Scholarships by Reliance: Impact study observes multiplier effect

An evaluation of scholarships provided by Reliance through the years, found that beyond immediate individual scholar impact, there has been multiplier effect at a household, organisation and societal level.

Reliance has been providing scholarships to meritorious students through Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship (DAS) since 1996 and through the Reliance Foundation Scholarships from 2020-21. A study was conducted by 4th Wheel Social Impact between March and June 2022, with focus on understanding the impact of the DAS programme on scholars supported between 2015 and 2020.

Guided by Reliance Founder-Chairman, late Shri Dhirubhai Ambani’s belief that the best way to ensure the nation’s progress is to invest in its youth, the Dhirubhai Ambani Scholarship programme supported meritorious students of standard XII to pursue college education in the stream of their choice.

Top ranking students of Central Board of Secondary Education (CBSE) and State Boards across 28 states and 5 Union Territories are identified based on need and provided financial support over the course of three years. Funds cover tuition fees and costs related to transport, accommodation, books, stationery, and various other allowances needed for the duration of graduation. Since inception, there have been 12,737 DAS recipients with equal gender ratio, including 2,755 specially abled scholars representing over 20 percent of the total scholars supported by this programme.

A total of 946 respondents (527 scholars and 413 parents), along with DAS team members and representatives from State and CBSE Boards participated in the study that included a mixed methods approach. Quantitative information and qualitative inputs were gathered through surveys and semi-structured interviews.

The study found the following:

Impact on Scholars

The scholarship is highly relevant for scholars who are from economically vulnerable backgrounds and for females, who report much higher probabilities of dropping out of education without scholarship support. The programme reduces the financial burdens faced by scholars and their families and enables them to pursue higher education in streams and colleges of their choice and move to bigger towns and cities without heavy debts incurred.

Being recipients of the DAS scholarship has very positive impacts on their own self-esteem, confidence and aspirations, and strengthens their academic and professional profiles. The scholarship has enabled scholars to pursue higher education and get good jobs. Through access to higher education and studying in good institutions they are exposed to varied education and career opportunities, have higher academic performance and get access to a strong support system and network of teachers, staff, mentors, and peers. A large proportion of scholars pursue medical and science related degrees signifying DAS’s support to creating skilled professionals across crucial sectors of the country.

  • 72% respondents said they have improved academic performance
  • 75% respondents said they have experienced increased aspirations
  • 97% respondents said they were motivated to work harder in academics

Impact on Female Scholars

  • 78% female respondents reported that the scholarship raising their education and career aspirations
  • 22% female respondents felt without the scholarship they would not be able to study in thecollege/university

Impacts on Households

Many scholars represent a success story among their families and communities signifying how education leads to upward economic mobility and job stability. The programme supports scholars to pursue higher education, get good jobs and contribute to their household incomes. Scholar salaries are a stable source of income and form a significant proportion of overall household incomes. It creates upward economic mobility of scholars hailing from financially vulnerable backgrounds, where parents work in agriculture or the unorganised sector. Scholar salaries support an improvement in ownership of assets, sibling education, and better quality of life.

  • 87% contribute to household income
  • 25% support sibling education
  • 61% bought assets

Organisational Impacts

Even though scholars are at a very nascent stage of their careers: in managerial or executive roles, results are very heartening with several scholars having contributed to innovations, product and service development within their organisations. Since the scholarship supports meritorious students, it is certain scholars go onto make great strides in their professional lives, and contribute to organisational successes in terms of innovations, awards and accolades.

  • 36% improved organisational processes and functions
  • 17% contributed to new service development
  • 11% developed new innovative product

Community Impacts

Scholars gain increased confidence, admissions in good education institutes and get access to enhanced opportunities which enables them to partake in extra-curricular activities and be involved with social change endeavours. They are part of community groups like college clubs, welfare and charity groups, National Cadet Corps and professional support groups. Many hold leadership positions within these groups and at their colleges and workplaces. Scholars have contributed to social change by volunteering at NGOs and working closely with community issues like women empowerment, education, de-addiction drives, waste management and cleanliness, health and hygiene awareness, etc. Scholars showcase high levels of gratitude towards the DAS support and exhibit strong interests to contribute back to society by guiding or mentoring students like themselves and participating in alumni networks. While they are provided with these platforms at a university level, their engagement and involvement with societal change endeavours reduce when they enter the job market. For this sustained involvement it is crucial to provide them with alumni networks and platforms to pay it forward to the next batches of scholars after them.

  • 20% of the respondents contributed to social change
  • 10% of the respondents said that they are part of community groups
  • 8% of the respondents contributed to programmes and policy changes

In 2020, Reliance Foundation launched the ‘Reliance Foundation Scholarships in Artificial Intelligence and Computer Sciences’ to achieve a deeper impact in the field of frontier sciences and engineering that are playing a key role in shaping India’s future.

In 2022, Reliance Foundation enhanced its commitment to India’s youth to support 50,000 students with scholarships over the next 10 years, aiming to nurture talented youth from across the country who have the potential to drive the nation’s future success for social good.

For 2022-2023, Reliance Foundation is awarding Undergraduate Scholarships to support up to 5,000 meritorious undergraduate students based on a merit-cum-means criteria for their undergraduate college education, empowering them to continue their studies without financial burden, and 100 of India's brightest postgraduate students studying eligible subjects in new technologies through the Reliance Foundation Postgraduate Scholarships. As scholarships have a great potential to nurture and empower meritorious students, Reliance Foundation believes that this approach will create robust, vibrant and engaged young professionals, who drive India’s growth.

Click here to know more about the Reliance Foundation Scholarships.


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