Oct 16, 2019

Annual SF Bay Area Gala Recognizes Pratham Partner


On Saturday, September 21, 2019, the SF Bay Area chapter held its annual gala at the iconic Hotel Fairmont in San Jose to celebrate and support Pratham’s work in India. The event also recognized technology company Western Digital, which has supporting Pratham digital programs in the urban communities of Bangalore.

“It is wonderful to see the community come together to support Pratham,” said Chapter President Umesh Singh of the sold-out event. “Their generosity has enabled us to help Pratham expand its literacy and learning programs to hundreds of additional communities.”

Following cocktails, Stephen Milligan, CEO, Western Digital, delivered the night’s keynote speech. “India has won the battle on getting children to schools but has yet to win the war in educating all of those children who attend those schools,” said Milligan. “To allow a child to learn is to open new opportunities to the community. Math and language literacy are the basic building blocks of a successful and productive life. This is why we are a firm believer in the work being done by Pratham.”

Devyani Pershad, head of Pratham’s international programs, stressed the importance of collaboration and innovation in achieving our mission. “At Pratham, we continue to believe that effective ideas and models need to be shared with others, so our large scale work in the early years has been achieved by big volunteer campaigns as well as the partnerships with governments. As we look into the future, we can see that technology will bring with it tremendous new possibilities, spreading and sharing ideas that change lives.”

Her remarks come as TaRL Africa, a collaboration with J-PAL to improve the foundational learning outcomes of three million students completes its first year. The initiative employs Pratham’s pioneering teaching at the right level methodology in countries across Africa.

Senior vice president and chief technology officer for Applied Materials, Om Nalamasu summed up what attracted him to Pratham: “You know, many of us Indians who are in Silicon Valley really come from middle-class backgrounds and quite a few of us come from rural areas, and the way where we ended up is essentially by a meandering path but if you can provide the tools, the experiential learning; if you can teach kids on how to learn the concepts of science and technology, it should not be a meandering path for them to success, it should be a directed path for success.”

For Gini Deshpande, founder and CEO of NuMedii, it is Pratham’s Second Chance program that connects her to our work. “Pratham has also done an amazing job of helping girls get back into school. A lot of them drop out of school for economic or other reasons. I love the idea that they have created a program to enable them get back into school and catch up and sort of not lag behind in terms of where they should be so they can actually benefit from the educational system that India has.

After Dinny Devitre, vice chairman of Pratham, presented Milligan with a corporate leadership award, a performance by Mentalist Brett Barry captivated audience members. The successful event, which was attended by 300 guests, would not have been possible without the support of the Bay Area board and gala committee.