The Remala Family: Leading by Example

Long-time Pratham Seattle board members Rao and Satya Remala exemplify the impact that education can have on a child’s life. Born into a poor family in a small village in southeastern India, Rao eventually graduated with an advanced degree in computer engineering. In 1981, he moved to America to join Microsoft, where he worked directly under Bill Gates on the development of Windows. He was the company’s first south Asian hire.

After retirement in 2008, he and his wife created the Satya and Rao Remala Foundation. A recent article in Inside Philanthropy profiles the couple’s daughters, Srilata and Srilakshmi, who have taken the reins of the family’s philanthropic pursuits.

“Our parents are very giving people,” says Srilakshmi. “They recognize how they got to where they are and are very humbled by that experience.” Perhaps because of that personal history, much of the foundation’s giving is targeted at health and education initiatives, both local and international, particularly those intended for people of color.

According to a 2018 Indiaspora survey, Indian-Americans, one of the wealthiest demographics in the country, donate roughly $1 billion annually to charity. As impressive as this figure is, it amounts to only a third of the national average based on the community’s enormous giving potential. While Indian-Americans volunteer at nearly double the national average, they give substantially less financially, ultimately leaving significant social impact on the table.

Rao and Satya hope to change this and want their family to lead by example. “If they can encourage other people,” explains Srilakshmi, “particularly other South Asians, or people with similar immigrant stories, if they could be a model for that—this is key.”

“The Remala family has been a strong advocate of Pratham, inspiring numerous people to understand the importance of education,” said Pratham Seattle Chairman Pradeep Singh. “With their breadth of giving interests, they are truly role models for the entire South Asian community.”

Read more about the family foundation Inside Philanthropy.

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