Over 140 prominent donors and supporters, mostly Indian American, attended the Foundation for Excellence’s New York gala, which was held April 23 at The Pierre, A Taj Hotel. The evening raised $175,000.
Begun by venture capitalist Dr. Prabhu Goel and his wife Poonam Goel, the FFE endeavors to provide educational funding to exceptionally bright students in India who have serious financial constraints, enabling them to achieve professional success as engineers and doctors. Since FFE’s inception in 1994, over $30 million in scholarships have been awarded, including over $1 million raised last year in the US alone for the first time.
Verifying candidates’ financial need and pledging them, once they’ve achieved professional success, to support at least two other candidates in the program during their lifetime, is something the Foundation prides itself on.
FFE scholarship recipient Bismay Mishra of NIT, Trichy, emceed the evening, reflecting on his own family history of each generation helping the next and how that translates into providing each successive generation’s education.
The keynote speaker of the Gala was mathematician Anand Kumar, who recounted through a multi-media presentation, the poignant story of the Super 30 initiative under his Ramanujan School of Mathematics (RSM), which provides coaching to 30 economically disadvantaged students per year for the entrance exams to the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT).
“We’re not just helping people, but helping them cross psychological barriers (to success),” Kumar said. Kumar founded and has maintained the initiative through his school, despite fraudulent competition, as well as threats of physical violence and has relied on FFE for the financial support it has given his students.
“Education is the key and nurturing brilliance is the motto he follows which is so similar to FFE,” said Anand. “Poverty should not come in the way of education of talented students. It is in this light that I value the contribution of FFE immensely, but it should not confine its support to just higher or technical education. There is need to support students right from the primary or secondary stage,” he added.
Minoo Gupta, current President of Foundation For Excellence, chronicled some of the organization’s achievements since it was started, in having helped more than 17,000 students at over 450 colleges in 23 states throughout India. She also noted that 100 percent of donations go towards the scholarships and that the scholars have access to an online English language training program to improve their marketability for future employment.