Sakhi developed the Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund in 2003, in memory of a Sakhi volunteer who passed away in the September 11th attacks in New York City.
This was our first direct grant for survivors of domestic violence, and it was aimed at providing grants of $1,000 to advance survivors’ education and goals for self-sufficiency.
Now, Sakhi is proud to announce that it has expanded the Swarna Fund in order to support more educational opportunities for a greater pool of survivors.
The maximum grant amount has been increased by 50% to $1,500 and now allows for some discretionary funding to help offset costs related to enabling economic empowerment, such as childcare and transportation.
Direct Services Director Sandeep Kaur Bathala spoke about the grant’s impact and enhancements. “Over the 7 grant cycles, we’ve disseminated 45 grants to 30 individuals. Twelve of these survivors have completed programs and 14 are employed,” she said, adding, “It’s exciting and will be even more so with these revised guidelines, which will enhance impact as funds can now go toward essential facets of economic empowerment like driving lessons and English as a Second Language courses as well.”
Sakhi will also expand the original ambition of the grant by exploring ways to include women who are interested in opening up small businesses.
The current Fall 2008 grant cycle has seen 12 applicants, and we are aiming to service 20 survivors with this grant in this fiscal year.
In improving the Swarna Fund, Sakhi hopes to continue honoring the memory of its passionate and dedicated volunteer, Swarna Chalasani, for years to come, while carrying her commitment to economic empowerment forward through this unique fund.
“We wanted to honor Swarna’s commitment to women’s self-sufficiency by generating a program she would have passionately supported,” Sakhi Executive Director Purvi Shah said. Drawing the connection between Swarna’s work in the past and Sakhi’s efforts in the present, Purvi continued, “Swarna, herself a hard-working immigrant, furthered women’s dreams by helping survivors get resources, like sewing machines, in order to achieve independent living and make real choices. This September I am amazed to be able to witness the impact of the fund and excited we have expanded it in concrete ways.”