Magic Bus India Foundation: On the Road to a Sustainable Future

Magic Bus India Foundation
Magic Bus India Foundation

14-year old Mishba comes from Deshanur village in Belgaum district. Her father works as a truck driver and her mother is a homemaker. Her family is conservative and education is not considered important. “We girls are married off by 15-16 years of age,” she reveals.

With hopes of completing her education so she could make something of herself, Mishba left her small village. She moved to Gokak, Karnataka where she now lives with her uncle who owns a small roadside footwear shop and her aunt who has only studied till elementary school.

Magic Bus reached out to her and encouraged her to join the programme. She shares, “I used to be reserved and shy earlier. I was not able to interact or even speak to the boys in my class.

Joining the Magic Bus programme changed me. Today I’m not afraid to participate and share my opinion. I learned that I have a Right to Education. We also learned about teamwork and gender equality in the life skills sessions. Now I able to interact with others confidently and all the girls and boys in my class play together.

I dream of joining the Indian Army and serving our nation someday even though the thought is considered outrageous in my family! I will share my dream with them once I finish my schooling.”

Similarly, Nisha Rawat who hailed from a small village in Ajmer had to fight off many obstacles just to be able to complete her education. Growing up, she was faced with multiple responsibilities well beyond her age. “Ever since my father passed away, my mother had to manage the household finances. She works as a daily wage labourer,” she shares.

After completing her 10th standard, she had to drop out of school as her family’s financial condition was grim. “I decided to stay at home and look after my two siblings,” she says.  

The Magic Bus programme team intervened and changed the prospects for Nisha. The team urged her to enroll in the Magic Bus programme so she could take charge of her life. They also counselled and convinced her mother to allow Nisha to study. By participating in the life skills sessions, Nisha built her resilience and self-efficacy skills, which empowered her to make informed decisions about her future.

Now in the 11th standard, Nisha has plans of her own, “I want to finish my college education and become an IAS officer. I want to be able to help my mother and make my dream come true!

These are just two stories of young girls striving to change their futures and achieve their dreams. There are millions of young people from underserved communities who are facing similar challenges in their life and that’s where Magic Bus enters the picture.

Helmed by Passionate & Driven Leaders

Magic Bus India Foundation was founded by entrepreneur and humanitarian Matthew Spacie in 1999. He spent several afternoons playing rugby with young boys from an underserved community in Mumbai and over the course of these interactions, he encouraged them to go back to school and take up vocational courses. He also helped them find employment.

However, he soon noticed that the boys were unable to retain their jobs due to a lack of basic life and employability skills. He recognized that the issue was deeply entrenched in young people across the country and to solve a problem of this magnitude, he required a scalable solution. That’s when he was struck with a unique idea of using sports for the development of young people and Magic Bus was born.

Through activity-based skilling sessions Magic Bus imparts essential life and employability skills to young people from underserved communities. The organization equips vulnerable young people with the knowledge they need to thrive in their transition to adulthood and break the cycle of poverty.

Global CEO, Jayant Rastogi joined Magic Bus in 2016. Driven by his strong learnings from the corporate world, Jayant’s leadership has transformed the organization, making it one of the ‘Top 5 NGOs in India’ and one of India’s largest direct implementation NGOs. Jayant realised the need to bring reliability, integrity and rigor in programme implementation, along with the need to deepen impact and build evidence at the pan-India level. He also understands the need and opportunity to leverage technology to build capacities and build a strong foundation for exponential scale.

With the support of its large number of corporate, institutional, and foundation partners, Magic Bus has been able to create strong programme delivery models. The organization has been working in partnership with several government bodies and organizations to address key challenges in India’s education and bring about systemic change.

Our Childhood to Livelihood programme impacts young people in the age group of 12 to 24 years. We equip them with the life skills and knowledge they need to thrive in their journey from Childhood to Livelihood,” states Jayant.

By working with not only adolescents but also the multiple stakeholders from their families, school, and community, the organisation ensures they have the support required to complete their education. Jayant adds, “To help adolescents thrive in their journey to adulthood, we focus on teaching life skills, enhancing education, and imparting employability skills for their holistic development.”

