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The Journals are the premier publications for high-quality, hyperlocal news and advertising in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Jan 16, 2021

Holmdel-Based Nonprofit Led by Students Reducing Pharmaceutical Waste

By Shanna O'Mara

Each year, billions of dollars’ worth of medication goes unused and must be destroyed by the very companies that manufacture these products – products that could, instead, be donated to those in need. Having heard of this issue and with an unwavering philanthropic spirit, three local students vowed to bridge the gap between pharmaceutical corporations and charitable organizations. Holmdel residents Sourish Jasti, Shreya Kavuru and Rahul Kavuru came together in March to brainstorm a solution.

Jasti, a freshman at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, said, “We were having dinner – me, Rahul and Shreya – and we were discussing some of these problems with their parents who work in the industry, and they were telling us about how all this medication is wasted. Initially we didn’t think about it at the scale we are doing it at right now. We thought a lot smaller in terms of one company has a certain amount of product. Why don’t we try to donate that over to an organization?”

The three created the Altrui Foundation, a nonprofit incorporated in April. Under that umbrella is Altrui Rx, which acts as a conduit between pharmaceutical manufacturers and charities in order to redistribute medications that would be otherwise destroyed.

“The industry has been operating a certain way for decades now, and even before the internet, this type of thing was happening at a much smaller scale with those one-to-one connections,” Jasti said. “We facilitate directly from a manufacturer’s warehouse to a charitable organization’s warehouse. From there, we’ve been able to keep it growing. We bring on another manufacturer, and whoever they’re working with, now we can work with those organizations. It’s a business model of acquisition but helpful acquisition.”

Since its genesis, Altrui Rx has redirected 491,429 units of medication worth about $12,285,213 to communities in need.

The Altrui Foundation team has also grown, as the three co-founders “wanted to bring on a group of students who had the same mindset of really trying to impact the world positively,” Rahul Kavuru, a junior at St. Paul’s School, said. “We increased the size of our team from around five people in the beginning to around 15 where it is now.”

The team comprises young people from the founders’ personal networks, many now in their first and second year of college, as well as students from Holmdel High School whose talents matched the mission of the foundation. Those involved are Justin Zhang, Maxime Lahlou, Swathi Pavuluri, Megan Yu, Tiffany Sui, Jospeh Kakkis, Daniel Yuan, Neha Jampala, Connie Wang, Evan Smith and Amit Kallakuri.

Throughout the summer and as the foundation really began to take shape, St. Paul’s School senior Shreya Kavuru said she and her co-founders realized they wanted to branch out and help their community in another way. Because their team consists of high school upperclassmen and college students now around the country, they offer a unique service to those stressing over college applications, essay writing, resume building and more. In August, Altrui Education was established, providing college counseling services to disadvantaged students. Using an algorithm to match mentors and mentees based on interests and career aspirations, the Altrui team is able to pair link-minded individuals to ease the transition to higher education.

“These mentors are a group of students we put together based on their achievements,” Shreya said. “It’s a strong group of college students who are willing to share their experiences and skills with these high school seniors.”

Rahul added, “We knew such a successful group of college mentors, many who graduated from Holmdel, and we wanted to help those in underserved communities who might want assistance in the college application process. We started reaching out to organizations, and right now we’ve been able to connect around 16 mentors with around 10 mentees.”

Through both initiatives, Altrui team members have been able to positively impact their community and the world, and with just a few months under their belt, they’re just getting started.

To learn more about Altrui Rx and Altrui Education, email altruifoundation@gmail.com or visit AltruiFoundation.org. Follow the team on Instagram @altruifoundation.