Oct 17, 2018

Pratham Chicago Brings Momentum to India's Learning Crisis


On Saturday, October 6, 2018, close to 350 prominent business leaders, dignitaries and members of the local Indian-American community gathered in downtown Chicago for the annual Pratham gala. Held at the elegant Venue SIX10, with its panoramic views of the city and Lake Michigan, the event raised $350,000 for our transformative educational programs.

In his keynote speech, Steven D. Levitt, William B. Ogden Distinguished Service Professor of Economics at the University of Chicago and co-author of Freakonomics, made his admiration of Pratham clear: “I get asked to do roughly 100 events like this a year and this is the only one I accepted.” With wit and wisdom, Levitt recounted his own attempts at making a difference in the world: “When you see how incredibly ineffective I’ve been over and over and over, by comparison, you might begin to appreciate more what Pratham has been able to do in that amount of time.” Levitt emphasized that “it is the hardest thing in the world to actually make change” and urged the audience to support Pratham in our mission to do so.

Guests were also visibly moved by the words of Pranali Kaurati, a remarkable graduate of our bedside assistance training program, who has overcome great adversity in her young life. “The three-month Pratham training period was one of the best experiences of my life,” she explained. “My dream is to help people who can’t help themselves. I was one of them a few years ago, and now thanks to Pratham and my job, I get to look after patients and assist them with their needs, and this provides me with an incredible amount of satisfaction and happiness.”

Chicago teens Vinayaka Amin, Avanti Parkhe and Vikas Reddy, who had spent two weeks in India as part of the Pratham USA youth leaders program, spoke about their visit. “This experience had such a profound impact on us,” said Reddy on behalf of the group. “We hope to continue our involvement with Pratham for many years to come.”

The evening also included a live auction as well as a performance by singer/songwriter Subhi, who wowed the audience with her original blend of jazz and South Asian music.

Chapter president Joher Akolawala was thrilled with the evening’s turnout, a reflection of the overall momentum of the chapter: “We have nearly tripled our volunteer membership and net contributions over the last five years at the Chicago chapter, and the credit goes to the committed and generous Chicago community.”

First-time attendees Rattan Khosa, CEO and founder of AMSYSCO, Inc., and Mafat Patel, co-founder of Patel Brothers, were among the many notable faces that graced the event hosted by gala co-chairs Alwar Narayanan and Sandeep Rao.

Sponsors included Vinakom Inc., GE, Allstate Insurance Company, McKinsey & Company, Mondelēz International, Infosys, Accenture, Microsoft, Ernst & Young LLP, Mars Wrigley Confectionery, Luxfer PLC, Opera Solutions, United Airlines and Diageo.