The Francis and Dionne Najafi Thunderbird ASU Global Initiative will offer online Certificates in Global Management and Entrepreneurship consisting of five courses at no cost to learners in 40 languages worldwide
Thunderbird to open the Center of Excellence in Mumbai
The Thunderbird School of Global Management (Thunderbird) at Arizona State University, home of the world’s No. 1 ranked Master’s in Management and ranked No.1 for innovation in the U.S., rolled out in Mumbai today its transformative new global initiative to educate and empower 100 million learners by 2030. Launched in Phoenix on January 20, 2022, the Global Initiative will be rolled out across continents beginning with today’s event in Mumbai. The announcement coincides with the opening of Thunderbird’s Center of Excellence in Mumbai, part of a global network of offices expanding the school’s engagement and impact worldwide.
Thanks to a historic USD 25 million donation from the Francis and Dionne Najafi Global Initiative, Thunderbird will offer an online Global Management and Entrepreneurship Certificate, consisting of five world-class courses in 40 different languages. The certificate will be covered by full scholarships and thus will be made available at no cost to learners due to the philanthropic support undergirding the initiative.
The Francis and Dionne Najafi Global Initiative has been made possible through a generous initial gift of USD 25 million from prominent Phoenix businessman and Thunderbird alumni F. Francis Najafi ’77 and his wife Dionne Najafi ’06. “Our lives were transformed by access to quality education at Thunderbird and we wanted to extend that same transformative experience to people around the world who lack access to quality education,” said the Najafis. “We are excited and deeply humbled to be part of such a bold initiative.”
“My ancestors come from Porbandar, the home of Gandhi. My grandfather only completed 6th standard but went on to be a successful entrepreneur. My grandmother didn’t get to go to school at all. My father came to India for technical school, but my mother never got to college. I was blessed because of their sacrifices with a world-class education that transformed my life including allowing me to do graduate research in 22 states across India. I want millions in India to have access to that world-class education, at no cost, in multiple Indian languages to transform their lives,” said Thunderbird Director General and Dean, Dr. Sanjeev Khagram. “In order to reach scale, we are building long-term collaborations with great partners committed to educational access in India, such as Leap Scholar, Samta Foundation, OrangeSlates, KK Modi University, among many others and especially with our amazing Thunderbird alumni across India,” added Dean Khagram.
Vaibhav Singh, Co-founder of Leap Scholar shared, “Leap Scholar is committed to enabling and empowering students by democratizing access to global education and careers. We are ready to partner with Thunderbird School of Global Management, ASU, which is ranked #1 for Global Management, in implementing the 100 Million Learners initiative in India which will further boost the vision of bringing the best global opportunities to aspiring students.”
Learners in the Francis and Dionne Najafi Global Initiative will receive a badge for each course they complete and a Thunderbird executive education certificate upon successful completion of all five courses. They will gain 21st century skill sets to catapult their professional careers. Learners will also have an almost limitless number of lifelong learning options and alternative educational pathways through Thunderbird and ASU, and may even apply for an accredited 15-unit certificate from ASU Thunderbird upon completion.
“Access to higher education and the need for equity and inclusion is one of a global scale. One of the reasons Arizona State University is so pleased to have Thunderbird as part of our enterprise is because it is a school that has been focused on sustained prosperity worldwide for decades,” said ASU President Michael Crow. “The commitment made to the school by Francis and Dionne Najafi will impact communities around the world and be a force that brings all of us closer together. We are grateful for their commitment to a borderless expansion of the opportunities that come with higher education.”
Educating 100 million learners by 2030 will require a strategic, phased approach. In year one, the Global Initiative aims to reach learners in India, Colombia, Iran, Kenya, Mexico, Indonesia, Egypt, Senegal, Brazil, and Vietnam in ten languages. By year two, the program will be expanded across Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America to at least 25 languages. By year four or earlier, the Global Initiative will have expanded to Europe and Central Asia and 40 total languages – thus available for learners worldwide. Eventually, the initiative will be available for all learners around the world, reaching our goal of 100 million learners.
“We are ready to partner with the Thunderbird School of Global Management in order to reach and empower millions of individuals across India with the transformative Najafi 100 Million Learners Global Initiative. This is an initiative much needed in India and it will help drive entrepreneurship and innovation across our society. Thunderbird changed my life when I was a student there – making its courses accessible to all will be transformative,” said Chancellor Charu Modi of KK Modi University.
Richa Agrawal, Managing Trustee, Samta Foundation shared, “Samta Foundation is ready to partner with Thunderbird School of Global Management, to ensure that the tribal and rural areas, along with institutions of Maharashtra benefit from the 100 Million Learners initiative.” Meanwhile Sindu Evan, COO, OrangeSlates commented, “The initiative is a great opportunity for OrangeSlates to bring futuristic courses from the best universities to educators globally.”
The United Nations estimates that the COVID-19 pandemic has erased 20 years’ worth of educational gains and digital online education has accelerated and expanded dramatically to fill the gap. In addition, the uncertainty and disruption that has come to characterize this era of rapid technological change have displaced many workers and professionals all over the world, increasing the need for upskilling and reskilling in order to seize the immense opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The Francis and Dionne Najafi Global Initiative will provide millions of people with the global management and entrepreneurship skill sets that are not only imperative to accelerate personal success and economic prosperity but also to address the persistent poverty and increase inequality worldwide. Interested individuals can request additional information and pre-register at: thunderbird.asu.edu.
About F. Francis and Dionne Najafi
F. Francis Najafi is the American Dream come to life. He came to America from Iran to get an education and earned four degrees from three universities. In 1982 he founded Pivotal Group, a real estate opportunity fund with uncanny market timing and wisdom. Later he broadened Pivotal Group’s mandate by successfully investing in private equity and growth venture opportunities. As his success grew, so did his philanthropy: Mr. Najafi has given millions of his own money to an incredibly wide range of causes, headlined by his recent USD 25 million donations to Arizona State University.
About Thunderbird School of Global Management
Thunderbird School of Global Management is a unit of the Arizona State University Enterprise. For more than 75 years, Thunderbird has been the vanguard of global management and leadership education, creating inclusive and sustainable prosperity worldwide by educating global leaders capable of tackling the world’s greatest challenges. Thunderbird’s Master of Global Management was ranked No. 1 in the world for 2019 by the Wall Street Journal/Times Higher Education.
To learn more visit thunderbird.asu.edu.
About Arizona State University
Arizona State University, ranked No. 1 “Most Innovative” university in the United States by U.S. News & World Report, has developed a new model for the American Research University, creating an institution that is committed to access, excellence and impact. ASU measures itself by those it includes, not by those it excludes. As the prototype for a New American University, ASU pursues research that contributes to the public good, and ASU assumes responsibility for the economic, social and cultural health of the communities it serves.
To learn more, please visit ASU.edu.
About Leap Scholar
Founded in 2019, Leap Scholar is South Asia’s largest overseas study abroad platform with products & services in overseas education. Leap Scholar has pioneered the ‘platform way’ of end-to-end services for students pursuing international education and careers and has a thriving community of 1 million+ students. The company is headquartered in San Francisco, California with offices in Bengaluru and Mumbai, India. Being one of the fastest growing startups in overseas education, the company has raised over USD 75 MN in venture capital from marquee investors including Sequoia Capital India, Owl Ventures, Jungle Ventures and Harvard Management Company among others. The company is co-founded by IIT Kharagpur alumni, Vaibhav Singh and Arnav Kumar.