Bridging Gaps: Isha Godara's Quest for Equality in Education

We had conversation with Isha Godara, an Alberta School of Business Alumna and co-founder of JIVAM Foundation, an organization provides free education, digital library and an after school program to the children of Kheowali Village in India.

*the following conversation has been edited for clarity and brevity.

Isha Godara's commitment to community service is a legacy passed down through generations. Godara, ‘21 BCom, grew up in a small village in India, keenly aware of the stark disparities in her society. As she grew up she noticed as her family worked tirelessly — her grandfather forever championing the marginalized, her mother committed to helping those around her — to uplift their community. 

Now less than two years after graduating from the Alberta School of Business, Godara has taken what she’s learned and experiences she’s had at university, along with the values instilled in her by her family, to launch JIVAM Foundation, a foundation committed to providing education to children in her community.

“Real impact can spring from the simplest acts of love and care,” says Godara.


An international experience

As an international student from India, Godara was determined to make the most of her time in Canada at the University of Alberta. Transfering from the Augustana campus to the Alberta School of Business in her second year, she wrote for the university magazine, helped organize International Week, represented the Alberta School of Business in various case competitionschaired the TEDx conference, and was a scholar of the Peter Lougheed Leadership College, among many other achievements

Godara thrived when given the chance to interact with students from diverse faculties and loved fostering insightful discussions about pressing social issues. Yet throughout her time at the U of A, never lost sight of her privilege. 

“It is my moral duty to use the incredible education I've received for the betterment of my community,” says Godara. “My purpose transcends personal success; it's about utilizing my skills and knowledge to build a brighter future for those around me."


Committed to giving back

The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic brought unprecedented challenges to people worldwide in very distinct ways. On one side were individuals like Godara, struggling with the complexities of online education. On the other hand, there were countless others who faced the cruel reality of an education void, lacking the access to learning opportunities, she says. She was worried that these students would be the ones who are trapped in the vicious cycle of poverty due to the lack of access to education during trying times. 

In order to help these students her brother and Godara started teaching children in her community for a few hours a week. Over time, they extended their engagement to include extracurricular activities. Godara was inspired by the talent and determination of these students. 

"Intelligence is evenly distributed, and if we fail to invest in the potential of every individual, we collectively lose as a society." she remembers hearing Dr. Randall Morck say in one of her finance classes at the Alberta School of Business. 

The JIVAM Foundation was born from this belief. 

The foundation operates an after-school program in Kheowali, Sirsa, Haryana, India, dedicated to empowering local children. Its approach includes homework assistance, computer education, and leadership programming, which draws inspiration from the Peter Lougheed Leadership program at the U of A. The foundation plans a diverse range of activities, featuring guest speakers, engaging initiatives, and advocacy campaigns. Alongside this, JIVAM runs a free of cost computer library 

Godara emphasizes the critical need for quality education and infrastructure in her village'school. To bridge this gap, the foundation deploys dedicated teachers and undertakes essential infrastructural improvements. It relies on funding from a network of friends, family, and even distant acquaintances, with plans to expand its fundraising efforts in Canada. 

The cost of supporting one student's education amounts to a mere $15 per month. Along with co-founders Michelle Kim and Melania Antoszko whom she met at the U of A, their hope with the JIVAM foundation is to empower young students to think on their own, and give them the tools to be independent. 

According to Godara, it is her co-founder Michelle’s perspective that has become the foundation’s ethos:  “While we can’t help everyone, everyone can help someone.”



Equipping Godara for success

According to Godara, the U of A gave her the confidence and skills to succeed in starting a foundation. As a student, she was able to meet so many interesting people passionate about making a change in their communities.

These people encouraged her to take part in numerous extracurriculars. She learned things like how to start and manage an organization, how to build a team, and so much more.

She has two pieces of advice for current students: explore people and opportunities and find a cause and commit yourself to it.

“We need to decide what cause we want to champion and go for it. We have the skills and tools to do great things as students and grads of the U of A.”  




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