An Overview of the Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund

Holding a bachelor of science in engineering from New York University’s Polytechnic Institute, Rao Chalasani has contributed his technical knowledge to such notable financial firms as JP Morgan Chase, Deutsche Bank, and Bank of America (BofA). The New Jersey resident maintains a commitment to philanthropy, supporting charities such as Doctors Without Borders and Childreach. In 2002, Rao Chalasani partnered with Sakhi for South Asian Women, an organization dedicated to ending domestic violence, to establish a scholarship in memory of his late sister, Swarna Chalasani.

Sakhi sponsors an Economic Empowerment Program to help survivors of domestic abuse achieve financial independence. The program helps prepare women for the workforce, offering ESL instruction, technology classes, and workshops on financial principles, entrepreneurship, and employee rights.

The Swarna Chalasani Economic Empowerment Fund is included within the Economic Empowerment Program. Created to honor Ms. Chalasani’s dedication to Sakhi and the empowerment of domestic violence survivors, the fund helps women reach both their academic and professional goals. Sakhi distributes an average of 20 awards of up to $1,500 during two yearly grant cycles. These provide financial aid for educational and vocational expenses such as tuition, books, and certification or licensing fees. The women benefitting from this support have gone on to complete bachelor’s and master’s degree programs in fields including computer science, social work, and biomedical engineering.

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The Search for Loved Ones after September 11th Attacks in New York

The former director of trading risk at Bank of America-Merrill Lynch in New York, Rao Chalasani led design strategy and developed global markets in that role. In September of 2001, a CNN interviewer spoke to Rao Chalasani about his missing sister.

In the days and weeks after the World Trade Center towers collapsed on September 11, loved ones searched for their family members and friends who were in the towers during the attacks. The cable news channel CNN set up a website for searching individuals to post pictures of those missing loved ones.

Sixteen days after the attacks, CNN featured Swarna Chalasani, a woman who worked at Fiduciary Trust on the 94th floor of Tower Two in the World Trade Center. Her brother described Swarna as a woman committed to her family, her friends, and her work. Only 33 years old, she excelled in her career and volunteered a great deal of personal time to Sakhi, an organization that serves South Asian women victimized by domestic violence.

The young woman’s brother offered prayers for all those who experienced loss on that terrible day. He expressed his deep regret that he was unable to communicate with his sister in those dark hours.