Outstanding Alumnus: Nipun Mehta

By Ruth Carlson
Director, Community Relations

Quitting a high paying tech job to work at a charity is not the usual thing in the Valley. But then Nipun Mehta is not your usual young man. Mehta, age 24, recently resigned from a six figure programming job at Sun Microsystems to devote himself full time to CharityFocus, a non profit organization he founded in April, 1999. CharityFocus designs web sites for non-profits. It is staffed entirely by volunteers and when Silicon Valley professionals offer to donate money they are politely told that their time is more valuable. "It's easy to write check, but more important to give of yourself," he says.

Mehta started CharityFocus after growing disenchanted with the fast pace of life in the valley. "The valley momentum is to work constantly so you can get things and that was not bringing me happiness. What's the point? You never feel like you've arrived." And although his mother would have preferred Mehta make a lot of money and then start his charity, he says "the journey is more important than the outcome."

Some 700 people have helped 350 non-profits and among his volunteers are CEOs and people from as far way as Australia. "CharityFocus is not backed by money-it's backed by inspiration and that's powerful," says Mehta. Mehta's story has been covered by CNN, the Christian Science Monitor and the San Jose Mercury News among others.

Mehta graduated early from Wilcox high school and started classes at Mission College. He was on the tennis team under coach Jeff Nelson who had a big influence on his life. "The game of tennis taught me to live in the present moment -- you play your best when you don't worry about the outcomes," says Mehta. "And having a coach like Jeff Nelson was really the icing on the cake! He's a great tennis coach who subtly throws in life lessons. I feel very fortunate to have had his influence in my life; it's almost impossible for anyone to be not touched by his geniune goodness towards others."

Nelson says, "Nipun is an exceptional person. He is a hardworking, dedicated, humble and affable individual. He took and passed 39 units at Mission College to challenge himself, which is an unbelievable load! He was also the MVP that year." After two semesters, he transferred to UC Berkeley where he also made the tennis team.

He still lives near the college in his parent's home and hopes to inspire some Mission students as volunteers for charityfocus.org.