"Seva's efforts create hope and happiness worldwide for so many people in difficult conditions. I've always been amazed and cheered by their good works and I've been very happy to help them in their fundraising efforts."
Singer / Songwriter
“We've always admired Seva's focus on serving indigenous people in the U.S. and around the world. Seva knows how to work with communities in ways that truly benefit those in need. We are honored to be involved with their mission and look forward to contributing to their efforts for years to come."
Tea Leaf Green
“I congratulate Seva Foundation for the magnificent work they continue to do."
Legendary Folk Singer
“Seva has given so much help to so many thousands of people for so many years — such a wonderful example of love in action.”
Singer / Songwriter
"For 30 years Seva has made an extraordinary contribution to the world — not only through their
international programs, but here in some of the most impoverished communities in North America, on Native American reservations. Thank you Seva."
Singer / Songwriter
"Seva takes the impulse towards generosity and turns it into compassionate action that helps people in real need. I honor my friends and relations by giving to Seva in their name — the entire world benefits. I hope you'll join me."
Actor / Writer
"Compassion and caring for people in need - that's simply a moral necessity. But it's not
always easy to do. Seva makes it easy. They know how to put your donations to work in ways that truly benefit people."
Singer / Humanitarian Activist
"When we met the folks at Seva, we knew we were among kindred spirits, joining to bring people together in service to others. Whether preventing blindness in Nepal, assisting native peoples in Guatemala and Mexico, or helping our own Native Americans, Seva has been there to help alleviate suffering and improve people's lives. Long may they rock!"
The Grateful Dead
The Council on Foundations, a Washington, DC-based association of more than 2,000 grantmaking foundations and corporations, has chosen Seva Foundation as one of five organizations to receive a Critical Impact Award.
Seva is being honored for "revolutionizing the ability of community based eye care programs to restore eyesight for poor people affected by cataract blindness..." through our work in helping to create Aurolab, the manufacturing division of Aravind Eye Hospital, in Madurai, India.
Enhancing the Common Good
This is the inaugural year for the award, which was created to "recognize those who truly make a difference in their grantmaking while sharing with the public examples of how philanthropy seeks to enhance the common good."
In a statement announcing the winners, Steve Gunderson, President and CEO of the Council on Foundations, said, "These foundations have demonstrated the commitment and vision needed to address the important issues affecting society and are helping to advance the common good, not only in our local communities but throughout the world."
Aurolab: The Ultimate in "Sustainable Solutions"
Seva was the lead partner helping Aravind Eye Hospital in launching Aurolab during the early 1990s. In addition to $250,000 of start-up funds, Seva also provided technical expertise and operational support.
Seva worked with Aurolab in pioneering new methods of manufacturing high quality, low cost intraocular lenses (IOLs), which are essential to fully restore vision after cataract surgery. Previously, IOLs had been too expensive for use in public health eye care programs in developing countries.
Today, Aurolab IOLs sell for about $5 each, compared to $100 - $150 at typical market prices. These low-cost IOLs make it possible for millions of poor people around the world to enjoy excellent vision following cataract surgery.
"Back when we were getting started," Suzanne explains, "the prevailing opinion was that IOLs were too 'high tech' and required surgical techniques that couldn't be done affordably in developing countries. But our work with Aravind helped prove that IOLs were in fact viable and effective in public health settings. That changed everything, and opened the way to create Aurolab."
Aurolab continues to thrive, carrying on its own research and development work and selling a variety of medical products in most countries of the world. Although Aurolab no longer requires funding from Seva, there continues to be a rich collaboration through Seva volunteer advisers on marketing, new technologies and other needs.
"This is really a great example of what we mean when we talk about Seva building sustainable solutions," says Suzanne. "And it's a great example of how our network of Seva supporters can make a critical impact."
What Others Say
Here are excerpts from letters nominating Seva for the Critical Impact Award:
"Seva has been a pioneer in catalyzing an entirely new business model that combines access and equity with quality and cost efficiency. Seva is a testament to the catalytic role that foundations worldwide can have on supporting innovation and tolerating a level of risk that no business or government is willing to undertake."
Pamela Hartigan, Executive Director
Schwab Foundation for Social Entrepreneurship
"...one of the most important breakthroughs in international ophthalmology in recent decades."
Dr. Bruce Spivey, President
International Council of Ophthalmology
"The relationship between Seva and Aravind clearly goes far beyond the act of grantmaking and into the realm of true global partnership. This grant exemplifies the highest goals of poverty alleviation, improvement of public health, and development of a new paradigm for international collaboration and innovation."
Gregory Miller, Managing Director