The nonprofit organization Magic Bus Feb. 15 held its inaugural gala fundraiser in New Jersey, establishing its presence in the state.

The event, attended by nearly 400 business leaders, professionals and members of the Indian American community, raised funds for life-skills, literacy and livelihoods programs for underprivileged children in urban and rural communities in India, the organization said in a news release.

Among those in attendance included actor, sports entrepreneur and longstanding Magic Bus patron Abhishek Bachchan, who served as the guest of honor.

Bachchan has been a global ambassador of Magic Bus for several years.

The evening raised almost $300,000 for Magic Bus, a 19-year old, award-winning nonprofit that reaches nearly 400,000 marginalized children across 22 states in India and provides essential life-skills training, learning enhancement programs, counseling, workforce readiness training and job placement to help children and youth take control of their future and move out of poverty, it said.

Magic Bus’s Sports for Development and volunteer-based mentoring model has enabled it to reach a child with just $25 per year. It leverages the love of play in children to instill key messages about education, gender equality, mentorship and leadership.

It partners with parents, local community, schools and training partners to build an ecosystem of collaboration and a positive environment to encourage children to attain their education and job-related goals, according to the organization.

One of the key impacts that Magic Bus delivers is that 99 percent of all girls in Magic Bus programs are able to avoid child marriage and its negative consequences. Magic Bus programs show a positive impact in areas relating to school participation, adolescent girls in secondary school, youth in college and youth in formal sector employment, the release added.

A 17-year-old girl of Mumbai, who has been in the programs since she was 8, spoke at the event, telling the attendees about growing up in Asia’s largest slum and her journey with Magic Bus.

The evening’s program started with a welcome address by Magic Bus USA chair and BioUrja Trading head Amit Bhandari. Bhandari Feb. 10 led Houston’s fourth annual Magic Bus gala and raised $1 million for the organization.

Other speakers at the event included organization founder Matthew Spacie, director of international programs Geetanjali Singh, and Magic Bus Harvard Chapter president Neeraj Salhotra.

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