More than 900 guests attended the Pratham Houston gala, celebrating its 20th anniversary in the US and raising a record $4.5 million in donations.
Pratham aims to improve the quality of education for underserved children and youth in India and has reached over 60 million individuals since its inception.
The elegant Hilton America’s ballroom played host to an insightful and engaging evening kicked off by a touching video tribute to gala honoree Vijay Goradia – local businessman and humanitarian, who established Pratham USA in 1999 after visiting a small preschool in the slums of Mumbai. One of the highlights of the night was a lively conversation between Goradia and Pratham co-founder and president Dr Madhav Chavan, former University of Houston professor.
“Like I would bet on an established company over a startup, by investing in an NGO like Pratham, I am investing in the future of tens of millions of children,” explained Goradia, who pledged $1 million at the benefit. “It has a proven track record, continues to be well managed and grow.”
Local luminaries and gala underwriters Bimla and Swatantra Jain, who were also recognized for their longstanding commitment to education, made a commitment of $1 million to support the construction of a vocational training center in North India.
“This is our city’s 20th annual gala, and every year we see an increase in participation and enthusiasm for Pratham’s innovative programs,” said chapter president Asha Dhume. “Many people are astounded when they learn that of the 26 million Indian children who enter first grade each year, nearly half will reach fifth grade unable to read or write. Pratham is working to solve this learning crisis.”
Celebrity guest actor Anil Kapoor was visibly moved by the tremendous show of support: “It’s a privilege, it’s an honor, it’s an emotional moment for me to be here listening, observing, absorbing emotionally the kind of work Pratham has done for 20 years!” exclaimed the Bollywood superstar. “I’m feeling really very small compared to all of you and all the people who have done so much for such a noble cause and for such a great organization. It proves that Pratham is one of the world’s best organizations.”
Prominent attendees included Consul General Dr Anupam Ray, Illinois Congressman Raja Krishnamoorthi, Andrea and Bill White, Anne and Albert Chao as well as many other community leaders and philanthropists, according to a media release.