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The Deshpande Foundation is the family foundation of Gururaj ("Desh") and Jaishree Deshpande. Founded in 1996, it is a leading philanthropic foundation in Massachusetts, Canada and India in the areas of innovation, entrepreneurship and international development. The Foundation takes a hands-on approach with its grant partners to help them achieve their objectives, grow their organizations and become the change agents that they strive to be. We look for the following qualities in our partners:
• An innovative idea that is simple but powerful in its potential. We develop partnerships with innovative leaders, with a new idea, product or service that can potentially benefit millions of people and change entire industries. • An entrepreneur who is strong and passionate about the idea. We believe that in the long term, a region will thrive as long as it has a vibrant base of budding entrepreneurs. The Foundation strives to create such an environment in the places it operates. • A scalable solution with the potential to impact millions of lives. We focus on helping the best ideas, researchers, entrepreneurs and organizations to scale up their activities to rapidly increase their reach.
In India, we work largely in the "Sandbox," which is a geographically defined area of Northwestern Karnataka. As a grant-making organization, the Foundation funds projects in four major areas:
Agriculture: Focus areas include crop cultivation techniques, irrigation, soil remediation, and farmer education. We seek agricultural and environmental sustainability. Education: Our education partners work on developing experiential learning, internet connectivity and training, teacher training, education for disabled children, civic awareness, English language training, and scholarship programs. Health: Focus areas include school lunch programs, community based rehabilitation, medical waste reduction, prosthetic limbs, health education and training, nutrition, educational entertainment, and orphan rescue programs. Microcredit / Livelihoods: Focus areas include entrepreneurial training, women's training programs, watershed restoration programs, recycling, and jaggery production.
The Foundation has launched an initiative in the Merrimack Valley region of Massachusetts. The objective of this "Sandbox Initiative" is to help the cities of the Merrimack Valley as they transition from the industrial economy into the New Economy. This will include supporting innovation by individuals, institutions, non-profits, companies and entrepreneurs to address the challenges of the region. It will also include identifying and empowering a large number of leaders who are dedicated to the welfare and development of the region.
The foundation seeks to transform the region into a place where entrepreneurs and civic leaders are rapidly identifying solutions to local problems and implementing them for the benefit of their communities and society at large.