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2018 Mid-Year Report


A Focus on Programs...

The Foundation focused heavily on programs for the first half of 2018. Our “venture philanthropy” model allowed us to deepen relationships with existing partners. Ongoing conversations with the Altius Foundation, Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) have proven fruitful, and we have had the opportunity to be a part of innovative new projects. We have also connected with our partners in new ways, including a visit to the 2018 NAMI National Convention in New Orleans. Our partnership structure has given our efforts depth and sustainability while also allowing us to turn our attention to the important work of engaging family members in their own philanthropic ventures. Family Projects applications submitted by Nivy and Geetha have led us to new areas of giving including the arts and youth development. We hope this mid-year programs update will be informative, but more importantly, that it will spark your interest in finding your own way of getting involved. Our year-end report will provide a broader overview of our strategy, operations, and finances.

Thank you for your continued support,
Sudhi Rajagopal
Executive Director
August 11, 2018



National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

In March the board discussed various proposals by NAMI to forge a lasting partnership in the area of mental health. In the end, the board decided that the greatest impact we could have over the long term was in the area of mental health awareness—including awareness of issues specific to minority communities—and stigma reduction. To these ends we donated to NAMI to support their 2018 awareness campaigns. NAMI works to reduce stigma and raise awareness about mental health year round. In particular, there are three cornerstone campaigns that they focus on: May, which is Mental Health Month, July which is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and the first full week of October, which is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Palayam's support is directed to all of these areas, and will enable the production of nationally televised PSAs, multilingual materials aimed at educaiton and stigma reduction, and engagement with mental health consumers and families through NAMI’s website, blog, and in-person presentations.

NAMI 2018 National Convention

In June, Sudhi and Natalie attended the NAMI 2018 National Convention in New Orleans. This convention provided a first-hand look at the passion and energy behind NAMI’s work, as well as the incredible reach they have among those living with mental illness and their families. A series of presentations and meetings brought to light mental health issues within the criminal justice system, issues specific to Asian-American communities (access to multilingual services and educational materials, stigma in Asian communities), and policy issues (healthcare, mental health parity). Surprisingly, the vast majority of attendees were mental health consumers and their families, not professionals and practitioners as we had assumed they would be. This speaks to the great hunger for information and support around mental health issues in both majority and minority communities. We are proud to be partnered with an organization that is putting so much thought into filling this important need. Feel free to talk to Sudhi or Natalie for more details on their visit to the NAMI Convention.


Altius Foundation

Palayam Foundation is entering the 3rd year of partnership with Altius Foundation. As Altius continues to grow, we have looked for new and unique ways to support their cause of extending educational opportunities to students across India.

One of the programs we have supported, the Karka Math Lab (KML), has experienced significant growth and success. This program has helped students (grade 6-8) learn mathematics and computer skills, using standardized learning programs and Khan Academy modules. There has been large demand for the KML program from school systems in rural areas of India. Altius is focused on meeting the demand, and will scale the KML program rapidly over the next 12-24 months.

Students at the Panchayat Union Middle school (Pudukkadu, Coimbatore) learning math using Khan Academy modules.

Students at the Panchayat Union Middle school (Pudukkadu, Coimbatore) learning math using Khan Academy modules.

In order to ensure this program scales effectively, Altius is developing an open-source Learning Management Platform that will provide guided learning journeys, capture information, and provide immediate feedback to the students the students as they progress through the curriculum of the KML program. It will also capture data for teachers and administrators, so they can focus their counseling and get immediate feedback on performance.

Altius believes that the development of this Platform will be a critical part of the continued growth of the KML program. The Palayam Foundation Board voted on and approved a $25,000 donation this year to support the development of this Platform. We are excited to see our partnership with Altius become more strategic, and in line with our "Venture Philanthropy"model.

This year, the board approved a grant for the Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation (Jeevan) to continue our ongoing partnership to help cover their overhead and administrative fees. This has been our area of support for the past few years and we continue to see positive developments and significant progress in the field of stem cell research and registration and Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) typing.

Every year over 120,000 Indians are diagnosed with blood cancers and another 10,000 children are born with blood diseases like Thalassemia. Their only hope for a cure is to find matching stem cell donors and undergo a transplant. This is where Jeevan hopes to bridge the gap.

Because of our support, Jeevan has been able to facilitate 40 successful stem cell transplants and provide free HLA typing for patients and potential bone marrow donors. Additionally, Jeevan's ninth cord blood transplant was successfully completed this March for a child in Ahmedabad. Earlier this year, Jeevan became the first Next-Generation Sequencing (NGS)/Human Leukocyte Antigen (HLA) laboratory in to be accredited by the highest body in India, the National Accreditation Board for Testing and Calibration Laboratories (NABL). An accreditation audit by the European Federation for Immunogenetics was also completed in April which resulted in a highly-desirable international accreditation.

2018 marks the third and final year of our current grant commitment with Jeevan. We look forward to working with the leadership team at Jeevan to assess our impact and possibly further our partnership next year.

Mukund Devan Family Projects

We are excited to approve two recent applications for Family Projects by Geetha and Nivy. Please see below to learn more about their projects and stay tuned for the annual report for more updates.


Global Citizen Year

Application submitted by Geetha Rajagopal

Global Citizen Year is an Oakland-based non-profit that recruits and trains a diverse corps of American high school seniors to participate in an immersion-based international bridge year – often called a gap year – before starting college. The organization is founded on the idea that America’s next generation of leaders will require global citizenship to effectively address the problems of the 21st century.

Geetha has been wanting to see how or what can make a difference in the life of a local young adult that would make him or her gain tools to be a catalyst for change that sees the world as one. Global Citizen Year comes closest to how a small investment can potentially make a huge positive impact on the mind-set of young adults.

Geetha proposes to sponsor two local, low income, high school candidates to experience the Global Citizen Year program for the year starting in August. Each sponsorship is five thousand dollars and she believes that it will be a great way to test this sector and see where it can take us.

The Leela Endowment

Application submitted by Nivedita Gopinath-Sarathy

The Leela Endowment has been set up by the Leela Dance Collective and is unique among Indian dance organizations. The Endowment has a fundraising goal of two million dollars to provide the financial infrastructure necessary to advance and elevate Indian classical dance and music on the world stage. It will provide direct financial support to emerging and established artists that serve as India’s artistic and cultural ambassadors through annual fellowships ranging from ten to twenty-five thousand dollars.

Nivy has been a classical dancer since she was a child. The financial struggles of gifted artists in India and the world over is real and heartbreaking. When Rachna Nivas reached out to explain what her organization is trying to accomplish, it made sense to Nivy. In a few years, this endowment might allow a whole company of Kathak dancers to choose their artistic vocation without giving up on making a living. That, Nivy believes, is worth our contribution.

Thank you.


Sudhi Rajagopal, Chair - Napa, California
Jamie Rajagopal-Durbin - Lander, Wyoming
Nivedita Gopinath Sarathy - San Francisco, California
Vikram Ranganathan - San Ramon, California
Vasu Devan - San Francisco, California
Kousalya Ranganathan - Danville, California


Sudhi RajagopalExecutive Director
Vishrudh SarathyDirector of Finance
Abinand DevanDirector of Operations