Prominent business leaders, dignitaries and members of the local Indian-American community gathered in downtown Chicago for the annual Pratham Gala on September 9. Held at the elegant Winter Garden of the Harold Washington Center, the event was attended by 300 guests and raised $260,000 for Pratham’s award-winning education programs.
“A small amount will make big difference in a child’s life forever,” said Allstate Executive and Chapter President Suren Gupta. “Many people are astounded to learn that Pratham can educate a child with a mere $25 because its low-cost programs provide scalable and effective solutions for improving children’s reading and math skills in just six to eight weeks.”
It is estimated that 100 million Indian children cannot read or write.
Guest of honor Martin Radvan President, Mars Wrigley Confectionery and President, Wrigley Company Foundation shared their “sustainable in a generation” plan and was honored for the impact of the Foundation’s partnership with Pratham in educating 100,000 children in Uttar Pradesh’s mint farming villages.
In his keynote speech, Genpact Presdient and CEO N V “Tiger” Tyagarajan stressed the importance of educating girls: “It’s my firm belief that when you educate girls and women in society, the society changes. Women have this tremendous power of actually changing the sociocultural fabric of countries.” Pratham’s Second Chance program gives women who have dropped out of school an opportunity to finish their education and stand on their own feet.
A distinct multicultural flavor was reflected in the evening’s program, which included comedian Anish Shah and tantalizing food from India Garden, and in the fashion, a mix of ethic Indian and Western formal.
Gala co-chairs Alwar Narayanan and Smruti Rajagopalan delivered a memorable night with the support of the chapter Board, local volunteers and the following sponsors: Allstate Insurance Company, Ernst & Young LLP, General Electric, Genpact, Infosys, McKinsey & Company, Mondeléz International, Salesforce Inc., Vinakom Inc., United Airlines, and Mars Wrigley Confectionery.
Established in the slums of Mumbai in 1995, Pratham is now one of India’s largest non-governmental education organizations, having affected the lives of more than 50 million underprivileged children in the past two decades.