About the Organization
How many employees does OSAAT have?OSAAT is not a facility-based organization, and as such does not have any employees. It is run entirely by a core committee of volunteers who meet, plan and execute all functions necessary. Other volunteers support the organization during events and various phases of a project, be it a site-visit to check the progress of a project or a meeting with the chosen school.
Is OSAAT trademarked and registered as non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation?In the USA, OSAAT is a registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, tax Id: 20 2043649.
OSAAT trademark is registered with US Patent office bearing serial number: 85121815.
Here is the OSAAT Trademark Statement of Use
OSAAT Educational Charitable Trust (herein after referred to as OSAAT (India), was incorporated in 2012 with the sole objective of working with OSAAT (USA) for the smooth execution of school building construction/renovation projects being funded by the latter. OSAAT (India) was granted charitable status (80G) in 2015.
How many volunteers do you have in OSAAT(India) and what do they do?We have many dedicated volunteers in India and the number keeps increasing. They play an active role in being our eyes and ears before, during and after a school is chosen. They meet with the school’s board and/or staff, check the physical and financial conditions of the school, verify that the information provided by the school to us in the Request for Proposal (RFP) is accurate, develop partnerships with other charitable organizations in India, and also monitor the progress of the reconstruction from start to finish.
Does OSAAT collaborate with other organizations (educational or cultural) and NGOs (eg: Rotary Club)?Most certainly. We believe that all individuals and organizations with a passion to make a difference are great partners. Their skills and strengths compliment ours and help in our mission. As an example, from to time we leverage the volunteer base of other organizations, and vice versa. Networking with NGOs like Rotary Club allows us to execute our projects much more efficiently without interference from local city or state governments.
Why is OSAAT doing this?OSAAT’s work needs to be understood in terms of the fundamental issue of education of underprivileged kids in rural India. Most rural schools are in a state of utter disrepair, having been built many years ago. The “school” typically is an old, decaying structure with crumbling walls, collapsed roof, dangerous and hazardous to the health of the kids. Lacking even the most basic amenities such as clean drinking water and toilets, the school cannot provide an environment for the kids to learn and thrive. The poverty-stricken parents and the local community are both helpless, and the kids are vulnerable to be pulled out of school and exploited as child laborers. Lack of toilets for girls is especially terrifying to parents, and a key reason to stop sending them to school.
India is the largest democracy on earth with over 1 billion people. A significant percentage of this population is rural, spread across many states, many languages and many socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The needs of the poorest of the poor are many, and varied – education, employment, housing, and healthcare, to name a few. No single organization is large enough or diverse enough to serve them all. Children’s education is so important that they need a helping hand to stop the vicious cycle of poverty and illiteracy. Their needs can only be served with many helping hands and by employing many creative solutions. OSAAT is proud to be one such helping hand and one such creative solution.
Are there other non-profits doing the same thing? If not, why not?Infrastructure rebuilding is capital intensive and manpower intensive. As a result, most charitable organizations hesitate to take on the task of rebuilding schools. OSAAT’s organization structure and method of operation are quite distinct. By putting rigorous processes in place, OSAAT keeps its administrative costs down to an absolute minimum while maximizing volunteers’ time and talent.
Why OSAAT? Aren’t there other non-profits doing the same thing?It is very simple. India is the largest democracy on earth with over 1 billion people. A significant percentage of this population is rural, spread across many states, many languages and many socio-economic, ethnic and cultural backgrounds. The needs of schools serving this population are varied and no single organization is large enough or diverse enough to serve them all. Their needs can only be served with many helping hands and by employing many creative solutions. OSAAT is one such helping hand and one such creative solution. While OSAAT’s mission and goals may be common with other organizations doing similar work, OSAAT’s organization structure and method of operation are quite distinct.
Can you explain the key functions and procedures OSAAT has in place?
RFP submission:First and foremost, the schools need to be aware of OSAAT and its processes. OSAAT (India) volunteers spread the word using all means possible (print, facebook and other social media, friends and family, partner organizations). When a school requires help, a formal Request for Proposal (RFP) must be submitted by the school. Many times, a needy school may not have the proper knowledge or resources to put together the RFP. Even language and expression may be barriers for RFP submission. The RFP being a critical starting point, OSAAT (India) volunteers help the school get started.
