← Back

Donor Q&A: The Bewtras

March 14, 2021 New Classrooms

In celebration of the International Day of Mathematics and Pi Day, we’re featuring reflections from New Classrooms donors, Naren and Manju Bewtra. The Bewtras are philanthropists who have a personal passion for numbers and for enabling more students to see their math education as a critical building block to creating academic and professional opportunities. 

Tell us about yourselves and the values that drive your giving?

We came from India to pursue PhD’s in Mathematics and Physics at Cornell University in the late 60s. We started our careers working on several NASA space programs and later decided to start and grow our own business providing consulting services to the US government, primarily, to Defense, Homeland Security and Veteran Affairs. We sold our company in 2015 and moved to New Jersey for retirement close to grandkids.  

As immigrants to this country, we feel we have been fortunate to have access to higher education and in owning a highly successful business enterprise. Retired now, we want to share and give back part of our wealth to support young people who have not had the same opportunities. We hope to instill the love of math that we have in more students, as we see it as a big part of our success.

Why did you first decide to support New Classrooms?

We always felt the importance of mathematics in our daily lives and felt there was a lack of creative programs in schools, particularly for students and families who have been marginalized by the traditional education system. New Classrooms attracted us because they develop programs in an innovative way to meet each learner where they are and accelerate each student’s skill development. They also implement these programs in all kinds of schools and classrooms, which is extremely important to us.

What role has math played in your own lives as you were growing up?

When I was growing up my (Naren’s) father used to bring home problems to compute lengths and widths in feet and inches. These were the pre-calculator days, and I was able to compute these problems mentally or with a piece of paper. Using mental math and solving problems with algebra has helped me both in daily life as well as professionally, for financial/investment management and for business growth. Mathematics has helped us with everything from using analytical thinking for making business decisions to writing programs with minimal bugs.

What is your greatest hope for the future of education in the United States?

As we imagine the future of education, we hope to see increased funding for education with emphasis on achieving educational excellence for all students. We don’t just want children to memorize–we want them to become true problem solvers. We also believe the use of advanced technologies like machine learning can help enable all students to get the education they need at scale. Beyond math education, we’d like to see an increased emphasis on solving problems for school choice, addressing school violence, supporting non-English speaking students, and tackling racial segregation and discrimination. We have so much work to do!

Since the International Day of Mathematics is also Pi Day, can you tell us your favorite type of Pie?

Naren’s favorite is Pecan and Manju’s is apple with ice cream!