Tractus continues to give back as Managing Director John Evans joins the LPGM Board of Directors

April 29, 2021; Bangkok, Thailand—Tractus Co-Founder and Managing Director John Evans has been appointed to the Board of Directors of Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry (LPGM). LPGM is a philanthropic non-profit organization supporting marginalized students access education through partnerships in 12 countries including India, Guatemala, Tanzania, and the Central African Republic. They center their work based on the four pillars of Partnerships, Education, Empowerment, and Transformational Travel.

LPGM India Program Manager Elangovan Mu See with LPGM-sponsored students at their boarding school in Aalathi, Tamil Nadu.

In Tamil Nadu, India—where Tractus has been supporting students with school infrastructure and supplies for nearly 10 years—LPGM leads Project Education India, coordinating 1:1 sponsorships for disadvantaged students to receive financial and spiritual support for quality education in one of six boarding schools in partnership with the Arcot Lutheran Church (ALC). Since founding the program in 1996, LPGM has facilitated the education of 6,000 students through the support of 2,345 generous sponsors and supported 20,000 students with its English+ Program with the ALC.

It was through Project Education India that the Tractus-LPGM relationship first began decades back. Over 20 years ago in Minneapolis, Minnesota—where LPGM is headquartered and John grew up—John’s mother Beverly Evans was introduced to the program through her Lutheran church. She began sponsoring Tamil students, specifically girls, and continued to do so for the rest of her life, supporting their education and writing letters back and forth.

Fast forward to 2012, Tractus India based in Tamil Nadu partnered with LPGM-supported ALC schools for our Corporate Social Responsibility commitment. Over the past 9 years, we have donated school uniforms, sweaters, shoes, sports equipment, stationary, and construction materials to our partner schools. Based on need, we have constructed toilets, water sanitation systems, playground leveling, solar panels, and a multi-purpose hall. Together, Tractus along with the generosity of our clients, partners, and friends have given in-kind donations valuing over USD 100,000 to multiple schools in Tamil Nadu. The Evans family continues the legacy of Ms. Beverly Evans, currently supporting 4 LPGM girls.

Mr. Jerry Evans developing relationships with students at the Yercaud School in Tamil Nadu.

In 2015, John’s late father Jerry Lahti Evans traveled with his family and the rest of the Tractus team to the Tamil Lutheran Evangelical Church Primary School in Yercaud, Tamil Nadu for their annual donations and support. He was glowing with big smiles as he played with the kids, and was deeply moved by them. The children started calling him their tatta, or grandpa in Tamil, reciprocating his love.

Garden at the Yercaud School where students grow carrots, cabbage, radish, sandalwood, and more to provide for themselves and sell to the local market and restaurants.

This was an unforgettable experience and left Jerry craving to return to the school and live in town for a few months to be with the kids. They had recently started a sustainable garden at school to produce food for themselves and for the local market and restaurants; as a retired landscape architect, Mr. Jerry Evans was especially passionate about helping the students with this new venture. Unfortunately, his ill health prevented him from returning before his passing on August 23, 2018.

John, Kwan, and Aem Evans unveil the new dining hall for the Yercaud School with ALC Bishop and President Rt. Rev. V. Samuel Kennady and Correspondent and Manager Rev. S. Joshi Prathab.

Yercaud students had been lacking a multi-purpose hall for activities dining and had been using their classrooms for these needs instead. On February 23, 2020, Tractus, sponsors, and the Evans family and friends of Mr. Jerry Evans supported the construction of this hall in his memory, so that his passion could live on to support generations of students to come.

April 23, 2021 would have been Mr. Jerry Evans’ 80th birthday. John assumed the start of his three-year term on the Board of Directors of LPGM the day before, on April 22, 2021. As a Board Member, John brings to LPGM his 25 years of supporting companies and organizations in India as well as experience serving on the Boards of non-profits such as Princeton in Asia. John looks forward to adding value to LPGM’s development and fundraising structures by exploring new avenues for funding both within and outside of the Lutheran church to make their programs more sustainable and impactful. He brings his understanding of how to communicate and operate in Tamil Nadu to better structure a more equitable and effective partnership with the ALC.

John’s recent position as Chair of the Princeton in Asia Health, Safety, and Welfare Committee has exposed him to a number of issues in terms diversity, equity and inclusion such as harassment. “The problems that we’ve seen in Princeton in Asia pale in comparison to the issues in India caused by the long-term impacts of the ongoing caste system, the patriarchy, and other sources of inequity that impact LPGM-supported students,” said John. “I hope that I can bring value not only to address how to structure procedures and policies to deal with these issues, but also to help safeguard the health and welfare of the young girls in the program.”

Though different in their primary focus, LPGM’s and Tractus’ missions are intertwined. While Tractus is a secular organization, we are mixture of races, ethnicities, genders, religions, and spiritualties across our 60 staff in our 12 offices across Asia and the US. We share with LPGM a passion for helping children in the areas where we work to access education. Our CSR program has historically been about giving back to the communities in which we live and work by investing in local students and their education. Nowhere is this truer than in the schools we support in India, where the communities are some of the most marginalized. LPGM’s mission to look after and support especially young girls in Tamil Nadu is perfectly aligned with our goal to provide educational opportunities to empower students to get out of systematic discrimination. The majority of LPGM-ALC school students come from marginalized backgrounds such as Dalit caste communities, Adivasi communities (indigenous tribes), poor and illiterate families, and daily wage-reliant households.

Tractus team, partners, clients, and friends with the LPGM team and LPGM-sponsored students at their boarding school in Aalathi, Tamil Nadu.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, a large number of girls didn’t return to the LPGM-ALC boarding schools because they were married off, losing their long-term educational opportunities. “Those are the types of situations where we can help provide guidance from the Tractus perspective of strengthening education systems and understanding economic development in line with LPGM’s mission to help these marginalized communities thrive,” continued John. “I’m very excited and passionate about this role and the ability to not only support LPGM’s communities in India, but also transfer that knowledge and experience to LPGM’s communities in Latin America and Africa.”

If you would like to learn more about Lutheran Partners in Global Ministry and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of marginalized women and girls all over the world to access their education, click here.

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