Anisha Srivastava

Anisha Srivastava, business and Plan II sophomore, launched her own philanthopy-based fashion website, Clothes for Causes, which seeks to empower customers to effect change.

Photo Credit: Chris Foxx | Daily Texan Staff

Flowing maxi dresses, screen-printed shirts and delicate jewelry fill the pages of Clothing for Causes’ online catalog. The organization’s trendy website represents a purpose that goes beyond style. Through fashion, Clothes for Causes aims to create a positive impact on the world.

Anisha Srivastava, business and Plan II sophomore, founded Clothes for Causes out of a desire to effect change through her interests in business and fashion.

Before moving to Texas, Srivastava lived in Thailand for five years and developed her interest in philanthropy work through her experiences in Thailand and summers spent in India.

“I enjoy working creatively with designers, photographers and models,” Srivastava said. “I love applying what I learn in class to projects, and it is very exciting actually applying concepts and creating a business.

Clothes for Causes’ mission is to empower the younger generation to act on its passion for philanthropy. A quarter of proceeds from clothing sales are donated to support nonprofit organizations conducting a broad range of philanthropic work.

Srivastava asked Plan II sophomore Caroline Read to model clothing for Clothes for Causes’ catalog.

“I was so excited because I really believe in what she’s doing,” Read said. “I really believe in Anisha’s goal to raise money for disease education and
other charities.”

Srivastava plans to release multiple fashion collections, each inspired by different philanthropic causes.

“The designs, colors and cuts of the clothes embody the message and spirit of the cause,” Srivastava said.

Clothes for Causes recently released its first collection, called Cause Collection: Fight Against HIV/AIDS. Proceeds from this collection go to the Right Now Foundation, a U.K.-based organization that supports HIV-positive children across India.

Business honors sophomore Jenny Lai took the photos featured on the Clothes for Causes website. Lai said the photos are meant to capture fashionable clothes in a philanthropic light.

“We wanted to create a brand that would appeal to socially conscious college students,” Lai said.

Srivastava cites businesses such as TOMS as an inspiration for Clothes for Causes’ business model.

“This love of products paired with causes will help us support initiatives on a scale not always achievable through fundraising,” Srivastava said. “Our products tell the story of the cause and, through that, provide an opportunity for customers to advocate for the cause.”

Anisha Srivastava, Plan II Honors and business honors freshman, is the founder of Project Activate, a program focused on mentoring low-income high school students and guiding them through college applications. The program has been implemented at two schools, one including Reagan High School which have 90 percent of their students below the poverty line.

Photo Credit: Sarah Montgomery | Daily Texan Staff

During an after-school study session at John H. Reagan Early College High School, students struggled to finish their geography homework because the school wouldn’t allow them to take textbooks home. One student, a senior named Ivan, worked on an Austin Community College application with the help of two UT student mentors, who are members of the student-run group Project Activate. Ivan said he wants to go to art school one day, but he is undocumented. He is looking to his mentors to help him apply to college and for financial aid.

Anisha Srivastava, Plan II Honors and business honors freshman and Project Activate founder, launched the program on March 19. Its goal is to enlist college students to mentor low-income high school students at least once a week.

“I thought about how going through college apps was so overwhelming,” Srivastava said. “I started thinking, ‘What are students who are first-generation and low-income, who can’t afford the resources, whose school doesn’t offer the resources — how are they even applying to college?’” 

According to the Institute of Education Sciences, the dropout rate for high school students in the lowest income bracket was more than 12 percent in 2011. Reagan High School, one of the two schools Project Activate works with, has a student population that is 90 percent below the poverty line, according to Srivastava. The program currently provides mentorship to a range of students who are low-income, first-generation and in some cases, undocumented.

Srivastava realized that the path toward college begins early, so she expanded the program to mentor students starting in their freshman year.

“We can help them a lot when they are juniors and seniors, but if they haven’t worked since freshman year to get the grades and to get involved, then it won’t really matter,” Srivastava said.

The program assigns each high school freshman a college freshman mentor. Srivastava said the objective is that both mentor and mentee graduate at the same time.

“I think what’s going to be unique about this is that, rather than one person evaluating the progress of a whole class, it will be just me and my mentee for all four years,” Srivastava said. “I will be able to really explain in detail what she’s improved on.” 

Plan II Honors freshman Missy Glasenapp is a mentor with Project Activate. Glasenapp said she was drawn to the idea of a student-run organization helping younger students. 

“I had done something like this in high school, and it wasn’t very successful, and I was a little bit disappointed in that,” Glasenapp said. “I really wanted something like this to work out.”

Srivastava said she wants the mentors to be a source of stability and reliability in the students’ lives, as well as to help them academically. 

Project Activate currently meets four days a week with different sets of students at Reagan and Lyndon B. Johnson Early College high schools. The group has partnered with other academic initiatives, such as AVID and early college high school programs, which also target low-income high school students. Project Activate currently helps around 25 students, but it plans to mentor around 200 by next year. 

Esmeralda Macedo de Paz, a freshman at Reagan High School, joined Project Activate this school year. 

“I wanted to get help,” Macedo de Paz said. “You can also really increase your communication skills with this.” 

Srivastava hopes to implement Project Activate in more high schools around Austin and possibly expand it to other cities in Texas. Mentors such as Glasenapp have committed to helping these students for four years.

“I think we could do a lot of good,” Glasenapp said.