Praneeth Alla, 16, of Exton, Pa., a junior at The Episcopal Academy, spent more than 1,500 hours creating a product for a nonprofit benefiting rural villages in India, improving its ability to collect and manage donations, publicize projects and track income and expenditures. He also founded a network of youth clubs to raise money to improve the education of children in India. When Praneeth was a child, his father told him stories about growing up poor in the countryside of India. “He recounted the difficulties in receiving a quality education, the insufficient health conditions, and the limited amount of opportunities,” said Praneeth. In 2015, Praneeth traveled to India to see for himself. While observing dire conditions of poverty, he also was impressed with the work of the District NRI Foundation, which seeks to improve education, develop rural villages and provide people with basic necessities. After speaking with its leaders, he learned that they badly needed a user-friendly website to raise funds and awareness.
Praneeth returned home determined to design such a tool for them. Using his computer coding skills, he created an all-in-one software product that allows website users to track NRI projects, donate through PayPal, and see exactly how their donations are being used. The site so far has helped the District NRI Foundation raise more than $250,000, and is now being used by another Indian nonprofit to collect food for food banks. To get other students involved, Praneeth organized NRI Youth Clubs in the U.S., mobilizing high schoolers to participate in projects benefiting both their local communities and rural villages in India. There are now 25 of these clubs operating in several states. The youth clubs in Praneeth’s area alone have donated 55,000 pounds of food to the local community, and have made donations to India that include 100 prosthetic limbs, 100 television sets and 44 wheelchairs.