The American India Foundation, which has invested $84 million in programs aiding the poor throughout India, is set to open an Atlanta chapter.
Amitabh Sharma, founder of IT consulting firm Asterix Consulting Inc., is heading up a leadership council charged with creating the new chapter, which will launch officially with an afternoon tea at 3 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 2.
The New York-based foundation was launched in 2001 after an earthquake in the state of Gujarat that killed 20,000 people and displaced hundreds of thousands. President Bill Clinton and others at the time saw the need for a better philanthropic conduit from the U.S. to India.
Now the foundation has worked with 227 partner organizations in 23 Indian states on projects in six areas: education, entrepreneurship, public health, livelihood, environment and leadership.
A few examples: In Uttar Pradesh and other states, the foundation launched a program to help rickshaw drivers own their vehicles, cutting out exploitative middle men. In 14 states, AIF has installed computers and other technology in more than 2,400 schools to help bridge the gap in educational opportunities between the rich and poor.
Atlanta is to have the first chapter in the Southeast U.S., joining others in San Francisco, Chicago, Dallas, Los Angeles, New England, New York’s tri-state area and Washington.
Atlanta’s role as the center of a vibrant region and international city were reasons for its selection, but Mr. Sharma says his work also played a role.
He was approached by the foundation when one of its leaders heard of his work helping educate India’s underprivileged rural population. Eight years ago, Mr. Sharma and his wife, Meenu Sharma, head of Decatur Montessori School, started a school in Agra, the hometown of the famed Taj Mahal.
Funded by Asterix proceeds, the school began with seven young children from the “poorest of the poor” families in the region; it now educates 160 kids. Mr. Sharma and his wife have also begun funding programs to teach local women handicrafts to prepare them for new jobs.
The AIF counts the foundations of major companies like Adobe and Citi among its financial backers, as well as many influential individuals. It has a $7 million annual budget, with 80 percent going directly to programs. Outside contributions go directly to the field, since administrative costs are covered by board members and trustees.
Click here to see an interactive map of AIF’s projects across India.
For more information or to RSVP to the launch event, contact Mr. Sharma at email@example.com or call him at 770-270-1758.