Our Program

The WEP Center

The WEP Center is a lively, safe place within the NGO partner.  After the college day, young women, who all receive scholarships to area colleges, come to the Center to meet friends, study and participate in the I Am a Leader Academy activities, a rigorous curriculum of career guidance, exploration and readiness.  At these Centers, young women find their voice, discover career ambitions, expand their understandings and ignite their inner spark.  Students attend a WEP Center throughout their college years – typically spending three years. 

WEP Center Diagram

I Am a Leader Academy: A student-directed certificate program to discover the leader within, awareness of career interest and its required skills. 

Scholarships: WEP provides scholarships to area colleges and other institutions.

Community: A place to enjoy time with friends and study in a supportive, safe environment.

Classes, Tutoring, Library and Computer Labs, Study Space: To help students excel in the college classroom, receive an I am a Leader certificate and learn among their peers.

Nutrition and Fitness and other activities: Center Directors arrange karate, book club, current event discussions and debates based on student interest.

Home Visits / Family Guidance: Center leaders visit homes to ensure students participation and parental support.

Alumnae Association: Graduates keep in touch, stay involved, and support current students.

WEP Center Activities

WEP Center Activities

Home visit

WEP Center Activities

English class

WEP Center Activities

Study time

I Am a Leader Academy

I Am a Leader Activities

Village research

WEP I am a Leader Activity

Visit to Gandi Museum

I Am a Leader

Meeting bees at an apiary

I Am a Leader Academy

A vision-expanding curriculum exploring life’s opportunities and ideas. Weekends and holidays, WEP scholars direct this certificate curriculum of speakers, workshops, field trips, internships, training programs, courses and activities expanding awareness of: leadership, health, nutrition, personal finance, civics, communication, entrepreneurialism, technology, and the environment.

Through I Am a Leader, WEP students become confident, informed leaders in their homes, communities, and, most importantly, of their own lives. They are positioned to enter fulfilling careers of their own interest and to play their part in an increasingly global world.

“My favorite part of I am a leader is the life skills workshops to help our students make informed decisions, communicate effectively and [become self-reliant]. Students have a huge potential. I Am a Leader also imparts soft skills relating to emotional and social intelligence to cope in a competitive world.”

A. Vijayalakshmi, Sudar Center Director

“I Am A Leader journals teach life skills, taught neither at college nor home. These journals fill the important gaps in their understanding of the world around them.  The self confidence, skills, and self-worth they develop at WEP – one cannot put a price tag on it.”

Esther Subhashini, Hyderabad Center Director

“In our first year in Madurai, we noticed girls crying to friends about their mother’s illness, a loan shark’s visit, or their own marriage pressure. We began I Am a Leader for young women to understand and gain their voice by visiting their community, meeting women leaders, volunteering and discovering career options.”

Zoë Timms, Founding Director

I Am a Leader Certificates

  • Leadership: a series of workshops to discover their inner leader and voice
  • Career Exploration: seven adventures to meet women and learn about their careers at banks, organic farms, apiaries, hospitals, factories and others workplaces
  • Career Skills: to prepare for a career by taking online and classroom courses (financial literacy, language, Microsoft suite, coding
  • Take Action For Good: to develop a new habit for 30 days
  • Entrepreneurship: to design a product and learn how to take it to market
  • Capstone Project: to complete a creative career-focused project
  • Career Choice: to meet a mentor with resume and career plan in hand.

Our Students & Alumnae

WEP Students
WEP leaf graphic

WEP students are young women, high school graduates, in critical need of financial, academic and social support. Due to poverty’s overwhelming pressures, they lack confidence, study skills, and the ability to express themselves. They are unaware of their potential – and their opportunities. In spite of these deficits, they have the ambition and grit to graduate from college and enter a career.

WEP students are:

  • ages 17-28
  • living under the poverty line
  • from semi-urban and urban communities
  • 10th grade graduates
  • whose parents are mostly illiterate or semi-literate, daily-wage workers

Our Students

Hi I am Vasantha, I am 24 and live in a remote village. I dropped out of my 2nd year of intermediate because of pressure from my family. My parents are older, my older sisters were married off at a young age. My brother is handicapped and can’t work. I had to work to support the family. I insisted that I go back to college and I succeeded. I worked at an Institute for the deaf and did a 2yr diploma in Hyderabad. I now have a job as a teacher. I travel 3 hours to school and teach 1st class to the 7th classes and am paid 6000/- Rs. Much of my salary goes to bus fare but I can’t afford hostel fees. I want to study sign language and a P.G in Political Science. I have still withstood the pressure to get married.

Esther Subhashini, the Director of the Ushassu WEP Center Ushassu, wrote:” This girl is the spirit of Ushassu.”

My name is Lalitha. I have completed the Basic Computer class at WEP Sudar and am studying a Bachelor’s Degree in Commerce (Business), at a Madurai college. I hope to be an accountant. I appreciate the exposure to new things that WEP has allowed me. I have visited the court house and the YMCA deaf school, both of which I would not have been able to do without WEP.

I am close with my family. My mother works as a helper and my father is a security guard at a hospital. I know that women’s education is vital to get a good position in society.

