LISA HEDLAUFF, Founder & Director of Going to School and Be! An Entrepreneur

I came to India because of a story, and I came here to make stories, as they have the power to create change. Stories make us believe in possibilities, sometimes so strongly, that we change the direction of our lives.*

Lisa Heydlauff believes in the power of stories. Women, the Press & Partition, a book that she never actually read, combined with the curiosity and desire from a seven-year-old student of hers in London to hear a story, set Lisa on a path to India. Today, if the boy were to ask, “What is it like to go to school in India?”, Lisa would be able to weave together hours of stories that would not only be enjoyable but also enlightening.

School was always a place of both consistency and inspiration for Lisa, who as young American girl changed countries often. She was always the new kid in class, thus class became a meeting place where she discovered different cultures.

At the age of 23 in 1998, Lisa moved to India where she worked for a bridal magazine and a non-profit also concerned with the education of children in India. From the former she learned how to work with an almost non-existent budget, while the latter showed her that change in regards to school attendance would be more likely to happen if the children, rather than the donors, were directly inspired. Lisa longed to publish real stories, and thus, like THE FUTURE MAKERS, her initiative began with twelve months of travel culminating in a book, Going to School, that was released at the organisation’s launch.

Collaborating with Nitin Upadhye, an inspired photographer, Lisa collected 25 stories (one for every school that they visited) about the diverse ways that children in India go to school, which include going to school in the dark with solar-powered lanterns. The book became a positive strategy to celebrate and promote quality education and colourful activity-based learning to the children themselves. “I want children to communicate to other children and to change the educational system so that children can fulfil their dreams,” she says with words full of passion.

“Imaginations can change the world,” and India can thank Lisa’s imagination for kindling a widespread passion for learning and creation (see the facts & figures beneath). For her current venture, Be! An Entrepreneur, she gathers her own social-entrepreneurial resourcefulness to create a new generation of pioneers: “In an emerging market, education must be relevant to employment, and we can’t teach kids skills for jobs that do not exist yet. We can teach them how to identify problems, to become leaders, to use their team work skills to change the world.” On their new-and-improved website they have compiled a list of “21st century skills” (

And since social-entrepreneurs never rest on their laurels, their next initiative is a wacky Children’s News series. If plan A doesn’t work (always have a plan B) Going to School is going to the other side of the world!

About Going to School and Be! An Entrepreneur

Currently 50% of students are giving up their education in Government schools. In 2020 it is predicted that there will be over 210 million unemployed people in India. These figures are hardly inspiring. Going To School is a non-profit team-of-ten that designs creative media content (movies, books, radio) for children in India. Be! Fund, a micro-credit initiative is also available to 18+ young adults who have gone to school and wish to start a project and make a change. For more information visit, the Going to School blog, and

In 2013, Going to School is celebrating its Ten Year Anniversary. Congratulations!



Country: India

Type of Education: BA in English Literature from McGill University, Montreal

Awards: 2003 Ashoka Fellow; 2009 TED fellow; a World Economic Forum, 2010 Young Global Leader and a 2011 Changemakers Fellow.

Foundation Affiliation: Ashoka Fellow

Pathway to Impact: Pathway of Concern

Impact Area/s: Basic Material Needs – Adequate livelihood, access to goods; Social Relations – Social cohesion, mutual respect, ability to help others; Freedom of Choice and Action

Organisation Type: Non-profit

Facts & Figures: 86,000 people called Going to School after watching on of the BE! movies when it was first aired on Star Utsav TV. Each week 100,000 Grade 9 children learn entrepreneurial skills in the Government Schools of Bihar, India. They learn through design-driven stories and dynamic skills projects.


LinkedIn: Lisa-Heydlauff

Facebook: lisa.heydlauff

Other Media

To watch 10 Girls Stars short documentaries click here.

* Quoted in “Lisa Heydlauff talks about Going to School in India,”, 6 June 2012. Read article here.

About the author Helena Rosebery

After completing a Master of Communication (Food & Culture) from Slow Food’s University of Gastronomic Sciences, Italy, Helena Rosebery followed her heart to Zürich where she is inspired everyday by the resilience and greenness of her home-grown herbs. Helena employs words and coloured pencils to professionally communicate all that is – and is not – in the pursuit of a more ethical world.

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