Growing up in a working class town in the outskirts of London, I felt a deep sense of hopelessness. Surrounded by economic hardship, racial injustice, and broken systems I, like many around me, felt powerless. I resigned my pursuit for meaning.
All this changed when I met a person by the name of Michael. As a teenager, I took one of the few jobs available in our town, a data entry clerk, and Michael was my boss. He was a deep, creative thinker, realistic about the world and optimistic about people. He shared ideas, books, and art with me, encouraging me to think beyond my own experience to see the value, power, and gifts around me. It was life changing, and I remain eternally grateful for the gifts he gave me – being seen and heard by someone and in turn believing in and valuing myself.
Believing in people is foundational for us at The Pollination Project. We believe everyone is extraordinary and equipped to build a world of greater compassion, goodness and kindness, in their own unique way.
By aiming to build meaningful relationships with grassroots changemakers, we hope to provide belief and financial capital, allowing them to have increased direct impact on the issues in their own communities. Through our focus on individuals working at the grassroots level, we gain the chance to uplift the voices of diverse and often marginalized leaders whose initiatives are commonly overlooked by larger institutional funders, thus adding to the breadth of the range of solutions available and increasing local ownership of the work.
Just like any responsible funder, we measure the impact of our grantmaking through conventional metrics – number of people served, how the funding was spent, results on the community, etc. However, we are also deeply interested in non-conventional metrics, things that are often overlooked by conventional funders – do people feel believed in, valued, empowered, and supported? How has our support helped them in their own journeys toward inner transformation?
Throughout history we have heard of seemingly ordinary people who do extraordinary things. Something we often miss is that extraordinary people end up doing very ordinary things when they don’t feel supported and that they are too small to make a difference. At TPP, we believe that everyone is extraordinary and equipped in their own unique way to build a world that holds more compassion, goodness, and kindness. Our method is centered in recognizing that potential and helping to unleash that in everyone we encounter.
We acknowledge and accept the power of money in our world, and that’s why we make small grants. However, for us, empowerment is equally as valuable as currency, and that’s why our grants go beyond financial investment in a project, and we strive to invest our faith and confidence in the power of people.
Power to the people!
Ajay was born in Surrey, England, to a working-class immigrant family and became ordained as a monastic in his late teens. As a monk for eight years, Ajay had the honor of serving diverse teams across the globe. After transitioning out of monastic life, he would go on to hold executive leadership positions in a variety of mission-driven organizations.
As Executive Director of TPP, Ajay relishes solving puzzles involving the relationship between human growth and a compassionate society. He thrives in helping individuals to recognize their true selves as part of a whole and in applying transcendent principles to organizational and strategic contexts.