MeetT. Patham Priya
My name is T. Patham Priya, I’m an engineering student, currently studying Electronics and Communications Engineering at the Sethu Institute of Technology. I have 1 more year until graduation! Through English classes at WEP’s Sudar programs, I now feel comfortable about finding a job after graduation, as I must work right away – my father deceased, and my mother makes very little. I want to work to support my younger brother’s education, and help my family leave the “poor state”. Sudar is a place where I can vent about these problems. There are people to talk to, and friends I can share everything with. My favorite workshop at WEP is the “Life Skills” workshop, as it allows us to find solutions to real world problems.
Yellow Fleurs

Our Alumnae

My name is Mahalakshmi and I completed by final year B.A.English and B. Ed at a college in Madurai. My father drives an auto driver and does not take care of our family. My mother is illiterate, and despite this, and not even knowing how to count money, started a small snack shop at a bus stand. After college hours, I helped my mother in her business. Now I teach the 6th standard at a school in Madurai.
I successfully completed my BDS Degree with lots of struggle and support from helping hands. Now I am practicing in a private clinic at Koodal Nagar. I like one beautiful proverb is that “A friend in deed is a friend in need” likewise Sudar has given me lots of support when I was in need. Sudar equip me in a very well manner especially reading habit & communication skills. I always proud to being a part of the WEP-Sudar family. I would like to convey my gratitude to every legends of Sudar Foundation for doing such a great job.
My name is Tamilarasi. I just graduated with my BA degree from Madurai Kamaraj College. The workshops are extremely helpful. I loved the one conducted by Aravind Eye Hospital. I now have a clear idea about job opportunities for my perspective future at a hospital. I work part time in a medical shop, while I apply for jobs. My dream for the future is to eventually get my BL, a law degree. I also love leading the workshops at Sudar- which has helped me improve my leadership skills. I enjoy the uplifting atmosphere of Sudar, the fun drama workshops, and games that we play together.

Alumnae Association

WEP Alumnae Association

WEP Alumnae visit the Madurai Center

WEP Dark Orange Leaves

Like all poor women in South Asia living on less than $1.90 a day, the background and life of a WEP student is hard. And the reality is that, even after moving up and obtaining relatively well-paid employment, her hold on happiness and security may, for a variety of reasons – frequently domestic – be precarious.

At the same time, WEP alumnae are deeply inspiring and a rich source of knowledge and advice. Their return visits to the WEP Centers are, for both students and staff, informative and highly motivating.  

For these reasons, the doors to Alumnae are always open. A student’s association with WEP is life-long as well as life-changing.

In addition to the Alumnae newsletter, alumnae receive:

  • Scholarships to internships, training programs and online courses
  • Referrals to employment and career counseling
  • An alumnae communication platform
  • An invitation to be an I Am a Leader trainer
  • Ongoing support, as needed

Consortium & Our Partners

The WEP model – partnering with established and well-run NGO’s, rather than creating new agencies from scratch, and providing a curriculum easily adapted to local circumstance and thus transferable to other countries and cultures, ensures that WEP’s mission, is accomplished cost-effectively while meeting the needs of diverse partners and the girls and women served.

These partnerships, now formalized in a WEP-led Consortium, have placed more than 800 women (of 1200 alumnae) in their first jobs as pharmacists, lab technicians, therapists, teachers, computer operators, corporate and legal assistants, and entrepreneurs.

In October 2017, WEP held a highly successful forum attended by 28 women and girl-focused NGOs working in South Asia to discuss sharing strategies, programs and resources. Following this forum, WEP developed a five-year plan (2018-2022) to expand its Consortium to fifteen NGOs throughout South Asia, each hosting a WEP Center and using the WEP platform to share ideas, information, action plans, successes, challenges, and resources.

The Consortium will magnify greatly the reach and impact of WEP’s program while enriching each of the partner’s operations and efficiencies.

  1. The WEP NGO PARTNERS. Grassroots NGOs that receive WEP program share strategies and programs with other NGO partners. They invite:
  2. LOCAL PARTNERS. Mentors, local businesses, schools, and organizations provide students advice, field trip destinations, internships, training and possible employment.
  3. STRATEGIC PARTNERS. National or international businesses, organizations and foundations, provide funding and resources to the Consortium as a whole.

WEP’s Consortium is based on five principles:

  1. Educated and trained women can achieve parity in the globalized workforce.
  2. Small, competently managed, grassroots NGOs most effectively meet the needs of poor girls, many wishing to enter college and career.
  3. WEP’s Center model and I Am a Leader curriculum adapts easily to girl-focused NGO’s seeking a higher education and career guidance program.
  4. Businesses, private, public and nonprofit, benefit from highly motivated, educated women employees.
  5. A WEP led Consortium sharing member strategies, programs and resources leverages their impact.

WEP Center Directors at the 2018 Consortium meeting

If you are interested in joining our Consortium of NGOs and Local and Strategic Partners, please contact us.

Contact Us

Current Consortium Partners

THE WEP CENTER ATSudar Foundation
Directed by A. Vijayalakshmi
“Light” in Tamil
Madurai, Tamil Nadu, South India
Founded in 2002
Directed by Esther Subhashini
“Morning Light” in Telugu
A partnership with Cerena Foundation, in Hyderabad, Telangana
Began in 2007
Directed by P.V. Sandhya
A home for girls
Kadapa, Andhra Prades
Began in 2012
edweb beyond borders forum

edWeb.net is a WEP sponsor and award-winning professional learning network that serves the global education community. edWeb provides free edWebinars and an online forum to support women’s leadership. Below is a list of past edWeb Women’s Leadership and Education sessions.