In recent years, the Indian government has focused on making schools more accessible so that more Indian children can participate in India’s extraordinary economic growth. Enrollment in India’s public and private schools has increased, yet the country still struggles with improving the low quality of education. It’s estimated that 53 percent of fifth graders can’t read at a second-grade level. Meanwhile, 46 percent can’t solve a two-digit subtraction problem.

Unfortunately, the quality education challenge in India extends beyond primary and secondary schooling. Those that do get through school struggle with highly competitive college entrance examinations to top tier colleges and others fail to complete college, even at less reputable institutions, creating an imminent shortage of skilled employees.  In a workforce of more than 495 million, less than 10 percent possess employable skills despite informal and formal vocational training programs. Over the next ten years, 500 million youth will need to be skilled to support market demands.

Further to the education challenge is the lack of access to financial products and services for an estimated 280 million people. Far too many of India’s low-income families are still unbanked which limits the necessary incentives for entrepreneurship and engagement in the economy.

We are encouraged by the new and unprecedented focus placed by the Indian government on improving education quality, job-oriented skill development and catalyzing an environment for entrepreneurial growth. We know that giving people living in urban poverty a quality education, the right financial tools, skills development and employment opportunities can lead to better outcomes. We have learned that urban youth from low-income families are ambitious, and they seek a path to the middle class and not just a minimum wage job. We know that all parents, no matter what their economic status, want the best education for their children.

We started funding projects in India in 2005 so we could foster high-quality education and improve family economic stability among India’s urban poor. We want to have an immediate, measurable positive impact on the lives of individual children, while at the same time catalyzing systemic change. We employ a range of financial tools, from traditional philanthropic grants to mission-driven impact investments – using whichever strategy that we can measurably prove will help transform the most lives.

To those ends, we partner with a range of stakeholders, including governments, businesses, NGOs, implementation experts, community organizations and other philanthropies. We actively consult with all our partners, helping them to problem-solve, assess performance, course correct and plan for the future.

The way out of poverty is ultimately driven by opportunities to improve the economic condition of underprivileged families. Our goal, over the next five years, is to support the creation of more than $1 billion in annual income for urban, underserved families through aspirational jobs for youth, technology-enabled livelihood, and access to financial products.

The scope and complexity of India’s economic challenges requires attacking them from all angles. We look at the realities of the market, the challenges we face and potential solutions. That whole picture allows us to find the solutions that can work and survive and change lives. We’re partnering with like-minded organizations to bring products and services that improve the earning capacity of poor households, while at the same time develop eco-system to achieve scale and sustainability.

Every child —even those living in urban poverty— should have access to quality school education and, for those so inclined, a fair chance to attend and complete a college education. But that will take time. By 2018, we’re aiming for 80 percent of the students in programs we support to reach grade-specific competency. Improving India’s school system is complex and requires an integrated and patient effort with a sharp focus on learning outcomes, innovative solutions, clear accountability and systemic reforms to bring about sustainable improvement in education quality. Beyond school education, we are focusing on admission to premier colleges and access to test preparations for competitive, knowledge economy jobs. That’s why we’re investing in innovation by supporting leaders in both for-profit and nonprofit organizations and, in parallel, partnering with governments to drive systemic transformation that delivers quality education to the underserved.