These Indian Americans Are Making A Difference To The US Higher Education

4 min


Did you know that Indian Americans donate about $1 billion per year, far less than their potential of $3 billion philanthropy in the US, according to the results of a first-of-its-kind survey?

Indian Americans

Well, a recent study has shown that 50 Indian Americans have donated more than $1.2 billion to the US higher education, which includes colleges and universities. This research was conducted by ‘Indiaspora,’ a nonprofit organization whose goal for this study was to transform the success of Indian Americans into a meaningful impact worldwide and how much the community gives back to their adopted homeland.

The survey also showed that the community donated in the range of 1.5% of their income per year, compared to the average American donation rate of 4% per year. With a strong 4.1 million members, Indian Americans have one of the highest median household incomes of any ethnic community in the US, and it has always been recognized as being well educated and socially aware.

Within the last 18 years (2000-2018) Indian Americans have donated $1 million or more to the American higher education.

Fifty individuals made 68 donations of $1 million or more and nearly half are repeat donors. “The most prevalent motive cited by Indian Americans for their charity towards higher education is the desire as alumni to give back to the colleges and universities that supported them when they first came to America as Indian immigrants,” said MR Rangaswami, the founder of Indiaspora. He added that these donors often credit the college or university they are giving back to for launching them on the path towards their extremely successful careers.

The report shows that the donations have been made mostly in private universities like the University of California, Los Angeles, which received the greatest number of donations, Harvard University, and Boston University, followed by the University of Chicago and the University of Pennsylvania. Three of the 37 colleges that received donations from Indian Americans were community colleges. Universities in Massachusetts received the most money followed by those in Florida, New York, and California.

While business and medicine are the two fields which received most donations followed by engineering, South Asia studies and India studies also made the cut. The report said, “Indian-American philanthropists are improving and elevating the impacts of these fields not just for Indians, but for students from every culture.” The survey also stated that Indian Americans are “giving back” as a community to institutions that provide opportunities for young people of all backgrounds.

Few of the donors who have made the community proud by their efforts are:

  • Late Vijay Singhvi gave $2 million to fund University of Cincinnati’s Endowed Chair in Cardiac Imaging.
  • Sumir Chadha gave a gift to his alma mater, Princeton University, to establish the M.S. Chadha Center for Global India which brings together students and scholars of all disciplines to broadly explore contemporary India. The center was named in honor of his grandfather, a distinguished physician who served as the Director General of Health Service for India.
  • Mohinder Sambhi gave $1 million to UCLA to establish the Endowed Chair in Indian Music, named after his late wife, Mohindar Brar Sambhi.
  • Satish and Yasmin Gupta donated $12 million to The University of Texas at Dallas because the college holds a special place in their hearts. UT Dallas not only embraced them when they arrived from India and supported them in their studies, but it was also the place where they fell in love.
  • Sunil Puri came to Rockford University at age 18 with just $150 to his name. While studying, he worked as campus security, washed dishes, and emptied bedpans in a local nursing home to be able to pay for his education. He would go on to be the founder and president of a prominent real estate development, redevelopment and property management company spanning the Midwest. Puri subsequently made multiple donations totaling $6 million to his alma mater, saying the school “never gave up on him.”
  • Kris Gopalakrishnan is not an alumnus of Carnegie Mellon University, yet he gave the college $1.8 million to conduct more research on brain function, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. 
  • The philanthropic businesswoman and Grammy-nominated artist Chandrika Tandon gave $100 million to New York University’s engineering school. She remarked that the engineering school’s “entrepreneurial spirit” made her want to donate, highlighting one of the values important to women of color striving for professional success in the US.

They make us proud.

Pallavi Nair


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Pallavi Nair

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