Location: Hilton Americas
On Saturday, April 20, 2019, more than 900 guests attended the dazzling Pratham Houston ‘Sold Out’ gala – celebrating 20 years of Pratham USA and raising a record-breaking $4.5 million – the largest amount by an Indian-American charity.
Pratham is dedicated to improving 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 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.”
The event, hosted by mistress of ceremonies Nicole O’Brian Lassiter, featured inspirational speeches including a sincere address by local businessman Ali Dhanani who contributed $1 million last year to Pratham. Program beneficiary Mamta Dawar’s heartfelt message encouraged the audience to support Pratham so girls like her can find their voice and strength. The magical night wrapped up with lively entertainment from the dance group Rhythm India and a fashion show by leading Indian designer Anita Dongre presented by Raaz. A sumptuous plated dinner provided by Daawat catering was appreciated by all the guests.
The gala co-chairs were Peggy and Avinash Ahuja, Indrani and Hemant Goradia, and Shital and Bhavesh Patel. 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. Corporate sponsors who have been supporting Pratham’s transformative work for over a decade included Wells Fargo, Ascend Performance Materials, Packwell, Amegy Bank of Texas, Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, Fidelity Family Office Services, and PKF of Texas, all of which have been supporting Pratham’s transformative work for a decade.
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 58 million underprivileged children in the past two decades. To achieve its mission of “every child in school and learning well,” Pratham develops practical solutions to address gaps in the education system and works in collaboration with India’s governments, communities, educators, and industry to increase learning outcomes and influence education policy.
Pratham USA is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a consistent four-star rating from Charity Navigator that seeks to raise awareness and mobilize financial resources for our work in India