2019 Mid-Year Report
It has been a busy eight months, and we have several exciting updates for you in this mid-year report. First, we are pleased to report that our annual commitments to our three partners (Jeevan Stem Cell Foundation, the Altius Foundation, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness) have been fulfilled. We’ll report in further detail on our three partners in the annual report later this year. In addition to our partnerships, we are very excited to have already approved four Mukund Devan Family Projects submitted by Sudhi, Alex, Natalie, and Geetha. Please see below to learn more about their projects and stay tuned for the annual report for more updates.
We hope this mid-year update will be informative and that it will spark your interest in finding your own way of getting involved. With a little under four months remaining in this calendar year, we urge the rest of the family to submit your own family projects application as soon as possible.
Please stay tuned for our year-end report, which will provide a broader overview of our strategy, operations, and finances.
Thank you for your continued support,
The Palayam Foundation Executive Team
September 12, 2019
by Sudhi Rajagopal
I-MAK is an organization of lawyers, scientists and health experts taking on a $1 trillion global industry to make medicines affordable and ensure lifesaving drugs reach families struggling to afford treatment. As a family, we have heard about Priti's work for a long time. She is dedicated, talented, and is using her platform to achieve real, measurable change with regard to access to much needed medications. I am personally very excited that, after pursuing this work globally, she is now turning her attention to the US, where the pharmaceutical industry has the power to raise medication prices at will. Particularly in correctional populations, with whom I now have contact, medication are limited due to the burden of cost borne by the state. Further, once inmates are paroled, most with severe mental illnesses such as schizophrenia no longer have access to the medications that will keep them safe and out of prison.
by Alexandra Yannakos
Lesvos Solidarity is a Greek NGO which offers a citizen led refugee camp and vocational center on the Greek island of Lesvos. It prioritizes refugee groups deemed more at-risk, such as young orphans and pregnant women. Lesvos is a unique and striking alternative to the world-famous overcrowded misery camp called Moria, set up by the Greek government and the UNHCR. As the refugee crisis lengthens it is increasingly difficult to find funding. Lesvos Solidarity is struggling right now, unsure if it will be able to continue operating. I have been deeply touched by the refugee crisis in the Mediterranean since its onset, particularly in all the ways it is unfairly affecting Greece, a country already going through an unprecedented financial and social crisis. My greek family members and my travels have helped educate me to some of the issues entailed in this crisis, and a long-term friend of mine told me about this organization about 2 years ago. I have followed their work on social media ever since. I am very inspired by the sense of dignity they bring to the psychological and social dimensions of the refugee crisis, for the refugee themselves, but also for the local Greek community and the international volunteers working for them. I admire their creativity, positivity, and resourcefulness. My friend continues to volunteer with them every year and is a good source of information as well. I, myself, hope to volunteer for Lesvos Solidarity someday soon. Through the grant provided by the Palayam Foundation, my plan is to connect directly with the team managing Lesvos Solidarity to start a relationship and learn more about their programs and needs.
Association for India's Development (AhaGuru)
by Natalie Rajagopal
Ahaguru is both a live and virtual classroom experience for high school age students in Chennai (and surrounding rural areas) to learn math and science in a fun and approachable way. I can personally say that Balaji is a well reputed and extremely friendly person. I had the opportunity to meet him in person last fall when he was in the US fundraising. His teaching style is mesmerizing (even for me, someone who doesn't understand the first thing about math OR science!). I first became aware of Ahaguru through the founder, Balaji Sampath, a friend of Raju and Geetha's. He has generously set up interviews with adolescents for my dissertation research on the experience of loneliness among adolescents in Chennai. All of the students I have spoken with speak so highly of him and the work Ahaguru does in helping them understand math and science concepts. Through my interviews with Balaji's students I was personally touched to hear how much they all admire him and are so grateful for the opportunity to learn from him. If you visit his website you can see that several of his students have ranked VERY highly on their recent JEE exam. Through Palayam’s Family Projects program, I was thrilled to be able to support Balaji’s work and the continue my involvement with his organization!
by Geetha Rajagopal
The Hidden Genius Project trains and mentors black male youth in technology creation, entrepreneurship, and leadership skills to transform their lives and communities. This organization is based out of Oakland and started by a few African American guys who made it into the tech field and felt African Americans were underrepresented in the tech field both in college enrollment as a major and in the work force. For as long as MDFP is available I will look for a worthy project every year in Oakland, the place Mukund lived in. This year I came upon The Hidden Genius Project. What this organization does is exactly 'Powering Positive Change in their own community [African American] and it is a community we [MD Family] call home' as well. I read recently that organizations run entirely for and by African Americans receive disproportionately less funding than most other organizations in the US. I feel that we need to make more opportunities available for youth of this community. Investing in youth is the best way of making change. Where African American youth is concerned, investing in them is a dire need of the moment no matter what their background is. This organization is providing African American youth from Oakland, Richmond, Union City, Newark, Hayward,... with opportunities to be represented in tech field close to other minority communities and become role models for others in their community. I will also look for possible opportunities for the family to get involved in ways other than financial assistance.
Global Citizen Year Grant Recipients Visit Palayam Foundation
On July 1, Palayam Foundation and several members of our family hosted the Global Citizen Year (GCY) grant recipients for a meet and greet at the office in San Francisco. It was an an excellent chance to connect with those directly impacted by our charitable donations.
Global Citizen Year is an Oakland-based non-profit that recruits and trains a diverse group of American high school seniors for an immersion-based international bridge / gap year program before starting college. Geetha submitted a Family Projects application for the Foundation to support for 2 graduates, Khalil and Martin, who were seeking this gap year experience.
Khalil is from El Cerrito and recently graduated from College Prep. He had his gap year experience in Pune, India. This was an especially meaningful experience for Khalil, as he is half Indian by blood, while his family is from Trinidad and Tobago. He defined it as a way to reconnect with his Indian ancestry. Khalil stayed with a host family in Pune, and worked at a Government school in through the Teach for America program. Khali is headed to Reed College this year.
Martin was born in Mexico, and raised here in Sonoma County where he recently graduated high school. When deciding whether to apply for the GCY program, he wanted to make sure that he had the right motivations going into college. He knew that GCY would allow him to develop the right perspectives to get the most from his college experience. Martin was placed with a host family in Ecuador, where he worked at a place for the elderly and a community center. He noted how the elderly were well cared for by their families and drew the contrast between the culture in the US. Martin built a deep connection with his host families and shared stories of his work at the community center, which changed his view about how we care for each other as we age. Martin is heading to Butte College in Oroville next year.
We want to thank Geetha for introducing the Palayam Foundation to Global Citizen Year, and we encourage everyone to continue leveraging Family Projects for causes and charities they are passionate about.
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
Sudhi Rajagopal, Chair - Napa, California
Nivedita Gopinath Sarathy - San Francisco, California
Vikram Ranganathan - San Ramon, California
Vasu Devan - San Francisco, California
Kousalya Ranganathan - Danville, California