Ashley Rosas, 30, has been working in the medical field since she graduated from high school. She wanted to go to nursing school, but as a mother of three, and with another on the way, she said she needed to find a path forward that would allow her the flexibility to balance family life and work.
Health information technology, which deals with hospital bill and insurance coding, would allow Rosas to work from home and still provide a stable future.
Through Capital IDEA — an Austin-based nonprofit that provides financial support and professional guidance to non-traditional students that want to move up in their career — she found a program that would allow her to study for a job in health IT.
With funding from the Hindu Charities for America, another nonprofit focused on providing financial support for education, the program would provide her with the financial means to do so.
Hindu Charities for America, founded in 2010, has worked to close the gaps in education by providing schooling needs and vocational scholarships to economically disadvantaged students, partnering with local school districts and programs like Capital IDEA.
Founder and President of Hindu Charities Harish Kotecha lives in Austin, and over the years has come to understand the homelessness and poverty the Austin community faces. He learned that some families can’t afford school supplies for their children, and many others don’t have the means to continue their education after high school.
Gulshan Singh, board director for communications for Hindu charities, said this is where the nonprofit has aimed to fill gaps.
The Hindu philosophy of serving other communities embraces the idea of the global village — meaning the whole universe is one connected family, Singh said. The group is focused on how to serve the Austin community and bridge the gap in education, a value shared by both Hindu and western cultures. She said several Indian Americans adopt this idea after immigrating to the United States as a symbol of gratitude.
“Almost 80% of Indian Americans who live (in the U.S.) are foreign-born,” Singh said. “They come here for good education or they want their kids to experience what a great education system has to offer, and (Hindu Charities) is something they can do to give back in the same way.”
Since 2010, Hindu Charities has donated $750,000 — toward student scholarships, school supplies, and its endowment fund — which has helped more than 11,000 students across Austin.
The Manor school district has partnered with Hindu Charities since 2012. Rebecca Lott, director of partners and wellness for the district, said that connection has meant being able to distribute at least 2,600 packets of school supplies to date, which includes crayons, pens, spirals, and notebook paper.
In 2014, the charity began funding vocational scholarships for Manor students, Lott said, and to date has awarded over $50,000.
“We are always grateful for the leadership of their team to help improve the lives of our scholars,” Lott said.
For Rosas, who is just two semesters away from completing her training, she said is grateful to have the opportunity to continue her education without the financial strain.
“Education is a huge cost by itself,” she said. “(This money) just eliminates that worry and stress of making payments, and now I can focus on the work.”
In the midst of a pandemic, Alok Singh, board director of strategy and corporate relations for Hindu Charities, said the group’s help has become even more urgently needed.
With schools shifting to online learning, Singh said the group wanted to ensure students who were learning from home don’t fall through the cracks.
The group awarded the Manor school district $18,500 for internet connection devices, which supported 176 students, Lott said.
Through this year’s virtual gala on Nov. 22, Hindu Charities was able to raise $115,000 that will be used for 115 student scholarships in the coming year.