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Annual philanthropy creates educational opportunities

Published: Monday, March 4, 2013

Updated: Monday, March 4, 2013 01:03

COURTESY

Chi Psi members gather for "Project 365," in which dates with members and other volunteers are auctioned to raise money for a school in India.

 

For its annual “Project 365” event, the Chi Psi fraternity auctioned its members and other volunteers to provide dates to the highest bidders and generate funds for the fraternity’s philanthropy,

The fraternity donated the money raised through the event Saturday to the H.O.P.E. School — a school founded and supported by Chi Psi Fraternity — in the city of Kathlal, Gujarat, in northwestern India.

The event began in 2005 as a fundraiser to sponsor individual students in India who could not afford quality education. As the amount of money raised grew to a surplus, the brothers of Chi Psi Beta looked to expand their philanthropy.

“We wanted to take it to a grander scale,” said Rupak Gandhi, Class of 2007 and former president of Chi Psi Beta.

After collecting the necessary funds, the search for a school to sponsor began. Gandhi set his sites on a school based in Kathlal, Gujarat.

Gandhi’s uncle introduced him to the board of trustees for the school, who were looking for monetary support to keep the school running. Gandhi decided to buy the school with the help of his fraternity brothers.

Originally, the school was private, running solely on the funds provided by student tuition. Five years ago, due to a lack of sufficient resources, the school turned to the government with the intention of becoming a public school. At the time, it had only two classrooms with 75 students each.

“I was actually in the process of buying land to build my own school,” Gandhi said.

Instead, he chose to help revive a failing school that the brothers of Chi Psi Beta named “H.O.P.E,” an acronym for “Here Opportunity Proves Endless.”

“This was actually a huge factor in my decision to join Chi Psi Beta,” Asad Abdullah, freshman computer science major and member of Chi Psi said. “India has the highest number of children without access to education. We try to tackle the people affected most by this problem.”

Gandhi, a member of the Teach for America education-reform organization used the concept of performance-based pay, which bases teachers’ salaries on student performance, in the new H.O.P.E. School to maintain a high quality of education.

The H.O.P.E. School serves as a bridge for11th- and12th-grade students to go on to college and receive an educational foundation they otherwise would not have been able to afford. In the past three years, student achievement has increased from a 76 percent to a 90 percent passing standard.

 “We’re trying to renovate [the school] and rebuild it by providing it with the economic resources they need to be a self-sustaining school down the road,” Gandhi said.

Funds raised from Project 365 go toward providing teachers’ salaries, constructing and maintaining the new building and reducing student tuition costs.

“I think it makes a huge difference,” said Bobby Luka, a Blinn Team sophomore who participated in the auction. “Even though we’re not able to see direct results, knowing that you’re having such a huge impact on such a large group of people — I think that’s awesome”

While the philanthropies of most fraternities and sororities are dedicated to fundraising for organizations that have been established by others, Project 365 is the product of the Chi Psi Beta fraternity themselves.

Kristy Patel, sophomore Biology major said she likes how the fraternity is so invested in their philanthropy.

“You don’t see a lot of people doing something like this. It’s really unique,” Patel said. “They actually built the school themselves by raising money and they’re really determined.”

As the bids for dates got higher and higher, so did the chances for an education for the children of Kathlal.

“The only thing I can hope for, truly, is to get to provide the best opportunities for the students in that community,” Gandhi said.

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