Collaborative Doers for Humanity


Founded in September 2006 by Usha R. Balakrishnan, CARTHA is a US 501(c)(3) tax-exempt nonprofit organization with the mission of cultivating Collaborative Doers for Humanity who bridge technological and social innovations to advance glocal good.

CARTHA's Federal Tax ID (or EIN Number) is 20-554-7610, and donations to CARTHA are tax-deductible under US law. We provide below the documents relating to our tax-exempt status as well as our Annual Tax Returns filed with the US Internal Revenue Service.

2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016


CARTHA‘s founder Usha R. Balakrishnan decided to establish a new entity in 2006 based on her 15-year career directing corporate partnerships and technology transfer efforts at the University of Iowa; her experiences in founding the Technology Managers for Global Health group within the Association of University Technology Managers; and becoming a grantee of three major philanthropies. She is guided by a two-fold "can-do" attitude and entrepreneurial spirit in spurring innovative thinking, managerial creativity, and collective action--expressed in her personal motto "Daring with Humility!" Her motto with CARTHA is “Pre-pairing minds to create chance.” Usha's life-purpose is to enable the "Socialization of Aspirations."

For readers who may be curious about the origins of the name “CARTHA” and the origins of the CARTHA logo design, or where we are housed currently, we provide below some thoughts from our founder:

Our Name

"I first came up with the acronym of CARTHA on October 19, 2005 by the joining of the words “Collaborative Arts in Research Translation for Human Advancement.” (And, of course, I knew that when pronounced out aloud, CARTHA meant “doer” in Sanskrit). The name CARTHA is thus very reflective of the combination of personal aspirations and professional interests that I developed during my life and career—and my intentions in founding the organization."

Our Logo

"I came up with the idea of the CARTHA logo design on Friday, August 4, 2006. This logo design (seen on the top of this page) is an adaptation of a traditional South Indian kolam which I have been drawing nearly every Friday since the age of 18 when my sister Nirmala first taught it to me. This kolam begins with 55 dots that are then connected to produce the symmetry embedding a total of 108 triangles. The globe inside CARTHA’s logo is an adaptation of the logo design of the Technology Managers for Global Health."

"My niece Kanchana Srinivasan (my elder sister’s daughter) who lives in Chennai wrote a beautiful section (see below) that describes how the efforts to produce the logo in digital format proceeded. Later updates to the logo design were helpfully undertaken by Curt Cuscino at House of Tears Design in Kansas City."

How was the CARTHA Logo developed?
Written by Kanchana Srinivasan (Chennai, India)

As a child, a game that I was always interested in was “Connecting the dots.” I was carried away imagining what living or non-living shape the connected dots would take up. Seeing my interest in connecting dots and also being a girl in South India, I was naturally taught the beautiful and mysterious art form of ‘ The Kolam’. Kolams were mostly made of rice powder and my mother often told me that the patterns I drew were complex transportation and assignment problems for the ants and insects nearby as it was food for them. With the pride of feeding the ants and the knowledge of the art form I drew patterns many mornings in the entrance of my house. As time went by I grew up from connecting rice powder dots to the dots of life itself.

Connecting the dots back to the good old kolam days my aunt called me up in August 2006 telling me about her new efforts in the direction of creating CARTHA. She also explained to me in detail her logo and the significance behind it. The logo had to be designed and I requested my mother (Nirmala Shrinivasan) to draw it out on paper. She sat at it for over an hour trying very hard to remember the pattern. After a lot of scratched-out sheets and disappointment over her bad memory she walked up to my grandmother (Kamala Moorti) and asked her to draw it out for her. My grandmother then patiently sat her down and told her the sequence of the dots and the pattern of joining them. She came back to me victoriously after understanding the idea and showed me step by step how to trace out the beautiful design on paper. As I was learning how the kolam was done, I went on to think how three generations were being connected by this kolam.

With this kolam design in hand, I walked into the office of Efex Colour Screens, the people who were to design the logo and detailed the whole concept out to them. With the dots connected the logo was born and so was CARTHA. And here you are with the dots still connecting...


Our Meanings

"CARTHA's logo design has a very personal meaning for me. However, I am very interested in knowing your reaction upon seeing CARTHA's name and logo design—if something strikes you as you read these paragraphs and look at our logo, please call me or write to me. (Some day, I would like to have a part of CARTHA’s website devoted to having people describe their own perception of the logo. For example, my friend Jane Hoshi in Philadelphia said that the CARTHA logo design reminds her of "quilting"—picking up different pieces of cloth and along with each one, the associated histories of when those clothes were worn and by whom and for what occasions—and thus, pulling up various emotions and joining them all up to create something beautiful.  CARTHA Board member George Krull said that the logo seemed like a geometric design created by a kaleidoscope.)

The name CARTHA also resulted in a most synchronous and magical connection between a woman named Cartha Alene Mahoney (now of Sarasota, FL) and CARTHA's Founder Usha Balakrishnan: A fascinating story worth reading!

I am also interested in knowing your thoughts about the concept of a "doer" since "doers" come in so many varieties, and connections among "doers" can occur in so many patterns, some planned, others purely serendipitous, and many more where we simply feel—at times, immediately upon meeting someone new—the sense of Oh, this was so meant-to-be!"

Our Home Office in Iowa City, Iowa, USA

Like most entrepreneurial ventures—with their small beginnings in a garage or basement—CARTHA is housed in the founder's home in Iowa City at 85 Leamer Court (since October 29, 2014). CARTHA's first official address from September 1, 2006 to August 1, 2014 was at 33 Buchanan Court in Iowa City. Usha believes that a calming physical space in her home ("Creativity Corner") has helped her reach higher planes of thought by linking with Carthans in many other parts of the world. Such undertakings are possible now because of accessibility to modern advances in telecommunications, computing, and digital/IT/Internet infrastructure.

While Usha has served as the "Chief Cook and Bottle-washer" for CARTHA since September 2006 with no administrative staff as such, she has felt extremely fortunate to enjoy the moral support and encouragement of so many. Because Usha is a reasonably good (and efficient) cook and loves people to visit her home and her family in informal settings, there continue to be many chai parties, cocktail receptions, celebratory events, and impromptu discussions in Usha's home with CARTHA Board members, Council of Advisors, Fellows, and Student Interns, volunteers, and friends who are residing in—or happen to be visiting—Iowa City. Usha's home--in particular, the kitchen dining table!--thus turned into an "idea incubator" promoting cross-cultural "glocalizer" dialogues and vibrant intellectual exchanges: an environment of friendly conversations that have enabled phenomenal collegial relationships to be formed first, and then, led naturally to new programming opportunities and partners for CARTHA.

© 2006 - 2017 CARTHA. All rights reserved.
85 Leamer Court, Iowa City, IA 52246, USA