New York, NY — TechRow Fund, a nonprofit organization providing immersive technology education programs to New York City students, hosted its first gala on Thursday, November 29 at the India House, a designated New York City landmark.
The sold out event celebrated the work of the organization by bringing together donors, partners, NGO and government officials. Professionals from the arts, banking and technology sectors who were interested in the organization’s mission were also in attendance.
“The purpose of this gala was to raise awareness of our organization in a unique forum,” said Travis Feldler, founder of TechRow Fund. “We were able to leverage the importance of virtual reality, diplomacy and connectivity not just in New York City, but also the world.”
Techrow Fund’s first gala is a celebration of the organization’s dedication to integrating technology and literacy through day and afterschool programs at schools through Harlem and the South Bronx. In one of its first organizational initiatives, Techrow Fund provided virtual reality headsets to educators and students highlighting Cuban history. Students were able to learn about Cuba’s connection to the TransAtlantic Slave Trade, the impact of African culture on the formation of Cuban society and the role of dance in Cuban storytelling.
The Gala theme – titled, Let’s Celebrate Cuba! Brought into focus this initiative around immersive storytelling while celebrating the country’s recent advancements in connectivity and coming online. The evening gala was structured in two parts.
A panel discussion titled “Crossing Virtual and Real Bridges” was moderated by Cindy Lawrence, CEO of the National Museum of Mathematics. Panelists included writer and director, Benjamin Dickinson; Brett Perlmutter, Head of Google Cuba; Richard Cumming, founder of Two Goats; as well as Leire Fernandez and Idania Del Rio, founders of Clandestina, a Havana-based, independent design company and the first Cuban business to launch an online shop.
The panel culminated in the opportunity for gala attendees to participate in a screening of the virtual reality film “Nuestro Martí” which was introduced by Brett Perlmutter of Google Cuba and co-produced by Cuba’s Oficina del Historiador del la Ciudad de la Habana. The film traces the life of Cuban national hero Jose Martí throughout his experience both in Cuba and in New York City. The film was launched in Havana by Perlmutter in 2017 which allowed Cuban school children to retrace their national hero’s steps and embark on the sacred pilgrimage without leaving the island.The experience helped attendees understand the work TechRow Fund performs using Virtual Reality in programs in New York City schools located in Harlem and the South Bronx.
“As an organization, one of our biggest pushes is in leveraging the power of connectivity to bridge cultures and promote global awareness in education through virtual reality,” Feldler said in his welcoming address. “We really hit many points with the Cuban experience, connectivity being the center of gravity that brought it all together.”
The second portion of the evening featured a formal dinner and a welcoming address by Feldler.
The evening’s keynote speaker was United States Ambassador Jeffrey DeLaurentis, former Charge D’Affaires at the American Embassy in Cuba. The evening’s honorees included Brett Perlmutter, Head of Google Cuba at Google, Inc; Rodolfito Rothschild, founder of the Nonprofit Summit and Cindy Lawrence, executive director and CEO of the National Museum of Mathematics.