Foundation for Excellence Gala Raises Record $425,000
PALO ALTO, Calif., United States
Sold out within the first two weeks of its announcement, the annual fundraising gala for the Foundation for Excellence attracted a crowd Oct. 6 of more than 300 of the top entrepreneurs and business minds in the Bay Area to the Albert and Janet Schultz Cultural Arts Hall at the JCC here.
In past years, the FFE has raised approximately $150,000 at the annual event. However, with the growing tuition and the Indian economy’s increasing demands of the students, the FFE board decided to open the event up to a much larger assembly and seek much higher levels of funding.
The decision surpassed all expectations when the Oct. 6 event broke all of its historical fundraising records by raising $425,000 in one night
The FFE is a non-profit scholarship program founded in 1994 by Dr. Prabhu Goel and his wife Poonam. Its mission is to help exceptionally talented but underprivileged students in India to follow career paths to becoming doctors, engineers, and computer scientists.
To date, the FFE has provided 30,000 annual scholarships in engineering and medicine to almost 12,000 students and has helped transform families and communities across 25 states in India.
As the evening began, the banquet hall rang with laughter as Jeff Applebaum’s standup comedy routine kicked off the FFE fundraising event. Then Venktesh Shukla, the president of FFE, explained that all FFE scholarship recipients sign a pledge to support two scholars when they are in a position to do so.
The Indian American entrepreneur further noted that 670 FFE alumni are already seriously involved in the donation process and in this year alone the alumni themselves have supported over 100 new FFE students.
After 17 years of being at the helm of FFE, Shukla was honored by the organization for not only building the FFE organization here in the United States but for also shepherding the FFE India Trust and playing a substantial role in bringing FFE to its present stature. Board member Dr. Kailash Joshi, a founding member of TiE, was then named the next FFE president.
Among those present that evening were Indian Consul General N. Parthasarathi, well-known philanthropist and leading private-equity investor Romesh Wadhwani of the Symphony Group, and Dr. Kumar Malavalli, co-founder of Brocade Communications and InMage, all of whom gave speeches in praise of the efforts of the FFE.
Among the highlights of the evening were speeches by five alumni scholars who spoke of their struggles through life and their extreme challenges in attaining a higher education. They expressed their gratitude to FFE, noting that had it not been for the organization, they would still be struggling to support themselves and their families.
In addition to a dinner catered by Amber, the evening’s entertainment featured songs by “SaReGaMaPa” finalists Zaheer and Ishmeet, and a dance performance.