UpakarIndian-American Scholarship Foundation

History of Upakar

Upakar was created in 1997 by a group of Indian American leaders from the Washington, DC area.  They saw the need of the Indian American student that was high achieving academically but needed the extra financial backing to manage their looming student loan debt.

The first scholarships were given out in 1999.  In order to promote the organization to students, Upakar affiliated with the College Board in 2001. The main objectives for affiliating with the College Board were to create a separate category for Indian Americans in the SAT scores, and to help educate high school counselors in areas with high numbers of Indian American students with middle and low income.

As the number of applications grew, so did our need for resources.  Students applying for scholarships meet minimum eligibility requirements (over 3.6 cumulative GPA and under $75,000 AGI), which has made our process of selecting 5 new Upakar scholars per year more difficult.  It has also required a high level of fundraising to properly support our Upakar scholars for their 4 years in college.

To help increase our donor base, board member Dr Anil Sharma invited well known Indian musicians to perform benefit concerts and help raise awareness of our cause.  The debut concert for Upakar was with Pt. Hariprasad Churasia in 2000. We have since hosted Pt. Shivkumar Sharma with Ust. Zakir Hussain twice, Pt Vishwa Mohan Bhatt, Pt Vijay Raghav Rao, Pt. Ronu Majumadar & Pt. Tarun Bhattacharya, Sandip Burman & friends, World Music concert with Dr. L Shankar, Gingger, Ust. Zakir Hussain & Siva Mani, Celestial Symphony with Pandit Chaurasia, George Brooks, Kai Eckhardt, Vijay Ghate, Steve Smith, Fareed Haque, Kaveri Agashe and Shyamala Rajender, three generations of Indian Violin with Dr. N Rajan, Dr. Sangeetha Shanakar & Nandini & Ragini Shankar.

In addition, Upakar has hosted an annual benefit Art Shows that feature the amazing work of local South Asian artists in the Washington DC area.

We are proud to have had such world-renowned artists affliliate themselves with the cause of Upakar and we hope to continue to hold events with artists and musicians in the future. We are in the process of creating regional chapters, and are planning to hold events such as these in other parts of the country.

Upakar has provided over $500,000 in scholarships to over 165 students from 28 states across the country. In addition to our scholarships, we provide mentorship to our scholars, which connects them to successful peers and mentors in the Indian American community who can help guide them through their education and career.

Please take a moment to learn more about our scholars and how you can help make a difference in the lives of more students across the country.