RFP analysis:Once the RFP is submitted, a thorough review is conducted by the OSAAT team to determine the eligibility of the school for adoption.
Site visit and assessment of needs:OSAAT (India) volunteers go to the physical site and meet with school officials, staff, community leaders, parents, and any others that will help determine the eligibility of the school and the eventual sustainability of the project. Multiple visits and meetings are conducted as needed. All visits are documented with pictures and meeting minutes for the entire team to see. The entire team votes to make the “Go” or “No Go” decision, along with how much OSAAT’s contribution will be – for example, the number of classrooms, toilets, whether to improve existing structure or demolish and rebuild.
Consultation and Budgeting:The project needs are discussed with architects and/or building contractors to get an estimate of what infrastructure improvements are feasible, funds required, time frame from start to finish. The team votes again to finalize the budget and formulate the timeframe.
Memorandum of Understanding (MOU):Once a project is decided as “Go”, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is created. The MOU identifies exactly what OSAAT is willing to commit in terms of infrastructure improvements and what OSAAT’s expectations are from the school. The MOU is signed by OSAAT and the school authority.
Funding the project:Since funds are being received from OSAAT (USA), OSAAT (India) identifies an NGO which has FCRA clearance. OSAAT (India) signs the MOU with that NGO to assist OSAAT (India) in completing the school construction project. The MOU clearly documents the amount, responsibilities and processes that need to be followed by the NGO in completing the project.
Obtaining clearance:OSAAT (India) volunteers work with Local and Central Government authorities for any clearance needed, by meeting with them, submitting all documentation according to their requirements, and obtaining the necessary permits and green signal for the project. school construction project. MOU will clearly mention the amount, responsibilities and process that need to be followed by the NGO in completing the project.
FundraisingOSAAT (India) has obtained IT-80(G) exemption status and is raising funds in India through individual and corporate donations. Prior to 2012, OSAAT (India) could not accept cash donations in India or reimburse any local service provider. Since obtaining the 80G status in 2012, OSAAT (India) is able to raise funds. Fundraising efforts include both private and corporate donations (Corporate Social Responsibility – CSR – grants).
Developing partnerships:Partnering with like-minded NGOs is beneficial on multiple levels. Partners contribute their expertise and resources in areas where OSAAT volunteers may need help. As an example, a partner NGO may be able to procure the services of an architect or a building materials supplier more cost effectively either as donation or at reduced cost. Partners may help in navigating the process of getting clearance from Government authorities. OSAAT (India) volunteers build and maintain partner relationships. Formal partnership agreements are entered into, and responsibilities are clearly defined.
OSAAT (USA) compliments OSAAT (India)’s efforts by playing a critical role in several aspects that are related to the organization as well as projects. The following is a list of key functions and procedures followed. While all of them are followed with due diligence, the order in which they are carried out depends. Most tasks are run in parallel where necessary for efficiency.
Definition and documentation of processes:There are specific processes to follow for everything OSAAT does. Whether it has to do with selecting a project or allocating funds, the processes are designed to achieve optimal results with absolutely minimal administrative costs.
Project related tasks:The OSAAT (USA) team meets on a regular basis and participates in all critical tasks of a project:
Fundraising:One of the major tasks OSAAT (USA) is responsible for is fundraising. OSAAT (USA) volunteers deploy innovative ways to raise funds as follows.
Fund transfer:A critical function of OSAAT (USA) is transfer of funds from USA to India. Given that donors demand accountability, the process of fund transfer is conducted with extreme diligence. OSAAT (USA) constantly interacts with OSAAT (India) to ensure there is no unnecessary spending of any kind. Any unforeseen circumstances requiring funds in excess of what is approved for a specific project by the team need to be justified with complete details as to what, how, where, why and when. All deviations are evaluated thoroughly to ensure the donations are used only for the purpose they were intended for.
