As support for the Fortune Fund has grown, founder Day Veerlapati decided to expand the charity from its focus on India to rural schools in the US. He became aware of Bevier High School through a family connection and learned that less than 10% of the graduates enrolled in a 4-year college, through a research report done by the school’s students.
Day learned that one of the reasons so few students matriculate to college is the lack of high-speed internet access. In rural Missouri, many of the students live outside of town and many families are farmers. And while these students do have smartphones and access to internet at school, they must turn in their cell phones while attending classes. In order to help them get more reliable access to internet at home, Day collaborated with the St Louis Business Club to reach out to SpaceX and was able to get a StarLink satellite set up for the area.
During Day’s first visit, he met with 145 students from both the high school and middle school. Day discussed the importance of STEM courses and all the different fields that fall under the umbrella of engineering before moving on to discuss Elon Musk, Tesla, and SpaceX. He also used his Tesla car to show off some of the advancements made in engineering and demoed its many features on a class-by-class basis. Day made a point of encouraging the students to participate in higher education in order to be better prepared to make the most of their opportunities, whether it be in engineering, business, agriculture, or any other field of interest.
On his second visit he met specifically with the junior and senior classes. While he was speaking to them, he asked who is a person that inspires them. Initially, no one spoke, until one girl stood up and said that her therapist inspired her and that she would like to become a therapist herself to help people. After that some other students spoke up and said that they had no one to inspire them and they were left to find inspiration within themselves.
- In 2021, just 2 students enrolled in college, one of them received a scholarship from the Fortune Fund.
- In 2022, 4 students went on to college, 3 of them on scholarships.