The George Foundation
The George Foundation (TGF) is a non-governmental organization (NGO) established in 1995 with head office in Bangalore, India. Its founder is Dr. Abraham M. George, a successful business entrepreneur in the United States who returned to India and embarked on a number of humanitarian projects.
TGF groups its projects according to three objectives: alleviation of poverty, protection of health and the environment, and improvement of governance.
TGF's poverty alleviation projects are designed to improve education and health care delivery, offer amenities such as proper housing and adequate water resources, and create employment and sufficient income to sustain the rural poor family.
- Shanti Bhavan Boarding School
Shanti Bhavan evolved from the recognition that the innate abilities of impoverished children are no different from those of their more fortunate peers. The project assumes, given a quality education and constant encouragement, they will realize their full potential as successful, productive members of society.
According to TGF's website, Shanti Bhavan was established in September 1997 with 48 students, the school and campus are located in Baliganapalli, an impoverished area in the Krishnagiri district of Tamil Nadu in southern India. The students are selected from the surrounding areas of Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka criteria include for selection include family wealth (with the focus being on the poorest families) and the child's intelligence (with the focus being on children considered intelligent enough to succeed at the school). TGF intends the school to increase in size to 336 students.
The school is designed to be as self-sufficient as possible, with a number of ground wells, water storage tanks, a horticultural garden, orchards, and a bakery. In keeping with ecological concerns, much of the energy needs of the institution are met by solar power.
The Shanti Bhavan program is from pre-school to twelfth grade. Formal instruction in the initial three years is limited to language and mathematics. English is the medium of instruction, and Hindi and Tamil are taught by the fourth year. The children are also encouraged to pursue interests in sports, games, art, dance, music and drama. As of 2012, two batches of children have graduated from high school (12th grade), and are studying in top colleges with majors in engineering, microbiology, sciences, business, psychology, law and others.
- Community Development Program
The Community Development Program undertakes actions in the 17 villages surrounding Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. According to TGF's website the program attempts to "bring about significant improvement in the lives of the entire population served by our intervention within a period of 10 years starting 2006" and may cover creation of livelihood opportunities and employment, education and skills-training, healthcare, housing, water management, infrastructure improvement, and social development.
- Agri-Business Training Centre - Women's Empowerment
According to TGF's website, the Women’s Empowerment Project is intended to train women in aspects of farming. Poor women from the Tamil Nadu and Karnataka will be provided with a quarter acre of land, supplies, equipment and training in cottage and cooperative farming. As of 2007 the project is still in the preparatory stages.
- Tillany Fine Arts Museum & Gallery
Tillany Fine Arts Museum & Gallery was built in 2000 near Shanti Bhavan. It is a 15,000-square-foot (1,400 m2) air conditioned facility, designed in contemporary style.
According to TGF's website, once it is fully functioning, Tillany will provide poor artists with exposure to artwork from around the world, free loan of tools to complete their own art and promotion and marketing of their creations. Art displayed at the museum will be sold with 40% of the proceeds going to the artist.
Protection of health and the environment
- Baldev Medical and Community Centre
The Baldev Medical and Community Centre serves the 17 villages surrounding Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. According to TGF's website, the Baldev Medical Centre serves approximately 30 patients a day. The centre sends field workers to homes, provides health checks for children at the government's Deeverapalli school, and runs health education classes. Baldev Medical a Community Centre also builds housing for poor families, provides well water, and conducts annual sanitation clean ups in the villages it serves maintaining drainage and latrines.
- Lead Poisoning Prevention and Treatment
According to the TGF website, Project Lead-Free was launched in 1997 to screen blood lead levels of children and pregnant women in urban environments, and workers in hazardous occupations. Subsequently, TGF hosted and organized a 3-day international conference on lead poisoning in February 1999 in Bangalore. The World Health Organization, the World Bank, the US Environmental Protection Agency, and the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were co-sponsors of the conference. These major initiatives led to the introduction of lead free gasoline throughout India in early 2000. The proceedings of the conference were compiled in a book, Lead Poisoning Prevention and Treatment: Implementing a National Program in Developing Countries. A white paper was prepared by the sponsors and presented to policy makers in developing countries.
The George Foundation and St. Johns Academy of Health Sciences, Bangalore, joined in association to establish the National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning Prevention in India (NRCLPI) in 2003. The Centre’s mission is to create public awareness about lead poisoning, assist polluting industries in taking remedial measures, and confirm blood lead cases forwarded by clinics/hospitals throughout the country.
The George Foundation has also set up a journalism college Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media (IIJNM). According to the TGF and websites, IIJNM was founded by TGF and Sri Adichunchanagiri Mahasamstana in 2001. The curriculum was developed in conjunction with Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in New York City, and the school does not seek any official accreditation. The courses are intended to teach both the craft and ethics of journalism, and provide practical training. TGF see the school as a way to improve public and private governance by encouraging a strong and independent press.
- Centres for Studies in Emerging Critical Issues
According to TGF's website, the centre brings together prominent individuals from India and elsewhere to consider the economic, social and environmental challenges facing developing nations. The centre presents the results as papers and lectures.
- Shanti Bhavan, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
- News an Events: Action Plan for Community Development, June 2006, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
- Poverty alleviation and women: Expectations, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- Tillany Museum, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- News and Events: Baldev Medical & Community Centre: July 2006, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 4, 2007.
- Lead Poisoning: Purpose and Significance of the Conference, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- Lead Poisoning: Project Lead-Free and Anemia Screening in India, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- About NRCLPI, National Referral Centre for Lead Poisoning Prevention in India. Retrieved August 5, 2007.
- Journalism, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007
- IIJNM Overview, Indian Institute of Journalism and New Media. Retrieved August 5, 2007
- Critical Issues, The George Foundation website. Retrieved August 5, 2007.