In the Fall of 2015, New York University received a $100 million gift from Ranjan and Chandrika Tandon in support of engineering. NYU's Polytechnic School of Engineering was renamed the NYU Tandon School of Engineering in honor of the grant, believed to be the largest by a member of the Indian-American community. Tandon received a degree in chemical engineering from Indian Institute of Technology in Kanpur, India, as well as a degree from Harvard Business School. He worked in several manufacturing and operations positions before moving into the investment world, and in 1990, he founded found hedge fund Libra Advisors.
Chandrika, meanwhile, armed with degrees from two Indian schools, was once a partner at McKinsey & Co., and founded Tandon Capital Associates. Wearing another hat, Chandrika is also an acclaimed musician and composer, who was nominated for a Grammy; her current music involves centuries-old Sanskrit chants and syllables, and traditional melodies.
The Tandon's rich personal and professional backgrounds are reflected in their philanthropy, strongly supporting higher education, the arts and the Indian community. Accessing the outfit may take some doing: Their Krishnamurthy Tandon Foundation has a limited web presence, and doesn't accept unsolicited proposals. The couple's education philanthropy favors schools with which the family has a personal connection and/or board membership. Apart from NYU, where Chandrika is a trustee and a member of the board of overseers of the business school, the couple has also recently given at least $1.5 million to Yale, where the couple's daughter graduated. The family has made leadership gifts to both Yale and Harvard Business School.
Internationally, the Tandons have funded Madras Christian College, Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad, and Oxford Center for Hindu Studies. Back stateside, they've recently supported Brearley School, Teach for America, Teach for All, and Berklee College of Music.
In the arts, Ranjan and Chandrika have recently supported Indo-American Arts Council, a "nonprofit cultural organization that promotes Indian theater, art, film, fashion, music, dance and literature," Jiva Performing Arts, the Smithsonian Institution, and World Music Institute. It's worth noting that Chandrika has performed at the Smithsonian in conjunction with the museum's first yoga art museum. Spirituality and wellness is of interest to this funder.
The couple also makes grants that support the Indian community around the world. Recent grantees include Hindu American Foundation; Asian Youth Action; Arsha Vidya Gurukulam, "an institute for the traditional study of Advaita Vedanta, Sanskrit, Yoga, Ayurveda, astrology, and other classical Indian disciplines"; Staten Island Hindu Temple; and AIM (All India Movement) for Seva, an NGO founded to help rural Indian students.
While this foundation isn't particularly accessible, those working in its unique interest areas should keep this wealthy couple on their radars.
Related: Ranjan Tandon