Co-founder of Malala Fund Shiza Shahid in ’30 Under 30’ list of the International Literacy Association

Annual list includes student at NYU Sudhanshu Kaushik.

By Raif Karerat

Shisa shahid
Shiza Shahid

The International Literacy Association (ILA), a global advocacy organization dedicated to advancing literacy for all, recognized two South Asians — Sudhansu Kaushik and Shiza Shahid —  when it released its inaugural “30 Under 30” list.

According to an ILA release, the list recognizes the next generation of young innovators, advocates and educators who are leading efforts to address the challenges of today’s evolving education landscape and make a difference in the global literacy landscape.

ILA’s 30 Under 30 list highlights young trailblazers from 13 countries and several different sectors and includes nonprofit leaders, classroom teachers, authors, volunteers, researchers, technology startup founders, and entrepreneurs.

Sudhansu “Sudhi” Kaushik, 20, is a native of India and is currently studying at NYU. He is the founder and chief executive of Equality Initiative and editor-in chief of The Maverick.

Kaushik founded Equality Initiative in 2014 as a student-led organization with officers studying in American universities, which sponsors teachers to set up classrooms in rural and impoverished villages and slums to raise literacy rates.

According to the ILA, Equality Initiative has employed 32 teachers, reaching out to more than 600 students ages 6 to 67 in India and Sri Lanka.

Kaushik also founder and editor-in-chief of The Maverick, a free newspaper that provides news to Indian youths who do not have internet access or a solid grasp of English.

“I’m most proud of the fact that because of the Equality Initiative, an adult can for the first time in his life learn to write and sign his name,” Kaushik told Literacy Today, ILA’s bi-monthly magazine. “People are given another life and outlook with education.”

Shiza Shahid, 26, grew up in Pakistan grew up in Pakistan under a military dictatorship and dreamed of working for women’s rights. She started at a young age, volunteering in women’s prisons at 13 and in an earthquake relief camp at 16.

During the summer following her sophomore year at Stanford University, she organized an educational retreat for girls in the capital city of Islamabad, which is where she met education activist Malala Yousafzai.

After Malala was shot, Shahid encouraged her family to keep the mission going and began the Malala Fund, which advocates for policy change at a global level to drive more resources towards universal education.

“Literacy is so much more than knowing how to read and write,” Shahid told Literacy Today. “It’s about being equipped with the tools that empower you to think critically, to create a better life for yourself, and to improve your community.

ILA’s full 30 Under 30 list includes:

  • Oluwaseun “Seun” AINA, 27, Founder/CEO, Magical Books, Nigeria
  • Jennifer ALBRO, 29, Founder/President, Pages & Chapters, Washington, DC
  • Louise BAIGELMAN, 28, Executive Director, Story Share, New York
  • Nic BORG, 27, Cofounder, Edmodo, California
  • Jimmy BORGELLA, 27, Founder/President, VIE Jeunes, Haiti
  • Marique DAUGHERTY, 21, Language and Literacy Specialist, Jamaica
  • Ana DODSON, 23, Founder, Peruvian Hearts, Peru/Colorado
  • Katie EDER, 15, Founder, Kids Tales, Wisconsin
  • Kevin ENGLISH, 25, English Teacher, Wayne Memorial High School, Michigan
  • Jennifer ESTRADA, 28, Director, HerStory Initiative, a collaboration of LitWorld and Global G.L.O.W., New York
  • Benjamin FREEMAN, 25, Founder/Executive Director, Liberia Institute for the Promotion of Academic Excellence (LIPACE), Liberia
  • Alejandro GAC-ARTIGAS, 26, Founder/CEO, Springboard Collaborative, Pennsylvania
  • Ines GUILLORME, 25, English Teacher, Decroly School, Spain
  • Sudhanshu “Sudhi” KAUSHIK, 20, Founder/CEO, Equality Initiative; Editor-in-Chief, The Maverick, New York
  • Amy MERRILL, 27, Third-Grade Teacher, East Dale Elementary, West Virginia
  • Emma MOGUS, 16, Cofounder, Books With No Bounds, Canada
  • Julia MOGUS, 18, Cofounder, Books With No Bounds, Canada
  • Amanda NELMS, 29, English Language Development Specialist, Metro Nashville Public Schools, Tennessee
  • Madison PAYTON, 29, English Teacher, Eagle Academy for Young Men II, New York
  • Christina RICHARD, 24, Special Education Teacher, New York City Public School 8, New York
  • Shiza SHAHID, 26, Cofounder, Malala Fund, New York
  • Bhawana SHRESTHA, 25, English Teacher, Jyotidaya Cooperative School, Nepal
  • Meagan STASS, 28, Seventh-Grade Math Teacher and Team Leader, Barrington Middle School-Prairie, Illinois
  • Andrew SUTHERLAND, 24, Founder/CTO, Quizlet, California
  • Selassie TAY, 29, Founder/Executive Director, Tongu Youth Agenda for Development, Ghana
  • Dylan TEUT, 26, Director, Plum Creek Children’s Literacy Festival, Nebraska
  • Ryan TRAYNOR, 16, Founder, Redwood City Public Library Youth Literacy Council, California
  • Jon M. WARGO, 29, PhD candidate, Michigan State University, Michigan
  • James WHELTON, 23, Cofounder, CoderDojo; Founder, CoderDojo Foundation, Ireland
  • Sandy WOOD, 24, English Teacher, Jhamtse Gatsal Children’s Community, India.

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