Marketing and PR:
Does OSAAT only help schools in Karnataka?OSAAT is a young organization and was started in 2003 by a few like-minded philanthropists originally from Karnataka, living in the San Francisco Bay area. What started as a private effort on their part to help some of the needy schools in rural Karnataka resulted in many more people getting interested, and ultimately in the formation of OSAAT. There are no restrictions as to the physical location of schools.
How do I know that my donation will go towards a deserving school?OSAAT has designed a very extensive Request for Proposals (RFP) process. Anyone can nominate a school and any school can submit an RFP. Depending upon the information provided to us in the RFP, we will initiate a fact-finding mission and verify all the facts. There are a number of other factors we investigate as well, such as how many kids are being served by the school, what, if any, is the impact if the school cannot be helped, how motivated the school staff is, what kind of support is available from different sources to sustain the school, etc. We ensure that the school has no political or religious affiliations that conflict with OSAAT’s mission and objectives. The same applies to any partner organization we choose to work with. In addition, no one in the partner organization can have any vested interest, be it for financial gain or fame and publicity. We are very focussed on the needs of the school and the kids served by the school. You can rest assured that the school we choose is very well deserving of your support. We post the financial details of every project on our website so that our patrons and supporters can see exactly where their donations are going. One key factor that is worth your attention is that there is absolutely minimal OSAAT administrative cost, to cover fundraising and marketing expenses, thanks to dedicated, talented volunteers.
What is OSAAT’s position on the use of eco-friendly construction materials?OSAAT is very much supportive of the use of eco-friendly materials wherever possible. Many of the architects and contractors that have worked with us in the recent years have been quite innovative in this regard. A few examples are as follows.
- Benkipura school utilized PUF panels for its energy efficiency and easier maintenance. The school was also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system to store and reuse rainwater for toilets and the various plants and trees on premises.
- Malur school utilized “Porotherm” bricks for energy efficiency and durability. The bricks have a beautiful finish so the walls do not need any additional painting.
- Rampura school was built with bricks sourced locally from the area. The bricks were deemed most ideal for the local weather conditions and did not need any coat of paint. The school was also equipped with a rainwater harvesting system to store and reuse rainwater for toilets and the various plants and trees on premises.
- Gayatri Devi high school in Gaini village, Uttar Pradesh, was built with locally sourced materials that were deemed the most suitable for the weather conditions.
What is FCRA clearance? Why is it an important achievement for OSAAT?For any nonprofit organization operating in India, compliance with the “Foreign Currency Regulation Act” (FCRA) is mandatory to be able to receive funds from foreign countries. FCRA clearance is mandated by the Government of India and is granted after years of scrutiny into an institution’s financial records and adherence to its state mission. OSAAT received the FCRA clearance in May 2019.
FCRA clearance is an important achievement for OSAAT because of the following:
- The time from 2003 to 2019 is significant in terms of the number of projects we have completed successfully. USA being a significant source of funds, for every project, we needed to partner with a credible organization that could help us receive and disburse funds from donors in the US.
- Accountability and transparency of operation of all the processes, not just the financial management, is something we value highly. Our donors have supported us since 2003 and we have continued to make steady progress in attracting new donors and volunteers since then for these very reasons. Our track record is what got us the FCRA clearance.
- Just getting the FCRA clearance is not enough. We have the responsibility of maintaining it forever. Since we have been doing the right thing from day one, we are able to assure our supporters that it has been simply built into everything we do.
How do I donate money to OSAAT?You can donate by sending a check payable to the address listed in donation page. Fundraising is a constant, continuous effort to help needy schools. You can donate to OSAAT anytime, any amount. Whether you are a private individual or a corporation or a group of friends, you have several options as follows:
Adopt an entire project through our “Adopt a School” program. You can fund the entire amount for a school of your choice from the list of schools OSAAt has screened through the “Request for Proposals” process.
Donate funds for specific portions of a school project – For example, if a school needs 4 classrooms and a library, you can fund for the construction of 1, 2, or 3 rooms or a library or any combination thereof.
