Shaheen was born in Mumbai, grew up in five countries around the world and at the age of eighteen, returned to Mumbai to do something about the unequal opportunities that children have in India.
Shaheen founded the first Akanksha (“aspiration” in Sanskrit) centre in 1989 with 15 children. The Akanksha Foundation today runs 21 Akanksha Schools across Mumbai and Pune and impacts 10,000 children across Mumbai and Pune.
In 2008, searching for a way to impact more children and inspired by the Teach For America model, Shaheen founded Teach For India with the audacious vision of providing an excellent education to all children across India by building a movement of leaders committed to ending educational inequity in India. Today, Teach For India impacts 32,000 children through the direct work of over 900 Fellows and 250 staff members across eight cities and has produced over 9100 student alumni. Additionally, the Teach For India Alumni community is 3400+ members strong, impacting 1 million children directly and reaching 33 million children indirectly.
Shaheen is an advocate for student voice and partnership, and has created high-impact initiatives like the Maya Musical, the Kids Education Revolution, and The Greatest Show on Earth which explore student leadership.
Knowing the power of teachers as leaders, Shaheen conceptualized Firki, a Teacher Training Portal which is a highly curated, one-stop platform for teachers to learn and grow together. Firki currently reaches 150,000 users. And driven by the need to reach the last child in India, Shaheen started TFIx, which is an incubator for passionate education entrepreneurs who are willing to adapt Teach For India’s model to their context and region in rural areas.
TFIx entrepreneurs currently reach over 62,000 children across India. Shaheen serves on the boards of The Akanksha Foundation and the Advisory Board of Museum of Solutions. She is an Ashoka Fellow, a Global Leader for Tomorrow at the World Economic Forum, and an Asia Society 21 Leader. She has been a recipient of accolades such as the Jamnalal Bajaj Award for Development and Welfare of Women and Children in 2019 and the Beyond Business – ETPrime Women Leadership Award for 2020, to name a few. She is the author of the book, Redrawing India and the Miss Muglee children’s books. She has a Bachelor’s Degree from St. Xavier’s College, Mumbai and a Master’s Degree in Education from the University of Manchester.
Shaheen’s work for children over three decades has mobilized thousands of people to work together for systemic change in education. She has built the largest network of education change-makers in the country.