The single most important way to change the world in a positive and permanent way I feel is through education. It is the single tool through which anyone can prosper if they are encouraged and apply themselves.
I certainly do not wish to pick on any particular school system, but there are a LOT of crappy schools out there, and there are some people at those schools who should not be teachers. There are others who are great teachers but lack resources.
The first thing I would do after I identified where I might have the greatest impact would be to create (rent or buy) a safe place for kids to go both before and after school where they could really learn. I am aware there are already such places, such as the Toberman Center in San Pedro which I support. Check them out.
But budgets are somewhat limited these days and we need many more places like them so that is where most of that money would go. I’d recruit the best tutors I could hire, and buy the best resources- iPads, iMacs, etc for each child and do my best to make a difference in their lives.
You can read about ways to help here.
For those students who put in the effort, I’d reward them by paying the tuition costs for as many of them as I could to attend the best schools I could find- including private high schools if the public schools where they lived were lacking- which I suspect many would be considering the neighborhoods of which we are speaking. I wish I would win that lottery. The money would be theirs.
The way out of poverty is through learning. Learning inspires, and promotes self confidence, and an awareness of the world, and most of all, it gives hope- hope for the parents and hope for the students.
If you look at some of the great success stories about poor students who have been allowed to attend a top university at no cost, you will understand my wish. That is why so many of the Ivy League and other universities now offer full tuition, room and board assistance.
For me, THIS is how their foundations funds should used. It will make the greatest difference for our country moving forward.
But there are many who still never get the chance, who need tutors or great teachers who can spend the extra non-class time and energy to make up for home learning environments that are often appalling. Many of the parents lack the skills to help their children. Some don’t speak the language.
If you can afford to help, spend some time looking to see how you can make a difference and give your time, or funding- give what you can.