Pratham annual gala in Phoenix raises funds to help end child illiteracy in India

The Pratham gala attracted more than 250 people to the Arizona Biltmore Hotel designed by Albert Chase McArthur. The signature event of Phoenix’s Indian American social calendar raised over $300,000 for Pratham’s mission to have “every child in school and learning well.”
The black-tie affair featured a cocktail reception, live auction, dinner, dancing, and several inspiring speeches.

In her opening remarks, chapter president Dr Sheena Banerjee reminded guests of Pratham’s impact – “50 million kids educated in 23 years” – and its role in the effort to end childhood illiteracy: “We are grateful to all of you who are supporting and partnering with us to make this year’s gala such a success.”

Local entrepreneur Ganesh Moorthy, president and COO of Microchip Technology, impressed on the audience the importance of giving back. Invoking his mother, he recalled that she always told him, “When we share our happiness and success with someone, it doubles our happiness and success, and when we share our pain and angst with someone, it cuts our pain and angst in half.”

A speech by vocational training program graduate Ganpat Luche, in which he recounted how Pratham changed the trajectory of his life, left guests visibly moved. At the age of 23, he earned 1300 rupees—the equivalent of $35—a month doing odd jobs. After completing a course in hospitality with Pratham, Ganpat, now 29, takes home $800 a month as a waiter in Dubai and is saving to buy a piece of land in his hometown, where he plans to start his own restaurant.“It was an evening that I will remember!” said Dr Hitpreet Sanghera. “Having emigrated to the US for a better life myself, Ganpat’s words really resonated with me. It is terrific that Pratham is giving so many young people a chance to stand on their own two feet.”

On the lighter side, a rousing pledge drive led by Dr Hemant Pandey and Mark Turner received 100 percent participation, and “Scarlet Poem,” a painting by local artist Laxmi Nair, led to an exuberant bidding war during the live action, finally selling for $2,500. LA-born comedian Rajiv Satyal’s brand of clean comedy was also a hit with the multi-generational crowd.

“Pratham’s focus on innovative solutions to address gaps in education outcomes for underserved children aligns with our desire to address the social determinants of health—including literacy—to address similar gaps in the healthcare system. We’re excited to partner with an organization that’s as committed to creating broader change and amplifying community impact as we are,” said Hugh Lytle, founder and CEO of Equality Health.

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