Jains in Action (JIA) is an opportunity for Jain youth to collaborate, putting what they’ve learned in school and work together with the principles of Jainism to solve a problem in the world around us! This hands-on, interdisciplinary program brings the spirit of action to YJA Convention. Participants in JIA will get training and mentorship in valuable problem-solving skills, and mentors, judges, and Convention attendees at large will get to see the results of their hard work when semifinalists present to judges and finalists present on the main stage.

Why JIA? Our Jain communities have given so much to us - this is our chance to use our skills and creativity to give something back, and begin to build for future generations. We hope you’ll join us!

Problem Statement

Develop a creative, forward-thinking, community-based solution to a pressing problem we face in our local Jain communities.

The Process

JIA will start with a series of virtual meetings before Convention, where teams will identify a problem in our Jain communities and work together to develop and test their solution. Along the way, they’ll learn collaborative problem solving techniques that can be used in any field, to solve any kind of problem. They’ll be guided by experienced mentors who will cover human centered design, brainstorming and design thinking techniques, prototyping and presentation strategies, and more. At Convention, they’ll have the opportunity to collaborate in person and showcase their ideas to the broader convention audience! After Convention, we will connect teams with community leaders and stakeholders interested in helping bring their ideas to life.

The Participants

We are looking for Jain youth coming to YJA Convention in the College and JNF age range who are interested in creatively solving problems in the Jain community. No prior experience in social impact competitions, design or entrepreneurship is required (though it will certainly be helpful!).

The JIA Admin Team will review all applications and create teams by taking into account factors such as participants’ areas of expertise, interests, and locations. We will work to put together teams in which each individual participant brings something to the table and has something to learn from their teammates!

The Prize

All teams will make a final presentation to their fellow JIA participants at Convention. The top three teams as determined by the mentor panel will present in front of the entire Convention audience and a panel of judges and make the case for their idea! The top team will win the opportunity to bring their project to life with YJA’s support - we’ll connect you with relevant stakeholders and mentors, as well as monetary support if relevant that corresponds to a project plan developed by your team. Your project will also be featured in Jain Digest, which gets mailed to over 15,000 readers nationwide, and in Young Minds!

How to Apply

Applications for JIA is now closed.

The Mentors

We are so excited to have a group of incredibly diverse and accomplished young professionals as mentors for our JIA teams! These mentors are generously volunteering their time between now and convention to serve as facilitators and resources for JIA participants as they work on their problem solution.
Hover over their picture to learn about them!

Priyal Gandhi

Baltimore, MD

Priyal is from Ashburn, VA and has served in several roles in YJA, JAINA, and her local Jain temple. She is a strong proponent of finding ways to apply Jainism to daily life. As President of the Indian Student Association in college, Priyal created the first interfaith dialogue event and was a leader in an anti-hate speech campaign. She has also been involved in education with refugees, children in Indian slums, and middle schoolers in Baltimore. Currently, she is a medical student at the Johns Hopkins University and leading advocacy initiatives for the healthcare of incarcerated people.

Kunal Parikh

Baltimore, MD

Kunal Parikh is an inventor and entrepreneur working at the intersection of medtech and social enterprise. He is a faculty member at Johns Hopkins (JHU) where he innovates biomedical solutions for significant and unmet medical needs. Prior, he founded, led, and raised funding for several companies, including Core Quantum Technologies, the Social Innovation Lab, and Access HEARS. He earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering at JHU and a B.S. in Chemical Engineering at The Ohio State University.

Harsha Nahata

Saginaw, MI

Born and raised in metro Detroit, Harsha is a freelance journalist based out of Saginaw, MI. She spent her first few years after college living in Detroit and hopping between a variety of roles - City Year Corps member, communications analyst, design thinking consultant, and independent filmmaker - before finding her passion for reporting. In addition to all things Bollywood, Harsha is passionate about storytelling, exploring Detroit and understanding her Indian-American identity. She is a spontaneous dancer, with a copy of the Alchemist and a boxed set of The West Wing always next to her bed.

Umang Patel

San Francisco, CA

Umang is a San Francisco-based startup founder and DJ. He started his first company at age 14 and has since launched products to help people collect payments (PayTango), manage their finances (Stable), and plan events (Cloverbook). Umang has traveled to over 15 states to DJ events for his entertainment company (Masala Entertainment). The teachings of Jainism have played an important role in helping him make tough decisions and navigate the ups and downs of life as an entrepreneur and DJ.

Krupa Shah

Panama City, FL

Krupa Shah is a dual-degree graduate from the University of Florida, with a bachelor’s degree in Finance and master’s degree in International Business. During her 4 years, she actively participated in the business school through leadership and development organizations such as the Career and Academic Peer Mentor Program and the UF International Business Case Team. In her spare time, she loves binge watching Netflix, cooking, going out on spontaneous adventures, learning Salsa, and singing her heart out. She's starting at JP Morgan Chase in Atlanta in July as a Middle Markets Commercial Banking Analyst.

Akash Shah

Cleveland, OH

Akash Shah is Cleveland-based Venture for America fellow with a background in bioinformatics, product development, and human-centered design. He currently works as a Product Manager for GenomOncology: a healthcare software startup. Through studying computer science and genetics at the University of North Carolina, Akash has gained a deep appreciation for the role that technology and human-centered design can play in solving difficult problems. When he is not hacking away on his laptop, Akash spend his time watching sports, eating tacos, and listening to the entire Kanye West discography.

Expectations

JIA participants are expected to participate in a professional manner, keeping in mind Jain values at all times. We expect all participants to communicate respectfully with each other and with mentors, as well as display good sportsmanship during the competition itself. At all times while on the Convention site, JIA participants must adhere to YJA Convention rules and regulations. Participants are expected to work hard to contribute to their teams, learn a lot from the people they meet, and most importantly, contribute to the Jain community while having fun!

JIA Administrative Team

Anjali Doshi

New York, NY

Anjali is a 2nd year PhD student at Columbia University studying Biomedical Engineering. Last year, her Masters Design team was a semifinalist in the Columbia Venture Competition for a prototype medical device for neonates in low resource settings. As the previous YJA Director of Education, she worked with board members to create YJA Pathshala, an online, multimedia Jain course with over 200 people signed up. She loves mentoring, whether undergrads in her lab or fifth graders at the local elementary school, and is excited to see how this year's JIA participants creatively solve problems in their Jain communities!

Hetali Lodaya

Ann Arbor, MI

Hetali is a law student at the University of Michigan, focused on education law and advocacy. Previously, she worked at VentureLab, a nonprofit that provides entrepreneurship and technology education programs for use in K-12 classrooms. Her time with Nourish International in college showed her the potential of entrepreneurial and social justice-focused solutions to address challenges in our communities. Her time as a YJA member and leader has shown her the incredible power Jain youth have to work together for change, and she is so excited to help facilitate those connections through JIA!

Your 2018 JIA Administrative Team consists of Hetali Lodaya (MI) and Anjali Doshi (NY). Assisting them are your Daytime Programming and JNF Committees and Co-Chair, Chintav Shah (PA).

Questions, comments, concerns? Please reach out to jia.chi@yja.org and we will be happy to discuss JIA with you further!