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"Education is a right, not a privilege"

Close to My Heart Foundation is a nonprofit organization founded by Hiruni Herat in 2017. Close to My Heart started when Herat visited Sri Lanka with her parents since they are of Sri Lankan descent. When Herat was in 8th grade, she made other friends in Sri Lanka and visited their school. She noticed their school supplies were nothing like hers in Seneca Valley. This inspired her to host a backpack collection at her school. Her goal was to collect 16 backpacks, instead, she received 65 backpacks filled with school supplies. Herat continued to collect items for Sri Lankan students such as eyeglasses and money. This was still not enough for her. She started the nonprofit, Close to My Heart Foundation, to make an even greater impact in the lives of Sri Lankan citizens.

This organization is working to reduce the educational and health care gap in underprivileged populations. Since Close to My Heart’s involvement in schools, the passing rate went from 30% to 85%. This jump in passing rates is thanks to the photocopy machine Close to My Heart donated to the Palpita school. With a printer, students could study by using copies of past exams and blank worksheets. “Education is a right, not a privilege, regardless of a person’s socioeconomic standing, gender, or race.”

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