American India Foundation (AIF) tasked with accelerating social and economic change in India via the mobilization of people and resources in the US raised 1.26 million at its seventh annual fall benefit gala titled Bollywood and Hollywood at the gorgeous Palace Hotel in San Francisco on Saturday, October 9.
“Since its start in 2001, AIF has invested and partnered with over 130 Indian NGOs working in the areas of education, livelihood and public health with emphasis on elementary education, women’s empowerment, maternal and child health. We have touched the lives of over 1.5 million people,” says Lata Krishnan, the Gala Chair. The Chahal Family Foundation donated $150,000 to the AIF Digital Equalizer program.
Every year the organization at its annual shindig honors two corporate chieftains for their leadership, entrepreneurial endeavors and commitment to corporate social responsibility in India.
This year’s Corporate Leadership honoree was Shantanu Narayen, CEO, Adobe Systems and the Philanthropic Leadership Award went to Chong Moon Lee, Chairman, AmBex Venture Group and Nara Bank.
“On behalf of Adobe, Adobe foundation and our 8000 employees worldwide, I am honored to accept this award. In less than ten years, AIF has grown to become one of the largest US philanthropic organizations focused on India. It is a testament to the will and passion of the people who have built and supported AIF and we at Adobe are proud to be counted amongst partners of AIF to help accelerate social and economic change in India,” said Shantanu Narayen in his acceptance speech.
“Adobe’s passion has always been how world engages with ideas and information. Without creativity and expression, this world would certainly be a dull place. Changing the status quo and contributing to a better DNA has always been important to Adobe and to conduct business in a social and ethical manner and to support the communities that we work in is an important core value of Adobe. I think it is important to draw inspiration and contribute to a cause that is dear to you. For my family and me the cause is education. My wife-Renee is involved with an organization called Free the Children,” he added. Then he went on to speak about Adobe Youth Voices (Adobe Foundation’s global signature philanthropy program) that aims to empower youth in underserved communities around the globe with real-world experiences and 21st century tools to communicate their ideas, exhibit their potential, and take action in their communities. “We are delighted to partner with AIF’s Digital Equalizer program,” he said.
Launched in June 2006, Adobe Youth Voices is active in 31 schools in Noida, Delhi and Bangalore, providing the middle and high school age youth in the various state run and other schools with breakthrough learning experiences using video, multimedia, digital art, web, animation, and audio tools to become active and engaged members of their communities and the world. The company also donates software and employees volunteer at the various schools in myriad mentoring roles.
Shantanu’s address was followed by introduction of 17-year-old boy Faiz Ahmad Faiz from Jamia School in Delhi-currently an exchange student studying in North Carolina by Ethan Veneklasen, Executive Director-West Coast-AIF.
“I am very glad to be here amongst you great personalities. I am excited but I am also nervous, so excuse me if I make any mistakes. I am here as a youth exchange and study program student. I have also been a participant of the Adobe Youth Voices. I have been in the AIF Digital Equalizer program since 7th grade. I started with basic things on the computer and then I learnt a lot and gained a lot of experience and because of that experience, I had the confidence and applied for the youth exchange program and that is why I am standing in front of you. But this is my story. This is not the story of every Indian. Many government school students do not have a computer. They have never seen one. I am very lucky. AIF ne mujhe babut kuch diya aur bahut kuch de raha hai. This is the best opportunity I could get. Thank you all for making it possible. Please make it possible for others like me too,” said Faiz to a thunderous applause.