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May 24, 2012

N.Y. Charity Opens Doors for Needy South Asian Youths

A New York charity that serves disadvantaged children of South Asian descent—often the children of the city’s taxi drivers, newsstand workers, and food-cart vendors—is spotlighted by The New York Times.

South Asian Youth Action, which works in seven local schools and a Sikh temple, was started in 1996 by Sayu Bhojwani who wanted to offer resources for those kids. One in 20 New Yorkers between the ages of five and 19 are South Asian, according to Census figures, and a fourth of them live in poverty.

The charity, with headquarters in Queens, offers about a dozen services, including tutoring, leadership development, counseling, and a basketball program. All of those who have participated in Chalo College, which helps teenagers navigate the college-application process, have gone on to enroll at higher-education institution, says Udai Tambar, the charity’s executive director.

In total, the organization has served about 7,700 youths, including Khwaja Hassan, now 28, who began attending the center as a high-school student. The son of immigrants from Bangladesh who worked as cashiers, Mr. Hassan graduated from college, now earns a six-figure salary through his job as an account manager for Bloomberg, and supports his family, including his parents. He says, “When you get a taste of what is out there, which is what I got with SAYA, you get hungrier and hungrier, and right now, I am living in a dream.”