Empower Orphans was started in 2006, by Neha Gupta. As part of a family tradition, Neha's grandparents would take the family to a local orphanage to provide meals for the children. When she was 9 years old, she was heartbroken to understand that the orphaned children were unable to go to school or receive basic healthcare. She knew that she needed to take action to raise money for the orphanage and provide the children with opportunities to break the cycle of poverty.
When she returned home to the United States, she held a garage sale to sell all of her toys in order to collect money for the orphans. With the money that was raised from that one event, she was able to start a library and provide warm sweaters and food to the orphanage, the following year.
She then decided to continue her efforts, making and selling her own crafts, applying to grants, conducting fundraisers, and involving other peers. Neha often says that the organization's impact began to snowball and Empower Orphans was able to expand to schools throughout India, the United States, and Latin America. After starting a chapter at Penn State University, the impact further expanded to orphanages in Haiti and Uganda. Projects have included health clinics to provide children with medical attention for the first time in their lives, libraries and computer labs, workshops for young women to learn how to start their own businesses, student-led trips to an orphanage, and more.