Pratham USA, one of the largest educational nonprofits in India that provides quality education to underprivileged children, hosted their annual New York Tri-State Gala at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City on September 16th. Attended by roughly 600 guests, the gala raised more than $2.6 million for Pratham’s innovative, award-winning educational programs, according to a press release.
The gala resonated deeply with the night’s keynote speaker, Nikki R. Haley, Governor of South Carolina, who engaged the crowd with her personal story about growing up as an Indian immigrant in the deep South. She also drew attention to the problem that Pratham is trying to solve: “A demoralizing statistic facing India today is that it is the world’s 10th largest economy, yet less than half of the nation’s 250 million children can read adequately,” adding, “A child who can’t read is a child who can’t learn, and a child who can’t learn is a child without hope.”
In her speech, Pratham CEO Dr. Rukmini Banerji explained why Pratham is successful: “According to The Abdul Latif Jameel Poverty Action Lab, which has assessed dozens of Pratham programs, the magnitude of difference that our 40- or 50-day learning camp makes in the life of a child is unparalleled across the world. And so I think it’s OK for us to acknowledge that eradicating illiteracy is a hard job, but that we know how to crack it.”
State Head for Uttar Pradesh Nuzhat Malik, who overcame domestic violence and found solace in educating underprivileged children in her community, received a standing ovation after a passionate speech about her 20-year journey with Pratham.
The evening commenced with a soulful performance by Indie pop artist Vasuda Sharma and ended with spirited tunes spun by DJ Suhel. Guests enjoyed tantalizing appetizers from renowned Indian bistro, Bukhara Grill as well as an inspirational menu featuring locally sourced ingredients from the Waldorf Hotel.
Gala chair Rekha Kumar was delighted with the success of the gala: “We are thrilled that we were able to raise more funds than what we had initially expected thanks to the generosity of the guests in attendance. Pratham is truly a great organization. It’s incredible to see how many lives Pratham is touching. God bless all the people involved.”
The event’s success would not have been possible without the tireless efforts of the gala committee, chaired by Rekha Kumar, Kumar Shah, Charu Sarma, and Sangeeta Sobti of Janak Events; the Pratham NY Tri-State board, staff and volunteers; and the generosity of the Pratham supporters.