Through its Livelihood programme, the organisation enables youth to secure sustainable jobs by imparting life skills and employability skills. After training is completed, youth are linked to employment opportunities in sectors such as Retail, ITeS, Hospitality, and BFSI among others. To ensure youth are able to retain their jobs and withstand any challenges, they are also provided with post-placement support and mentoring.

Magic Bus’ Outreach

Over the past 20+ years the organisation has spread its reach across 22 states and 2 UTs and impacted more than one million young people through its programmes.

Adolescent Programme

Livelihood Programme

4,00,000 Adolescents

93,043 Youth

213 Community Learning Centres

81 Livelihood Centres

1363 Schools | 22 States and 2 UTs

450 Colleges | 67 Cities


Impact: Magic Bus


  • School regularity of adolescents increased from 52% to 98%.

  • 76% of our adolescents’ complete secondary education and go on to higher secondary, versus the national average of 69%.

  • 26% improvement in perceived self-efficacy and 17.5% increased resilience.

  • School regularity of adolescents increased from 52% to 98%.


  • Over 1.21 lakh youth till date have been placed in sustainable employment.

  • 57% of the Livelihood programme participants are young girls.

  • 70% of youth are placed in stable jobs with average salaries of Rs 12,000 to 13,000.

Strengthening Partnerships with Government

The inclusion of life skills in the new National Education Policy (2020), provided a boost to life skills education. To quickly reach out to more adolescents in need of support, they looked to accelerate the expansion of their life skills education programme through strategic partnerships.

Teacher Training workshops–equipping government school teachers to deliver the life skills programme to students–were conducted. The organization initiated the training partnership with the state District Institute of Education & Training (DIET). The life skills assessment tool created with Life Skills Collaborative, and the School Completion and Livelihood Enablement (SCALE) programme model have also been included in the Annual Work Plan of Mizoram State.

In Maharashtra, Magic Bus has partnered with the district education departments of Bhandara and Chandrapur to impact communities at scale. This is achieved by strategically saturating complete blocks in these districts.

The SCALE programme was also recently recognized by HundrED as one of the top 100 education innovations out of 3000+ global organizations. Now, they are equipping teachers to deliver life skills sessions both inside and outside the classroom.

Building Sustainable and Scalable Livelihoods

Brought up in a nine-member household in Delhi, Gulfsha and her family had struggled to make ends meet. Her father who works in a scrap shop earns a mere ₹5000 per month. Gulfsha hails from a Muslim minority community, where many young girls are not allowed to pursue higher education or work. “I was forced to stop my education after class 12 but I was determined to pursue studies and become independent. It took me a year to persuade my father and then I was allowed to study again.” Despite being shamed by relatives and her community for attending a co-ed college, Gulfsha didn’t stop and she earned a Diploma in Architecture Assistantship with a scholarship in May 2020.

“When I joined the Magic Bus ‘Get Into’ programme I didn’t know how to navigate the digital world. After joining the programme I learned skills like communication, resilience, problem-solving, decision-making, preparing for a job interview, writing a CV, and making presentations. I was able to secure a job in Advance Estimating as an Estimator with a monthly salary of ₹22,500.” That’s four times the family’s monthly income!

“At Magic Bus we believe that young people should have the opportunity to not only break out of poverty but also move up in life. To secure rewarding and sustainable employment, youth must be equipped with 21st-century life skills, employability skills, and relevant job skills. Our recently launched AWS Cloud Skilling programme and Accounting ERP – Tally Skilling programme trains youth to secure and retain employment in future-forward jobs,” says Jayant.

Innovation and Technology at the Forefront

Magic Bus is a tech-driven organization with innovation deeply ingrained in its DNA. Jayant says, “We believe taking calculative risks can aid in delivering better performance.”

They aim to use technology to automate donor reporting and programme updates and build stronger financial processes.

Innovation During the Pandemic

During the COVID-19 pandemic it was a challenge to run programmes on the ground. “This urged us to modify our programmes so we could continue lending support to young people in need. Besides integrating digital learning in our adolescent programmes through tabs and interactive LCDs, we were also the first NGO in India to take our livelihood programme online.”

