“You can take an Indian out of India, but you can never take India out of an Indian”. 2020, the year of the pandemic, saw several Indian Americans including tech moguls and high-paid professionals live by the maxim. Ramesh Bhatia and Kalpana Bhatia, one of the most successful and richest Indian-origin business couples in the USA, donated over US$ 8 million to over 40 nonprofits throughout 2020. Recently, the Texas-based philanthropist duo made a charitable giving worth USD 150,000 towards healthcare efforts in the states of Bihar and Jharkhand. The generous donation to the Bihar Jharkhand Association of North America (BJANA) will help fund its rural health initiative.
The Indian American couple’s non-profit wing, the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation, is “dedicated to making an impactful change around the world by funding innovative solutions and programs that enrich the communities and serve the common good.” In 2020 alone, the foundation committed funding to the pandemic-hit communities and organizations in health, education, human rights, social justice, medical research, emergency response, mental health, and women & girls’ empowerment.
A $7-million grant to the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas is the biggest donation that the Bhatia Family Foundation has ever pledged till that and the couple’s most impactful initiative of the year 2020. UT Southwestern is the best and largest medical school in the US state of Texas.
The USD 7-million gift includes $5 million for funding the construction of the Neurosciences Tower at William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, a teaching hospital in the Southwestern medical district. The Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation Hall in the hospital’s new tower is supposed to be open this year. A university chair in research on brain science will be established with the remaining grant, in honor of the Bhatia Family Foundation.
Apart from funding major institutions, Ramesh Bhatia and Kalpana Bhatia extended their philanthropic arm to the small organizations that remained underfunded during the pandemic. One such organization is Dallas-based Ability Connection that provides shelter to adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The Bhatia Family Foundation partnered with Ability Connection and pledged a grant of over $500,000 for the construction of a new residence for the sheltered adults.
CEO of Atco Rubber Products in Dallas, Ramesh Bhatia went on to identify and support the few regional organizations that continued to provide essential services to the needy even during unprecedented times. As part of its response to the pandemic, the Bhatia Foundation donated over $225,000 to the regional organizations, including Communities in Schools in Dallas/Fort Worth, Sakhi for South Asian Women, United Way of Greater Los Angeles, Meals on Wheels Los Angeles, Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, and YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles.
In 2020, the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation donated $225,000 to Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County, which is part of a nationwide dropout prevention network trying to keep 1.3 million students in school till graduation. Among the beneficiaries of the Bhatia Foundation’s pandemic-special charity, Sakhi for South Asian Women is committed to serving survivors of gender violence in South Asian communities. The volunteers of Sakhi for South Asian Women provide technical assistance to the survivors of violence, advocate for the latter’s right to dignity and help them with community outreach.
In September 2020, the Bhatia couple took the pandemic as an opportunity to give back to the local community on the North Texas Giving Day, a one-day online giving event for billionaires and philanthropists. Since 2009, the North Texas Giving Day has been promoting the culture of community giving. The event raised $30,000 from the Bhatia Family Foundation for 30 local nonprofits and small businesses in and around Dallas.