A middle-school journey to India turned into more than a memorable trip for now 18-year-old Anish Bikmal. What the Cumming resident saw inspired him to co-found an educational nonprofit that supports other students in his community.
“My brother, Anirudh, and I had a goal to give back, and on that trip, we went through an organization called Share Your Care to learn about what was happening in India,” recalled Bikmal, a senior at South Forsyth High. “We thought about approaching the problem of world hunger by serving meals, but that’s not sustainable; educating people so they can provide for themselves is better. That’s how it started.”
When the brothers returned home, they launched Motivate and Inspire, a nonprofit that raises funds to support Share Your Care and other charities by educating young students in the Cumming community.
“We both were interested in advanced science and math competitions,” said Bikmal. “We thought it would be good to start classes for people who were in the competitive math club. Some of those students were interested in teaching the courses they were interested in. And we found they sometimes taught better than adults because they could relate to the students.”
When Anirudh graduated from high school, Bikmal took over leadership of the program that has grown to include 40 students and 14 tutors who receive volunteer service hours for their time. The tutoring fees are donated, and so far, more than $50,000 has been raised.
“It’s largely been done by word of mouth,” said Bikmal. “We put up fliers in public libraries and local stores. We started in my basement, but we also go out to people’s homes. A lot of my friends have now started branches in their neighborhoods.”
Bikmal has also organized motivational and informational programs at his high school.
“We’ve had successful people from the area come to school or the local library to inspire students,” he said. “We also hosted a college readiness seminar with students who go to top colleges coming in to share their successes.”
South Forsyth Principal Laura Wilson noted that Bikmal gets all the credit for those events.
“All I did was show up and open the building,” she said. “He’s organized college days, gathered students who graduated from local schools and went on to elite colleges talk to our students, he created slides about the universities they were attending.
“Last year, he and his friends organized a TEDx program for high schoolers. And this year, he’s also playing on our state-winning varsity tennis team, and he’s full-time dual-enrolled at Georgia Tech. But he’s not doing community service just to put it on his resume; he gives a lot of time to the nonprofit so it can make a difference.”
Bikmal was recently honored with a Prudential Spirit of Community Award that came with a $1,000 scholarship and a trip to Washington, D.C. The award recognizes young people across the country for their volunteer service. Before that trip, Bikmal may have to pick one of the seven elite schools that have offered him admission for the fall. But that isn’t distracting him from keeping the nonprofit going.
“The only way we can improve as a society is by working together,” he said.
To learn more about Motivate and Inspire, visit motivate-inspire.com.
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