Indian Americans Have Donated Over $1.2 Billion to U.S. Universities Since 2000

Indian Americans have given over $1.2 billion to 37 American universities and colleges since 2000, according to a new study.


Indian-origin Americans have donated more than $1.2 billion to American universities and colleges since 2000, according to a new study.

Indian Americans donated more than $1.2 billion to 37 American universities and colleges from 2000 to August 2018, the study, “Indisapora Monitor of University Giving 2018,” said. Fifty different donors made the 68 donations that were analyzed for the study, the first in a series conducted by Indiaspora, a nonprofit organization that aims to transform the success of Indian Americans into meaningful impact worldwide.

The study showed that about 47 percent of the donations are from repeat donors who had also given $1 million or more to either the same or a different university or college.

A total of 37 different colleges were recipient of the 68 largest donations and these higher educational institutions are both geographically and economically diverse. Private universities receive more than twice the donation as public colleges and receive $5 for every $2 donated to public schools. The University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) received the greatest number of donations, with Harvard University and Boston University coming second, closely followed by University of Chicago and University of Pennsylvania. Three of the 37 colleges receiving donations were community colleges, according to the report.

Indian-origin people provided money for general student scholarships or campus facilities and buildings. Donation value for engineering colleges or universities was the highest at 24.8%, followed closely by medicine and business at 20.6%. General donations were at 7.3% while South Asia Studies received 5.5% of all donations. Technology received 3.4% of all donations while physics and environmental studies received 1.1% each. 

According to Council for Aid to Education, donations to American universities grew 6% to a record $43.6 billion in 2017, and more than $19 billion of these charitable funds were given by individuals.

Indian Americans are the most educated ethnic group in the United States, and on an average earn $1,00,000 annually as opposed $60,000 that most Americans earn. “As a community, Indian Americans embody the ideal of hard work and have even been named the most entrepreneurial ethnic group in America,” the study said.

Indian American philanthropists are improving and elevating the impacts of these fields not just for Indians, but for students from every culture. The India Studies donations created 10 positions, programs, or centers to promote Indian culture.

“As India becomes a leading nation of the twenty-first century, it is imperative that a pre-eminent global institution like Yale have a deep and wide base of India studies. This commitment reinforces Yale’s position as a truly Global University. We expect many more connections between Yale and India in the years ahead,” Infosys co-founder Nandan Nilekani, who created one of these programs at Yale, was quoted as saying in the report.

One of the largest donations ever made by an Indian American was by Chandrika Tandon. The successful businesswoman and Grammy-nominated artiste gave $100 million to New York University’s engineering school. For her, 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 country.

“The imagination and inventiveness of the students and faculty as they worked together on real world problems; the cutting-edge work being done both within the school and collaboratively across schools in such diverse areas like the arts, medicine, education, incubators; the entrepreneurial spirit that pervades the place — all this inspired us so,” she was quoted as saying the study.

For the study, Indiaspora looked at donations that were limited to publicly reported donations or more than $1 million to U.S. colleges and universities, both private and public.

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