Yes! India can see the Change via YES FOUNDATION: Prerana Langa

In less than three years, the Foundation’s flagship program, YES! i am the CHANGE has emerged as the leading Social Film Movement. This year, we received participation of over 13 lakh youth across 2,500 cities. I mentor young social leaders, social entrepreneurs/ NGOs.

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NEW DELHI: Prerana Langa, CEO of YES FOUNDATION with around 2 decades of experience in CSR and community partnerships and an advisor to social enterprises. She is passionate about social issues and volunteers with a non-profit. Prerana has been awarded the Swedish Government’s SIMP program grant 2013 (one of the top 20 selected from India) to study in Stockholm, the international business potential of Corporate Responsibility.

Prerana holds a Masters degree in Management. She successfully completed the World Bank and the Harvard University South Asia Institute Executive Development Program in Corporate Social Responsibility.

In conversation with Rusen Kumar, Editor, India CSR; Prerana Langa talks about how she created and developed YES! i am the CHANGE, a mindset transformation project, innovatively using the medium of films to ignite the spirit of driving positive social change amongst the youth, enabling them to become agents of social change and creating invaluable communication resources for use of Not-for-Profits. Excerpts from the interview:

How is Yes Bank associated with YES FOUNDATION?

YES FOUNDATION is the social development arm of YES BANK. It is a step to strengthen and channelise Bank’s commitment to inclusive development. Under the visionary guidance of our Chief Mentor Mr. Rana Kapoor, we follow a differentiated approach, focusing on stimulating entrepreneurship and innovative use of media initiatives, to bridge gaps and act as a force multiplier towards an empowered and equitable India.

Briefly describe your role and responsibilities, and how many years you have been in the CSR domain.

In my career of over 19 years – majority of which has been in the CSR domain, I have pioneered numerous development programs in the areas of education, health, financial inclusion, environment, youth leadership and capacity building of civil society. I was a part of a two-member core team to establish the corporate foundation of a leading private sector bank. In December 2012, I had the privilege to set up Yes Foundation.

In less than three years, the Foundation’s flagship program, YES! i am the CHANGE has emerged as the leading Social Film Movement. This year, we received participation of over 13 lakh youth across 2,500 cities. I mentor young social leaders, social entrepreneurs/ NGOs.

What is the model of Foundation and how is it acting as a catalyst plugging gaps in the development sector with its various programs?

Our Foundation act as a catalyst to plug 3 major gaps in the development sector – lack of communication resources, lack of good human resources and access to funding.

YES! i am the CHANGE (YIAC) sensitizes youth on various social issues and builds association with NGOs, creating future employees and volunteers for the social sector.

We have over 34000 films made by YIAC participants on social causes that act as invaluable communication resources for free use of NGOs. We have launched the second edition of CHANGEMAKER Awards to honour and support the projects of past participants of YES! i am the CHANGE who have gone beyond filmmaking, developed innovative solutions and consistently contributed towards various social causes.

YES FOUNDATION Media for Social Change Fellowship, a program to develop socially conscious youth leadership in association with ISDI-WPP School of Communication and supported by International Advertising Association- India Chapter saw Fellows create communication resources like social media campaigns, websites, case studies, films, etc., for NGOs with guidance from industry leaders. This year, the Fellowship had participation of 45 Fellows and 19 NGOs.

How is this particular foundation driving a social change in our country?

Through our mindset transformation programs that harness the power of media, we focus on inculcating the value of responsible citizenship amongst the youth. YES! i am the CHANGE, proved that youth learn best through experiential learning and engaging with social causes in a language they understand. Youth can turn into change makers and inspire their surroundings and family to engage constructively towards social causes. In less than four years, We sensitized and engaged over 20 lakh youths with various social causes and created invaluable communication resource of over 34,000 films for the use of NGOs. I believe that hanneling of youth energy into social action is critical for inclusive development. Over the past two years, the Foundation has built up the capacity of more than 1,000 NGO leaders and professionals in communication to amplify their social impact. Our programs have been designed with the aim of developing the social sector as a whole.

Tell us about “YES! i am the CHANGE“.

YES! i am the CHANGE (YIAC) is the flagship program launched in the year 2013. It is a mindset transformation program to drive responsible youth citizenship through the medium of films. As part of YIAC 101-Hour Social Filmmaking Challenge, participants make 3-minute short films on social issues which form an open repository of invaluable communication resources for the use of NGOs. The process of participation and exposure to various social causes leads to the inner transformation of the youth, builds association with causes and makes them agents of social change.

The 34,000 films we have received as part of YIAC act as open communication resources for NGOs. This year, the 101-Hour Social Filmmaking Challenge engaged over 13 lakh youth from 2,500 locations. It has also reached 3,600 colleges and schools through workshops, media and screening of YIAC films etc.

What are your Future plans?

In 2017, we will launch an NGO Fellowship as part of YES Enabler. It will be a 6-month intensive capacity building program for leaders of mid-size NGOs, enabling them to set up effective internal systems, access CSR funding and achieve scale.

We will also launch the YES Platform to catalyse development of a supportive ecosystem and facilitate interaction/ partnerships between Corporates, Government and NGOs.

We are looking at further scaling up our Media for Social Change Fellowship and extending it to three major cities in India – Mumbai, Bangalore and Delhi with participation of about 200 Fellows and 60 NGOs. The applications for the Fellowship will open in mid-January, 2017.

We have also launched awareness and pledge Campaign on Organ Donation, in association with National Organ and Tissue Transplant Organization (NOTTO).

Can you tell us about the idea behind the mentorship lab?

The YES FOUNDATION Social Film Grant is creating a niche in the social film space. In the inaugural year, 2000 filmmakers participated and shared ideas to develop engaging stories conceptualised around the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The 11 filmmakers with the best concept took part in a two-day mentoring lab where they received input from industry experts to script and storyboard their ideas. The greatest takeaway for filmmakers was the input mentors provided on their projects, which further enabled them to hone their skills.

The mentoring lab was followed by a pitch where an eminent jury including stalwarts like Piyush Pandey, Shivendra Singh Dungarpur, Jaco Cilliers etc selected the 4 best concepts for commissioning.

Can you throw some light on few success stories that have changed an individual’s life?

There are quite a few such stories. Leena Kejriwal, a YES! i am the CHANGE participant and YES FOUNDATION Changemaker 2015 awardee, inspired by her YIAC experience has gone beyond making a YIAC film and started an international awareness campaign to sensitise people about human trafficking. Leena’s MISSING initiative, a public art project and awareness campaign has received widespread appreciation across India and globally (especially in UK and USA).

Leena, with the grant support and guidance from YES FOUNDATION, launched a smartphone app – MISSING, a game for a cause as part of the inaugural YES FOUNDATION Changemaker Initiative. The MISSING App is an augmented reality animation, which allows the player to experience the human toll of trafficking. The end screen takes you to a list of current petitions, which one can sign, and help in making the laws stronger and a list of NGOs nearby, which one can contact and help.

The MISSING Game App was recently lauded as the ‘Indie Game of the Year’ by NASSCOM Gaming Forum Awards 2016. Another YIAC participant, Ravi Iyer made a film on an inspirational 63-year-old woman named Roxanne Davur, who runs an animal shelter called Probably Paradise. Ravi and his team have become active supporters of the shelter and used the YIAC film to raise Rs 10 lakh to set up several solar panels, LED lights and DC fans, along with a solar geyser at the animal shelter. Apart from animal rights, they are actively mentoring and educating underprivileged children from municipal schools in filmmaking and skill development. Ravi and his team have started making films for NGOs to create a long term impact on society.

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