New York, NY – On Saturday, September 14, 2019, Pratham, one of India’s largest and most successful education-focused charitable organizations, celebrated a quarter-century of transforming lives with an exhilarating gala and benefit concert that raised an impressive $4 million to help expand Pratham’s work into 10,000 communities.
Rahul Mahajan, president of the NY Tri-State Chapter, welcomed guests for cocktails and a medley of Indian street-food in the iconic atrium of 60 Wall Street before they walked across Wall Street, which had been closed specifically for the event, to the Cipriani ballroom for dinner and an intimate Sufi Music concert by the famed Indian composer and musician A. R. Rahman.
“It is so heartening to see the Tri-State community come together to support Pratham,” declared Mahajan. “Their generosity has enabled us to achieve our fundraising goal and help Pratham expand its literacy and learning programs to hundreds more communities.”
Pratham USA Chairman Deepak Raj echoed the sentiment: “We are incredibly grateful to the donors and volunteers who support our work. What Pratham has accomplished over the last quarter century is truly remarkable. We look forward to transforming many more lives in the years ahead.”
“In our 25 years, we have worked on every child in school and learning well,” reflected Pratham CEO Dr. Rukmini Banerji. “More and more children are in school and today over 95% of kids are in school.” In a keynote address detailing the next phase of Pratham, Dr. Banerji outlined the organization’s shift from helping children who have fallen behind–what she calls “catch up”–to investing in them early so they can “make the leap forward,” with a broader goal of increasing community involvement in education.
Banerji was later joined on stage by twin sisters Anjali and Anchal Purabiya, both graduates of Pratham’s Second Chance program, which assists female dropouts in attaining their secondary school certificates. In a Q&A, the girls, who are competitive athletes, elaborated on Pratham’s role in allowing them to continue their education and pursue their dreams of one day competing in the Olympics.
The milestone anniversary was commemorated with a celebratory video featuring some of the first children to attend a Pratham program in the slums of Mumbai. Today they are teachers, social workers and engineers.
The night concluded with a two-hour concert by A. R. Rahman showcasing popular Sufi film compositions, rearranged versions of the masters of Qawwali and culturally inspired collaborations. Featuring an international cast of virtuoso musicians and accompanied by an immersive light show, the hypnotic performance left the audience in a reflective mood befitting the evening’s purpose.
“Our long-time dream of performing Sufi music for human causes came true with this wonderful opportunity with Pratham, Rahman tweeted during the evening. “Thank you for being respectful and extremely generous with the cause today.”
Among the prominent attendees were Consul General of India Sandeep Chakravorty and his wife Taruna Chakravorty and Mayor of Hoboken Ravi Bhalla and his wife Navneet K. Patwalia Bhalla. Sponsors included Persistent Systems, Better.com, TCS, Dome Equities, and Plus 1 Multiline by Orbic.
Pursuing its mission of “every child in school and learning well,” Pratham promotes basic literacy as a means to establish a secure foundation for learning, both in and out of school. Pratham collaborates with governments, communities, educators, and industry to focus on innovative ways to address gaps in India’s education system. By bridging the divide between stakeholders, Pratham raises standards and increases accountability, thereby transforming the lives of children, families and entire communities.
Pratham’s vast network spans 21 Indian states and has reached more than 60 million children and youth since its inception. Pratham’s work has been recognized through major International awards, including the Asia Game Changer Award, the BBVA Frontiers of Knowledge Award, the WISE Prize for Education, the Henry R. Kravis Leadership Prize, the Skoll Award for Social Entrepreneurship, and most recently the 2018 LUI Che Woo Prize in the Positive Energy category.