Kanya; Instructor, Arti Balakrishna
Kumon founder, Toru Kumon, envisioned that the Kumon Method would not only enable students to reach their maximum potential academically, but also foster sound, capable people who would contribute to the global community. Yale graduate and Kumon Reading Program completer, Kanya Balakrishna, is the co-founder of The Future Project, a national service and education initiative whose vision is to create a world in which everyone is inspired.
Kanya recognized that in addition to the achievement gap that exists in underrepresented communities, there is also an “inspiration gap” that tends to be overlooked in education reform in the U.S. By giving these students a partner and the opportunity to be a positive force in their community, she hopes to inspire them and help them see that their potential is limitless.
Kanya turned this ambition into a reality, when she gathered a group of volunteers at a Kumon Center to share her vision for a non-profit organization. Less than a year later, The Future Project was a reality and, in 2011, began uniting “Future Coaches” (extraordinary college students) and “Future Fellows” (high school students from low-income neighborhoods). The team works together to develop the high school student’s passion into a project that makes a difference in their school or community.
“Both Kumon and my parents taught me early on that every student has unique strengths and passions that are just waiting to be unleashed,” Kanya said. “Through The Future Project, we are building a movement through which young people everywhere are using these strengths and passions to change the world.”
Today, The Future Project has launched in three major U.S. cities, including New York, Washington, D.C., and New Haven, and has more than 500 Future Coaches and Future Fellows. Each member of the Balakrishna family has supported and been involved in Kanya’s dream, and in doing so have inspired the entire Kumon Community.
Kanya is the daughter of Kumon Instructors, Arti and Bala Balakrishna, and started the program at the young age of three when her family was living in Japan. By 13, she completed the reading program, reached level K in math, and became an assistant at her mother’s center in Tennessee. In high school, Kanya achieved a perfect score on her SAT (in both math and verbal), and went on to graduate from Yale University. Upon graduating, she served as the chief speechwriter to Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Margaret Hamburg. Today she is dedicated to transforming schools and communities all over the world.
The entire Balakrishna family is passionate about the Kumon program. Mother, Arti, has been an Instructor since 2000; father, Bala, opened a center in January 2012. Kanya’s sisters, Aditi, and Anjali, completed the math and reading programs, and also worked as assistants in their mother’s Kumon Center. Following in Kanya’s footsteps, they both went on to accomplish top level academic achievements at Ivy League universities.
“The Kumon program provided our daughters, Kanya, Aditi and Anjali, with the opportunity to master the basics to a point that they could have the freedom to make their own decisions about the future,” Arti said. “Now, The Future Project is giving students all over the country the opportunity to be empowered and inspired, too – and we couldn’t be more proud that this is what Kanya has chosen to do.”