Raghuraji Devi Foundation Trust was established by Rakesh Pandey in 1995, in memory of his late mother who died of Tuberculosis when he was only five years old. He hardly has photos of her as cameras were rare in the India of the 1950’s. Mr Pandey founded the trust with an aim to empower the people of Ambedkar Nagar – considered one of the most backward districts of India – and keep the legacy of his mother alive.
Growing up in a primarily agrarian and poor district, Mr Pandey faced enormous challenges: poverty, gang violence, a lack of access to quality education, and a lack of sports infrastructure (he loved football, wrestling, and hockey). Motherless and the oldest among his siblings, he learnt to be self dependent at a young age. His father sent him to his uncle’s place in Allahabad to study, but he ended up having to do chores most days. This severely affected his school performance, and he was forced to drop out.
His keen business acumen and passion for upward social mobility led him to found several businesses spanning construction, real estate, agriculture, food processing, and retail. However, running a business and raising a family in a violent and poor district like Ambedkar Nagar meant that Mr Pandey and his family were often targets of threats of violence from local mafia. So he was forced to send his two sons away to school in Dehradun when they were both very young.
The hardships of living in Ambedkar Nagar including the pain of being separated from his young children motivated Mr Pandey to found a charitable organization that worked towards upward social mobility of the community. And so, Raghuraji Devi Foundation Trust was born with the central values of promoting peace, harmony, and fraternity in the deeply divided society of Ambedkar Nagar, where traditional hierarchies still shape everyday life.
Since its founding, we have worked to create lasting change in the lives of people through education, sports, disaster relief, hunger relief, and environmental activism. We work across the lines of caste, religion, and gender, in order to promote the spirit of kinship and provide opportunities for growth and development. In 2011, we founded the Takshila Academy, one of the most prestigious K-12 schools in the region; shortly after, we founded the Awadh Mutineers Sports Club, a philanthropic initiative where we scout talented young players from below poverty line backgrounds and provide them with a free education at Takshila, and sports and nutrition training.
Rakesh Pandey, Founder
Rakesh Pandey was a Member of Parliament representing Ambedkar Nagar in the 15th Lok Sabha (2009-2014). He founded the Raghuraji Devi Foundation Trust in 1995, to honour the memory of his late mother who died early on in his childhood. With very little formal education to his name, Mr Pandey has built a pan-India business empire in construction, real estate, agriculture, food processing, and retail.
He currently lives in Akbarpur, Ambedkar Nagar with his family, and continues to look after his businesses and philanthropic endeavours.
Ritesh Pandey, Chairman
Ritesh Pandey is a first-time Member of Parliament representing Ambedkar Nagar since 2019. He is also the founder of the Takshila Academy, a premier K-12 institution in Ambedkar Nagar, and the Awadh Mutineers Sports Club, a philanthropic initiative that scouts talented rural youth from below poverty line backgrounds and provides them with free education and sports training.
Ritesh completed his senior secondary education from Welham Boys School, and earned his Bachelor's from the European Business School, Regent's University, London.