Donate as much as you want, towards any school project in OSAAT’s list. Any amount is very welcome! You can donate online, anytime. In the USA, you can donate by sending a check payable to the address listed in the donation page. In India, please contact email@example.com for details.
You can sponsor any of our fundraising events. Sponsorship details are published with each event.
Can I get tax exemption for my donation?Yes. In the USA, OSAAT is a registered non-profit 501 (c) (3) corporation, tax Id: 20 2043649. You can claim tax exemption in accordance with the applicable IRS guidelines. Donors contributing $500 or more will receive an official thank you letter from us. In India, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org for details.
Can I donate money in installments through my bank account or credit card?At the moment, we do not support such automatic withdrawals from bank accounts or credit cards. We will have that capability in the near future, and will incorporate it on our website.
Do you accept any other in-kind contributions such as cars, books or furniture?At the moment, we accept monetary contributions only, in the form of cash or check payable to OSAAT.
Can I donate in-kind gifts directly to a school you have chosen?With Bajegoli primary school, our maiden project, we witnessed a generous outpouring of support from the local community. Donations such as lumber and other building materials were very welcome and put to good use. Depending upon the needs of schools, other practical donations such as benches, tables, chalkboards, pots and pans, water storage tanks, etc., would also be welcome. Since there is no physical facility in the USA or India for us to collect and process in-kind donations, they may be accepted at the actual project site as needed and as deemed necessary and practical. Please contact us if you would like to make such donations.
Do you have any tips for taxpayers making charitable contributions for OSAAT?In the USA, taxpayers who donate to charities may be entitled to take a charitable deduction on their individual income tax return. Here are the top 10 things the IRS wants every taxpayer to know before deducting charitable donations. In India, please contact email@example.com for details.
What kind of Return on Investment (ROI) can I expect from my donation to OSAAT?We are truly appreciative of the donations we receive and we fully understand this question about ROI. We see value in helping a child beyond the basic needs of food and shelter. From that perspective, the ROI is in terms of the following:
- We see value in elevating a child’s quality of life beyond the basic needs. There are a number of nonprofit organizations that are involved in the priceless work of feeding the hungry. All over the world we see refugees that languish in camps where their basic needs are taken care of. But, this is where the quality of life question comes. Basic needs are necessary for sustaining life. However, quality of life is also just as important. Education can play a big role in that by providing opportunities to be a productive person and attain fulfillment in ways beyond just survival.
- Education enables an individual to choose a job opportunity or a career that makes for a better living financially. As an example, a college graduate may be employed by a Bank or a financial institution to handle day to day financial transactions with the public. A high school graduate will not qualify for such a job. Simply put, a child in rural India gets a chance to escape the vicious cycle of illiteracy, poverty and child labor, when given an opportunity to get an education.
- In an environment where girls are considered a burden instead of an asset, any excuse to pull the girls out of school is considered justifiable. Lack of proper sanitation facilities is a major roadblock for girls in rural areas. A school building that is safe and well equipped with sanitation facilities attracts girls in rural areas in significant numbers. An educated girl can reach for a better career and a better life than she would without an education.
- Whether it is knowledge about how to repair an appliance needed at home or a build a mechanism to irrigate the field, a person’s ability to solve problems will improve with education. The thoughts and actions of an educated person improve with education, and he/she is bound to reach newer heights that will benefit their family, community and the country as a whole.
- Generally speaking, education makes a person better aware of the world around him/her in terms of how it works, whether it is civic sense or politics or the issues that matter for the betterment of themselves or the community.
I do not live in the San Francisco Bay area but would like to get involved. How can I help?
All you need to get involved is interest, enthusiasm and willingness. You can help us in any of the following ways:
Can kids help in any way?Kids can help us in many ways! OSAAT’s “Yuva Shakti” (YUVA = Youth Uncovering Values through Action) team was founded in 2013 by a bunch of enthusiastic, highly motivated kids ranging in age from 8-16. The following are examples of what they do:
We appreciate the values these kids are discovering – empathy for their counterparts in India, caring and sharing – along with the joy of friendship and teamwork with their fellow team members.