Communities in Schools receives $1M gift

A wealthy donor presented a $1 million gift to help a nonprofit organization that helps prevent school dropouts in Tarrant County

The donation from Ramesh Bhatia, former owner of ATCO Rubber Products Inc. of Fort Worth, is the largest ever received by Communities in Schools of Greater Tarrant County.

“The unprecedented $1 million gift from the Ramesh and Kalpana Bhatia Family Foundation will exponentially grow our foundation allowing Communities in Schools to serve thousands of at-risk students for many years to come,” said Lindsey Garner, president and CEO of the nonprofit. “Research demonstrates that CIS offers a sizable return on investment to donors, students, businesses and taxpayers.

“Great schools with high graduation rate remain the economic driver for the future of our community,” Garner said.

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It is the largest contribution ever made by Bhatia and his family, who have contributed generously to nonprofit organizations that help the needy.

An immigrant from India, Bhatia earned a degree in mechanical engineering and began his career consulting for the oil and gas industry. He eventually accepted a position as general manager of ATCO, a company that manufactured flex duct products.

Bhatia quickly realized the only way to grow the company from 30 employees and plants in Arkansas, California and Florida was to relocate headquarters to a more central location. After relocating to Fort Worth, the company eventually expanded to a workforce of 1,300 at 14 manufacturing plants in the United States and four in Europe.

In 1994, Bhatia purchased the company from its original owner and paid off the loan within five years. Last year, he sold ATCO to Mueller Industries, a publicly-traded company based in Memphis, TN., for $163 million.

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Bhatia and his family will be honored at the nonprofit’s annual luncheon on April 2. Tickets are $50 per person and may be purchased online at For information on sponsorships, contact Rachel Peters at

Communities in Schools is a national program that serves more than 1.2 million students. In Tarrant County, CIS programs operates in 53 schools in eight school districts: Fort Worth, Azle, Crowley, Everman, Granbury, Hurst-Euless-Bedford, Keller and Lake Worth. In 2017-18, nearly 34,000 students were served through the Communities in Schools programs.