The Chance to Break Free

The Chance to Break Free

A group of successful Indo-American tech execs in Silicon Valley provide scholarships to poor students in India. (San Jose Mercury News)

While India has benefited from great prosperity in the past decade, the contrast between the rich and poor is still great. Only one in ten children enroll in higher education and few get any kind of vocational education. Many high tech executives worry that social stability in India could unravel if poverty is not relieved.

A Silicon Valley non-profit is trying to break through the cycle of poverty through education. The Foundation for Excellence, started by successful Indo-American tech executives, provides higher education scholarships to impoverished students in India.

To qualify, a student must meet rigorous academic standards and come from a family whose income is not much more than $3 a day. The yearly stipends are no more than $550 per pupil, and they cover everything from books to boarding.

This video by the San Jose Mercury News tells the story of three grant recipients, including two young men who live in India and a woman who received assistance from the foundation several years ago and is now doing postdoctoral work at Stanford University.

So far, the foundation has assisted nearly 11,000 students, and its goal is to one day provide assistance to 10,000 students a year. Foundation members know they cannot end poverty in India but they say they have been successful in helping individuals and their families. “We are not only changing their lives,” one member said. “They are changing our lives, too.” won Editor and Publisher’s 2009 EPpy award for “Best Use of Video in a Media-Affiliated Website.”

CHANNEL: San Jose Mercury News

Length: 7:18

Video/Photo/Production by Dai Sugano
Reporting/Narration by John Boudreau