Philanthropy in Indian American Community

By Inder Singh

Targeting children in grades 6 and above, AIF supports a DE school for 3 years where children learn to work with computers and use them as tools of empowerment. To date DE has covered 24,000 teachers and 750,000 children in 2077 schools across India. In 2009, at their annual gala fund raising event, AIF renamed its Service Corps Fellowship as the William J. Clinton Fellowship for Service in India, in honor of former President Bill Clinton. The Fellowship sends 25 young American professionals each year to serve with Indian non-governmental organizations (NGOs) for ten months .

Pratham focuses on education, primarily in urban slums. The organization’s “Read India” program aims to reach 60 million children in India to read, write and do basic math by the end of 2009. In 2007-2008, Pratham's programs reached over 5,500 communities across 15 states, benefiting over a million children. Pratham USA raised over $10 million through their many chapters in the US to support Pratham programs in India. Ekal Vidyalaya or the One Teacher Schools have been functioning for many years in remote areas where the tribal and other deprived section live. The Ekal Vidyalaya Foundation supports and runs such non-formal schools. The Ekal Movement is also involved in providing health care education, development education to make this section of the society self sufficient and empowerment education to let this deprived society know of their rights. Ekal chapters in the US have been providing financial support to the Ekal Movement by organizing fund-raising events in various cities. Asha for Education has seventy three chapters globally and forty five in the US. The organization has over 1500 active volunteers and has collected about $15 million as of 2008 for education of underprivileged children in India.

The Akshaya Patra Foundation claims to be the world’s largest NGO-run midday meal program, feeding over one million children each day in over 6,000 schools through 18 kitchens in seven states in India. The US arm of the Foundation has many chapters and raises substantial amount of money to support the School Meals Program in India.

Sankara Eye Foundation (SEF) USA supports Sankara Eye Care Institutions in India which offers 70,000 free eye surgeries annually at its hospitals, eye banks and eye care programs. In 2008, SEF raised about $4 million for their eye-care programs in India. The mission statement of Share & Care Foundation is to enhance the quality of lives of underprivileged woman and children by supporting programs in the fields of Primary Healthcare and Education. The Foundation raises funds in the US for a variety of projects in India. There are a number of other similar but smaller outfits which are engaged in doing an equally good work serving the people. The Indian American community is rapidly growing with many affluent individuals, influentially prominent executives and wealthy businessmen. Several of them have learned from American culture and tradition of giving to non-profits. Some prosperous Indian Americans have given millions to American institutions while many have given to causes in India. But it seems that when it comes to investing in the Indian American community, besides giving for building temples, and other religious institutions, Indian Americans have turned their backs to the needs of the Indian American community in the US. This is particularly true with the first generation of Indian immigrants who year-after-year donate to India centric causes while neglecting causes within the Indian American community.

—To be continued

Inder Singh regularly writes and speaks on Indian Diaspora. He is Chairman of Global Organization of People of Indian Origin (GOPIO). He was president of GOPIO from 2004-2009, president of National Federation of Indian American Associations (NFIA) from 1988-92 and was the founding president of Federation of Indian Associations in Southern California. He can be reached at

May 2011

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