More than three decades ago, Suri and Edda Sehgal embarked on an ambitious mission to “strengthen community-led development initiatives to achieve positive social, economic, and environmental change across rural India.” Hopefully you are familiar with the remarkable work of S M Sehgal Foundation in India over the years, but since its founding in 1999 in Des Moines, Iowa, Sehgal Foundation in the US has also made its mark.
Sehgal Foundation’s approach stateside is in contrast to the hands-on, grassroots efforts of S M Sehgal Foundation in India. The mission is basically the same but, rather than direct project implementation, the US teams collaborate with other nonprofit institutions to support, strengthen, and expand their excellent work in the areas of sustainable agriculture, water resources, environmental and biodiversity conservation, and positive community development. Highlighted below are some of our initiatives and outstanding partner organizations here in the USA.
William L. Brown Center/Missouri Botanical Garden (St. Louis, Missouri)
World Food Prize Foundation (Des Moines, Iowa)
Suri Sehgal spent decades in the private-sector seed industry, where he witnessed firsthand the good and the bad sides of modern, large-scale, technology-based agriculture—it could (potentially) feed the world, but largely to the exclusion of poor, small-scale farmers, and often at the expense of soil health, water resources, and environmental sustainability. He initially envisioned his post-career philanthropy as a way to counteract such negative effects, and these two world-class institutions do just that.
At Missouri Botanical Garden, Sehgal Foundation established the William L. Brown Center in honor of Suri Sehgal’s longtime boss and mentor at Pioneer Seed Company in Des Moines. The Brown Center’s farsighted, globe-spanning mission is “the study of useful plants, understanding the relationships between humans, plants, and their environment, and the conservation of plant species and preservation of traditional knowledge for the benefit of future generations.”
The World Food Prize Foundation, whose annual award is known as the “Nobel Prize of food and agriculture,” recognizes impactful contributions to global food security and agricultural innovation, and also strives to inspire and support the next generation of food experts and environmental stewards through numerous youth initiatives, including an annual internship at S M Sehgal Foundation in India.
Reflecting Suri and Edda Sehgal’s deep belief in the power of educational opportunity and appreciation for the experiences of immigrants and refugees, Sehgal Foundation has partnered with these two Iowa-based organizations to help bridge the geographical and cultural gaps between people from different parts of the world.
Iowa International Center (Des Moines, Iowa)
University of Iowa (Iowa City, Iowa)
The Iowa International Center, founded in 1941 to help settle refugees from war-torn Europe, welcomes immigrants and other international visitors to Iowa and assists them in many ways. Sehgal Foundation’s partnership with the University of Iowa’s “Winterim” program works in the complementary direction, welcoming students from Iowa City to India for a unique study-abroad opportunity.
India Association of Minnesota (Minneapolis/St. Paul, Minnesota)
Sehgal Foundation is a proud partner and sponsor of the India Association of Minnesota (IAM) and its vibrant community of Asian Indians and others. Collaborations and shared projects with IAM partners, activists, and youth continue to make a positive difference in communities in the US and in rural India.
Local action, global impact
Sehgal Foundation contributes to several other local initiatives that, in spirit and impact, reverberate far beyond their limited scope and geographical boundaries. For example, the Alliance for the Great Lakes, based in Chicago, Illinois, aims to defend the magnificent and precious freshwater resources of the Great Lakes region against myriad exploitative interests, using a combination of research, education, and advocacy that can inform similar efforts elsewhere.
In southwest Florida, home to some of the richest biodiversity in the country, retired residents Suri and Edda Sehgal have embraced their civic duty in trying to confront rising sea levels, harmful algae blooms, and other environmental threats that are happening not just in southwest Florida but all over the world.
Sehgal Foundation strives to bring its mission of positive change to all of the many communities that we call home, whether in rural India or with our partners in the US. For more information, please contact us, or follow the links below to our partners’ websites.
William L. Brown Center
World Food Prize Foundation
University of Iowa Winterim Program
Iowa International Center
Alliance for the Great Lakes
India Association of Minnesota
Sehgal Foundation blogs