Providing life skills, career readiness and livelihoods to disadvantaged youths in India

Dream a Dream

At a glance

Over 140 million children and young people in India growing up in under-served communities come from experiences of adversity. Adversity affects their ability to engage with the world, make healthy life choices and be successful.1

Young people who can adapt to the new, fast changing world through the ability to think creatively, manage conflict, respond with empathy, work in teams and take initiative will be successful in this new world. Dream a Dream’s aim is to empower young people from vulnerable backgrounds to overcome adversity and to flourish using a creative life skills approach.

The partners

Founded in 1999, Dream a Dream is a registered, charitable trust empowering young people from vulnerable backgrounds to overcome adversity. The organization has developed deep insight and understanding of the challenges facing disadvantaged youth in India.


The problem

UNICEF reports that 42 percent of India’s population was surviving on less than USD1.25 per day, and around 160 million of the 460 million young people in India under 18 years old were living below this international poverty line. It is estimated that 42 percent of children aged under five years in India are underweight and that the growth of up to 59 percent is stunted. 2

The solution

The proposed intervention has three main components:

  • After School Life Skills Program: uses the mediums of sports and arts to develop life skills in participants. Dream a Dream partners with 25 schools in Bangalore and works with over 5,000 students from grades 4-10.
  • The Career Connect Program: is a learning and technology space for young people 15-23 who receive training in technology, spoken English, money management and workplace readiness as well as support in developing resilience and confidence. This program prepares participants for the modern job market.
  • Research: in addition to directly running its program, Dream a Dream will focus conducting and publishing high quality research for other non-profit organizations, parents, educators, policy makers, media, etc.

The evidence

Research unequivocally shows that students who develop social-emotional skills and academic mindsets are better equipped to succeed in school, and are able to transfer theoretical concepts to real-life situations early on. Research has also consistently found that cognitive abilities explain only a fraction of variance in wages, finding that other, non-academic skills play a complimentary role in shaping longer term outcomes. A recent evaluation of Life Skills interventions found a positive return on investments for all with a return of eleven dollars on average, for every dollar invested equally across six social and emotional learning interventions.3

The Impact

The program will reach: 

  • 10,000 young people via the After School Life Skills Program 
  • 10,000 young people via the Career Connect Program

Dream a Dream will target the following outcomes: 

  • Average attendance: 85 percent 
  • Average retention: 90-95 percent
  • Participants showing positive change in Life Skills: 90 percent 
  • Complete and publish three research studies on the impact of its programs

Dream a Dream works towards SDGs: