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Nonprofit and South Asian founder spotlighted in San Jose Mercury News

December 31, 2008
FFE volunteers (From San Jose Mercury News)

FFE volunteers (From San Jose Mercury News)

Check out this great story in the San Jose Mercury News about the Foundation for Excellence (FFE), a Silicon Valley based nonprofit founded by Prabhu Goel that provides scholarships to underprivileged students in India. The article is a great example of South Asian philanthropy making a difference to the lives of people both here in the U.S. and in South Asia.

While I would have predicted the statistics below about the number of Indians founding major tech firms, I was still struck by the following excerpt – I would not have guessed that the backgrounds of many Silicon Valley entrepreneurs was lower- or middle-class by Indian standards, rather I had always assumed that those tech leaders came from privileged backgrounds with a great deal of cultural capital in their home countries:

The hardscrabble backgrounds of the scholarship recipients are strikingly similar to the backgrounds of many who now fund the foundation. “Most Indo-Americans in Silicon Valley came from similar backgrounds,” the foundation’s [executive director Suresh] Seshan said. “Most of them were poor or lower middle class. Their education was subsidized by someone else.”

That help changed not only their lives but also the profile of Silicon Valley. A Duke University survey of 2,054 engineering and tech companies founded from 1995 through 2005 revealed that 25.8 percent of valley startups had at least one Indian as a key founder.

What did you think about the article? How can more South Asians get inspired to support philanthropic projects like the Foundation for Excellence? Should South Asians focus on one cause – like education for underprivileged students – or pursue their individual interests?

(Hat tip to Asian American Giving for the San Jose Mercury News article.)

One Comment leave one →
  1. January 2, 2009 4:42 pm

    This is a great story! I find particularly interesting the true collectivity that seems to have emerged around the mission. The Foundation has a fairly general name and, even within the story, no one person is singled out. FFE seems to have created a mission with wide appeal in the South Asian community. This effort is very exciting!

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