Building our communities: giving schoolchildren a better start in India

As a global company, Rockwell Collins recognizes the value of creating a culture of investment in the communities where our employees live and work. In fact, our company contributes more than $5.8 million to our communities annually through the Rockwell Collins Charitable Giving Corporation. But it doesn't stop there: Every year, thousands of our employees demonstrate their commitment to their community in myriad ways, too.

At the Rockwell Collins India Design Center in Hyderabad, India, for instance, a group of volunteers has created an organization, Sahaayam, to focus their impact on the community, with a special emphasis on removing obstacles to children's education.

Case in point: Smile School, a small building in an impoverished area of Gachibowli, Hyderabad, that serves 21 elementary school-age children. Outfitted with only the most basic amenities, the school is a place where children with an average age of 7 to 8 come to learn. But Smile School lacked textbooks, writing materials and learning charts, and it needed essential equipment, such as rechargeable lights.

After visiting the school many times and tallying a list of its needs, Senior Software Engineer Satya Kiran Kumpatla and Sahaayam stepped up in a big way.

Satya Kiran Kumpatla (standing, far right) and fellow Rockwell Collins employee volunteers visit schoolchildren and their teachers at Smile School in Hyderabad. (View larger version)

The group raised money for these supplies and more. But that wasn't the end of the story. Today, Sahaayam volunteers visit Smile School every second Saturday of the month, spending time with the children, narrating morality stories and teaching good values. On occasion, Sahaayam sponsors Saturday lunches for the students.

"During the Indian festival of Diwali, the Sahaayam team bought new clothes, sweets and crackers for the children at Smile School," Satya Kiran says. "The happiness on the children's faces that day is one of my favorite memories at the school."

Through fundraising and collaboration with local and regional organizations, Sahaayam has offset school fees and provided supplies for students in other parts of Hyderabad as well. Volunteers conducted a donation drive at the India Design Center, raising enough money to purchase 90 school kits for underprivileged students. Each kit typically includes a school bag, notebooks, pens, a geometry set, labels and study charts.

Enabling education is a large part of the core mission for both Sahaayam and Satya Kiran. But it's not the only one. "The group operates from a strong sense of social responsibility and reaching out to those in need," says Satya Kiran. In its four years of existence, Sahaayam has also organized blood drives and clothing donations, as well as joined relief efforts to assist victims of the June 2013 floods and landslides in the famous pilgrimage destination of Uttarakhand, India.

"Whenever Sahaayam engages in community-based activities, we always receive huge support from India Design Center employees and management," Satya Kiran says. "It's a large part of what makes the work we do so successful."

Meet Satya Kiran Kumpatla, senior software engineer in Hyderabad, India, who led a team of volunteers to provide schoolchildren in an impoverished area of the city with essential materials for learning.