From New Immigrant to Empowering Underserved Texas Students With More Than 25,000 Books

Daily Point of Light # 7689 Nov 22, 2023

Meet Daily Point of Light Award honoree Rohan Satija. Read his story, and nominate an outstanding volunteer or family as a Daily Point of Light.

In the heart of Texas, a young person’s compassionate vision has transformed into a pipeline for education to thousands. Rohan Satija, along with his sister, Anya, co-founded the Let’s Learn Foundation in 2018, and since then, they have been unwavering in their mission to provide underserved students in Texas with the priceless gift of knowledge.

Rohan’s journey began with a personal struggle. Immigrating to the United States from New Zealand at the age of 10, he faced the daunting challenge of acclimating to a new environment. In these challenging times, he found solace in the world of books – an escape that many take for granted.

“I just felt isolated on this new continent due to cultural barriers,” Rohan shared. “I often felt lonely, and I found comfort in books since I’d been an avid reader my whole life. I eventually connected with others who also shared a love for books. Books really became a catalyst for change in my life.”

Rohan has always loved the much-needed escape that books can provide.

However, Rohan soon realized that not all children had the same access to this magical world, a realization that sparked a fire within him. Moved by the circumstance of countless school-aged kids in Austin lacking access to books, Rohan, together with his sister Anya, decided it was time to make a change.

“In middle school, we were doing a school project about social inequities in my area,” Rohan recalled. “Being a reader, I knew that I wanted to research something about books. And I came across this phenomenon of book deserts – areas where students don’t have access to books of their own. I looked at some statistics in Central Texas and found that the disparity was pretty shocking. I talked to my sister about this, and we knew we had to make a change.”

Starting humbly with lemonade stands and homemade cookies, the siblings’ determination knew no bounds. What began as a small initiative, the Let’s Learn Foundation has now grown into a substantial force, supported by various school districts, businesses and esteemed institutions like the Dell Children’s Hospital. As CEO, Rohan has been instrumental in coordinating book donations, fundraisers, book drives and collaborations with organizations like Active Minds.

Since its inception, the Let’s Learn Foundation has achieved remarkable feats. More than 25,000 books and 100,000 school supplies have been donated to more than 10,000 underserved students in Central Texas. The organization currently serves 11 school districts in the area and has expanded to include school supplies, including full backpacks, in its donation efforts.

Rohan has learned how to make donations stretch a long way by purchasing books from The Dollar Store so he can reach as many kids as possible.

Rohan and his sister Anya are not just the brains behind the operations; they are also the hands and feet, personally visiting schools to donate books, engaging in the entire process of gathering, packing and distributing these gifts of knowledge.

“Literacy is really the key to any sort of success or knowledge in life,” Rohan said. “I believe that it’s really important to be literate in order to understand the world, the world’s processes, and one great way to do that is through books themselves. They can provide so much knowledge and perspective about so many other parts of the world, characters and processes in place across the globe.”

One of the most heartwarming initiatives Rohan helps lead is the Christmas project. Each year, volunteers collect, wrap and distribute books, ensuring that every student in an elementary school receives a personalized gift. This gesture not only provides educational resources but also brings joy and a sense of belonging to these young minds during the festive season.

Now, Rohan and Anya’s organization is looking to expand. They are currently authoring a children’s book, Myra’s Melody, to teach kids about how to work through fear and insecurity. The book will be self-published and released in November 2023.

Let’s Learn Foundation relies on donations, which allows Rohan and other volunteers to contribute books to local schools and libraries.

He shared, “My sister and I are both passionate mental health advocates, so we really want to take Let’s Learn and also put a focus on mental health education. We collaborated with Active Minds, a leading mental health nonprofit, and we’re working with them to donate mental health education kits to middle schools. These will include some books about mental health, some wellness worksheets, some resources for positive wellbeing and some fun bookmarks with wellness messages. We’d like to donate these to underserved schools.”

Rohan’s story is not just about books; it’s about the power of empathy, initiative and perseverance. From feeling isolated as a new immigrant to becoming a beacon of hope for thousands, Rohan’s journey with the Let’s Learn Foundation is a testament to the impact one individual can have on society. His dedication to bridging the educational gap for underserved students in Texas is an inspiring tale of compassion and the transformative power of volunteerism.

“I believe that if you’re passionate about something, it’s very important to go out and make some change in your community,” Rohan encouraged. “I know a lot of people get nervous about making a big impact, because they’re so passionate about the cause. My advice is to start small. We started pretty small – raising $50 and buying a couple dozen books from The Dollar Store. Eventually, we were able to expand. So don’t be afraid to start small. It’s so important to make any sort of change, at any level, in something you’re passionate about.”

Do you want to make a difference in your community like Rohan? Find local volunteer opportunities.

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