FFE is the brainchild of Dr. Prabhu and Mrs. Poonam Goel. Dr. Prabhu Goel hails from a humble, middle-class family in Meerut, Uttar Pradesh. He went to IIT Kanpur for his undergraduate education; and subsequently in 1970, to Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburg, for graduate studies. Getting an opportunity to study at two of the best educational institutions in the world at that time is what spurred in him the desire to set up an organization like FEE. As his education itself had been possible thanks to friends/family who were willing to fund the same. This made him think about those who are bright and smart but didn’t have funds of their own nor well-wishers who could help them out financially.
After doing his Masters and PhD in Carnegie Mellon, Dr. Goel went on to work for IBM for 8 years. Post-IBM, he did a year-long stint at Wang Laboratories in Massachusetts. Then, in 1982, he setup Gateway Design Automation – an electronic design automation company in Boston. It was the acquisition of this company by Cadence Design Systems in 1989 that triggered off FFE or at least the idea of the same. Says Dr. Goel, “At that point of time, we had come upon a reasonable amount of wealth, and my wife and I felt it was important to do something for others as well; simply because it’s not enough being happy doing things for yourself.”
From less than a hundred in year 1995 to 11,888 in 2012, the growth story of FFE continues. And what keeps the Goels going? “There’s much more happiness and joy in giving than there is in consuming. And everytime we have given, we have experienced that. And that is what drives our ability to give and our motivation to give.” He continues, “Many of those kids have graduated. And some of those kids have on their own come for graduate studies to the US – some at Stanford, University of Illinois in Arizona, and others. So, it’s very, very satisfying to see that happen.”