A Leap Ahead

The One Jump Founders, from left: Neeraj Salhotra, Juanita Parra, Karthik Soora, and Shiroy Aspandiar

The One Jump Founders, from left: Neeraj Salhotra, Juanita Parra, Karthik Soora, and Shiroy Aspandiar

By Poonam Agrawal

HOUSTON: Indian-Americans rank at the top of “highest household income by ethnic group,” according to the United States Census Bureau. At a staggering $107,390 median household income level, Indian-Americans blow away the rest of the world by being the only ethnic group to even land in the six figures. So why is it that the richest Americans have started making fewer charitable contributions than their less wealthy counterparts?

UC Berkeley psychologist Paul Piff says, “While having money doesn’t necessarily make anybody anything, the rich are way more likely to prioritize their own self-interests above the interests of other people.” Stacy Palmer, editor of the Chronicle of Philanthropy agrees. “Higher-income people tend to give proportionately less during tough economic times.” But the time has come to change this mindset.

One Jump, a Houston nonprofit formed by a group of Rice graduates, is doing just that. Offering a one stop shop website for high-achieving, low-income students, One Jump is opening a world of opportunity to finally close the achievement gap in the United States. Among the leaders of the team are Karthik Soora, current Yale MBA student, Shiroy Aspandiar, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Neeraj Salhotra, Harvard Law School. Although the three bring with them a long list of accomplishments, each would say without hesitation that their proudest achievement to date has been the founding of One Jump. “We are the wealthiest group in the country, and this country has given to so many so much opportunity. With this power comes the moral imperative to give back,” says Soora.

One Jump was born out of Rice University’s Startup Accelerator Owlspark as the only nonprofit selected out of a very competitive applicant pool. In 2015, it was selected as a finalist for Teach For America Social Innovation Award, TFA Shark Tank, and Notre Dame’s Zielsdorf Social Impact Pitch Conference. After forging strategic partnerships with KIPP, YES Prep, EMERGE, Fort Bend ISD, Harmony, and Cristo Rey, One Jump dramatically grew its student user base to over 2,500 registered students in over 164 schools in 23 states.  

With this new venture, the One Jump team hopes to spread their message of equality in opportunity across Houston. The three South Asians are now urging more Indians to join the cause and help low-income students make the leap to college.

“Real enlightenment lies in giving up the material possessions of this world,” Soora explains, passionately. “Preaching piously on piles of money is doing a disservice to our philosophy.”

To see how you can help, visit www.onejump.org.