Transparency at the Core of Processes

Through a meticulous system of monitoring and tracking enabled by technology, they ensure transparency lies at the heart of all their partnerships. Transparency in their processes is essential to ensure that they are effectively reaching out to young people and conducting programmes on the ground with the utmost integrity. Using technology and data analytics, real-time data is now easily accessible, leading to faster decision-making, greater credibility, and accountability to donors. This has improved both their programme quality and productivity. Magic Bus is one of the few non-profit organizations to have implemented a robust programme tracking and monitoring system and Internal Finance Controls.

Credibility That Speaks for Itself

They were recently selected by the National Skill Development Corporation as an implementation partner and one of the first NGOs in India’s first-ever Skill Impact Bond. Under the programme, they are providing livelihood skilling to approximately 15,000 youth, of which 80% are women. The programme is addressing key challenges in India, viz. skilling India’s huge youth population, connecting them to sustainable jobs, and improving the participation rate of women.

Magic Bus has been the recipient of several prestigious awards and recognitions. It received the ASSOCHAM Awards for Best Not-for-Profit Organization and best Implementation Partnership of Corporate Foundation and NGO for COVID-19 Response in 2022. Lauding their effective use of football as a means of change, they recently received an award at the Global Soccer Conclave. They also received the ‘Excellent NGO of the Year’ Award from the CMAI Association of India (2019), the Laureus Sport for Good Award, and the Rashtriya Khel Ratna Award from the former president, Pranab Mukharjee.

Magic Bus’ Roadmap to Scale

To scale our programmes and impact more young people across India, we have laid out a clear-cut five-year roadmap. By 2026 we will empower 16 lakh adolescents and skill and place five lakh youth,” reveals Jayant.

Right from mobilization, to the delivery of the programme, employment, continuous learning, alumni, and employer connect, they are working to connect all components to one particular platform. They are rightsizing the organization and building capacities in all the backend functions. And in their front-end functions, they are trying to devise a modular programme which will enable them to rapidly and efficiently launch programmes in new geographies.

This is how we will reach out to millions of young people and move the needle on our five target outcomes areas, namely empowerment, academic success, employability, job attainment and workplace success,” says Jayant.

Fortifying Partnerships

The scope of their partnerships extends beyond that of a typical funder and NGO collaboration and also encapsulates components like employee volunteering, expert-led guest sessions for their beneficiaries, and more. In this way, employees can interact with their beneficiaries and play a stronger role in contributing to their local communities.

Some of the long-standing partners are Nestle, Barclays, BMW, WPP Foundation, Accenture, Mondelez, Azim Premji Philanthropic Initiatives, Echidna Giving, Michael Susan Dell Foundation, DASRA,, Wimbledon Foundation and Give India among many others.

Powered by Purpose-Driven People

One of their biggest strengths is their 2500+ strong team of purpose-driven individuals who strive to fulfil the organization’s mission and vision. As an organization that is scaling up massively, multiple challenges could arise.

Their team is comprised of individuals who bring in expertise from a cross-section of industries – both corporate and the development sector. This enables them to approach work with a unique perspective. At the senior executive level, 50% are female leaders. 44% of their staff are women. He states, “In fact, we take special efforts to onboard women employees and have achieved this in one of our biggest regions where the diversity ratio stands at 50%.”

“You need to have the capacity to be able to deliver the same kind of programme efficiently. You need to have talented and trained people who can carry out the delivery of these programmes. So we are trying to build robust programme implementation capabilities supported by process automation for scale and depth of impact,” says Jayant.

Attesting their work culture, Magic was recently certified as a Great Place to Work for the second year in a row and recognized as one of India’s Top 10 NGOs to work for by the Great Place to Work Institute.

A Humane Wisdom

Jayant says, “I think the developmental sector has a never-ending need because there are very few players and limited talent in this sector. I think it’s a great space for committed young people who are creative, smart, and ready to solve generation-old problems by applying their minds, using technology, and bringing in new innovative solutions.

We at Magic Bus foster an environment where we encourage people to be creative, to be able to take risks and to innovate. And we have seen some great stuff both in short term and long term with some things we did. Overall, I think this is a great space. There are lots of opportunities for the right people who have their hearts in the right place and we need more and more of such entrepreneurs. Just get into it. There’s a lot of scope for someone willing to bring change and technology will play a huge role here.”

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