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Meet Vishaal Kuruvanka of Promoting Education Across the Country (PEAC) in Downtown

Today we’d like to introduce you to Vishaal Kuruvanka.

Vishaal, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
We are a nonprofit organization that works to empower students in low socioeconomic communities to become social entrepreneurs and work on problems in their community.

We were started at the University of Houston in the Fall of 2015 when I was a freshman student. I arrived at UH astonished by the state of the surrounding community and wanted to use my skills, whatever they were, to help the community. I gathered two of my close friends and began speaking to HISD. HISD was optimistic and allowed for us to partner with MacGregor elementary to begin tutoring. We began and learned of the hardships that the students and teachers went through. Motivated to do more, we started to gather more students and turned it into a campus organization on our campus. We had high student interest but needed more resources to grow as an organization. We partnered with an on-campus entity, ACES institute, and they began to help us and gain more connections throughout the education sector.

When I went to go visit my friends at UT Dallas, they began to ask me what my organization was and how they could get involved. This was when PEAC was born as I began to see that there was an opportunity here to grow our idea for all other campuses across Texas. At first, we were only about mentorship, but now we have branched out to pushing our students and leaders to start their own community initiatives at their respective campuses or schools.

The students of today are the leaders of tomorrow, so it is imperative that they learn to lead and are invested in their communities.

Has it been a smooth road?
It was a great struggle at the beginning when we were trying to reach out to the HISD. We had to email almost 50 people before someone responded, so it was rough on that in the beginning.

Recently, we have been fundraising for our summit in October that will have over 200 students at UH learning about different career paths and with many speakers. This has been a challenge as it is hard for non-profit startups to raise money because the larger, established non-profits usually win grants and money from large corporations.

We’d love to hear more about your business.
We want to empower the next generation to be good in whatever field they choose to be in. To really understand the problems of our communities, we must work in the field. Our goal is to work with high school and college students to start their own initiatives in their communities so that they can learn how to lead and ultimately impact the community in a positive way.

Our organization has successfully run an event for more than 200 HISD students in May of 2018. The event allowed students to explore the University of Houston campus and engage in fun math and science activities. Our goal is to facilitate more events that give students insight into different career paths and connect them with resources that will help them reach their goal.

One of the defining characteristics of our organization is that there is no mold that you have to specifically follow when you want to open a chapter in your community. We tailor to whatever specific initiative you are interested in and connect you with leaders in that field. Also, we are an organization run by youth for the youth, which is hard to find nowadays. Introducing students to social entrepreneurship is important because any thriving community is only thriving because people are actively working for a cause they are interested in.

Is our city a good place to do what you do?
Yes, I would definitely recommend Houston because of its large population and diversity. Living and renting space is also relatively cheap. Because many companies are headquartered in Houston, it is also much easier to be connected and work in conjunction with them on many initiatives.

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