Taking Pride in giving back…

The text of this column were responses I shared with a social communications company last week for their blog. I thought it would be apt to share it here as well because if an idea can inspire even one person that would be well worth it.

Today, the second of July is the first Monday of the month and I’m in Mangalore as I write this at a renowned women’s college co-creating an event on behalf of a personal Foundation I created over a decade ago. The Foundation was created to keep alive the memory of an ordinary and simple woman called Ethel Prabhu who was ahead of her times and stood for certain values. It stands for three attributes Equality, Excellence and Empowerment that she stood for during her little over two decades of working as a school teacher across four cities. The Foundation supports close to a dozen initiatives.

My mother passed away in August 2001 and her mission was to give to others, and this remained incomplete due to her untimely death. In order to continue her spirit of serving others the Foundation was established informally soon after her passing away by launching the annual Best Teacher Award in Karnataka State which carries a cash prize in partnership with Sandesha. There are a few other initiatives run by the Foundation targeted at lesser-privileged students at the Ferrando Speech and Hearing centre in Shillong and at St Aloysius High School Mangalore. The Foundation also supports students at the School of Communication and Reputation through scholarships, quizzing at the Knowledge Factory through prize money and the Woman Entrepreneur Award in collaboration with St Agnes College in Mangalore, which makes its debut today.

The vision for the organisation is that by 2020 there will be a dozen initiatives that inspire others to do the same. All it takes is a determined effort and a few thousand rupees to start. Eventually these philanthropic activities create an impact. And build a set of people who can achieve their goals. Currently, the Foundation makes grants worth Rs Six lakh annually. These include scholarships, prize money, interest-free loans and knowledge events.

The late Ethel Prabhu did her under-graduation between 1968 and 1971 at St Agnes College, Mangalore. This year marks 50 years after she went to first year of college. She was a teacher par excellence and was one of the first Indian women who went, as a high school teacher when barely 24 years of age, to Hong Kong to teach English and Social Sciences in 1974. She taught at the St Joan of Arc School for three years before returning to India. She was a closet entrepreneur who made handcrafted wines, pickles and preserves in order to earn extra money so that her sons could have a better life. Her dream was to start her own food business by opting for voluntary retirement. But she could not realise the dream as her life was cut short.

Since the Ethel Prabhu Foundation supports a dozen causes that have been instituted in her memory, here’s one that will celebrate a woman entrepreneur annually. This includes a cash prize of Rs 50,000/- to be given to a woman in Mangalore who has been a solo entrepreneur for at least two years and is under the age of 50. The Award will be presented during the annual Mother Aloysia Endowment lecture at the St Agnes College in Mangalore on the first Monday of July.

I wanted to write about this so that it sparks a movement of giving back among fellow professionals in memory of a loved one.

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Amith Prabhu
Amith Prabhu is the Founder of the PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS, India’s annual summit of reputation management professionals.

He is also the Founding Dean of the School of Communications & Reputation (SCoRe).

He can be reached at @amithpr on twitter.

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