innovators Academy, she thought it was the perfect opportunity to grow her passion.
She applied at the end of her sophomore year and completed the ten-month entrepreneurship program with what she felt was a much more scalable product.
“GivingPoint gave me the tools to not only organize my non-profit but to talk about my non-profit in a way that legitimized it and presented it in a way that it is marketable and profitable to other people. I had a mission in my head, but they really helped me to communicate that mission with other people, which allowed me to collect donations and ultimately grow the mission.”
That mission has only continued to develop over the last five years and GivingPoint has been there every step of the way.
“This past spring, we filed the paperwork to become a 501(c)3. Throughout the whole process, GivingPoint just continues to help by giving guidance and putting me in touch with an attorney who actually filed my paperwork pro bono.”
When asked about the overall impact of Social Innovators Academy on her life, Saachi said, “It’s such an invaluable experience whether you have an idea or not. It’ll give you the tools and knowledge to implement anything. They really taught me the important questions to ask. It’s a one-stop-shop. They will support you throughout the whole process to help you impact as many people as possible.”
If you, or someone you know, would like to put your passion to action and find out more about our upcoming Spring 2020 Social Innovators Academy, we would love to hear from you.
Please email one of our Program Associate Managers,
• Paige Whalen – firstname.lastname@example.org
• DeAndre Pickett – email@example.com