I Love Social Entrepreneurs

I have to say, I love business people who make a difference. Social entrepreneurs are what this blog is all about. It is business and personal. The two individuals I am writing about today are Ted Forstmann and John Walton. They have been attempting to help families who have been relegated to low income situations by providing educational opportunities for their children.

The Children’s Scholarship Fund was started in 1999. John Walton and Ted Forstmann raised $200 million to provide inner city students with scholarships that allows them to attend a better school. What is so unique about this program is the requirement for parents to also contribute to tuition payments for the school their student will attend. The scholarship provided by CSF was not a free ride, it was help to ensure students could get a good education.

When the fund started 1.25 million families from 22,000 U.S. cities applied for the four-year scholarships. According to the WSJ 168,000 families applied from New York City alone. All these activities were attempting to get a limited number of scholarships. These scholarships were for $2,000 a year, with parents expected to pay up to $1000 for their children’s education. When the scholarships were awarded the foundation gave out 40,000 scholarships. 40,000 students that could have languished in a rotting public school system ended up getting a better education because of these two men.

Forstmann and Walton recognized the importance of parental involvement. However, they also recognized the mandate “to whom much is given much is required.” They have been able to raise $483 million from those that make up the 1%, to help those at the bottom of the 99%. To date they have awarded 123,000 scholarships. That means 123,000 kids who could have ended up in very bad situations have been given a chance.

Forstmann made a very interesting statement to the WSJ. He said, recalling parental commitment, “ Consider that $1,000 over four years from the parents of 1.25 million children adds up to $5 billion. Five billion dollars from families who have very little.”

In this scenario two stereotypes are demolished. The first is that the 1% doesn’t care. $483 million is a pretty big number for people that supposedly don’t give a rip. $5 billion is another big number, especially when others feel that people on state aid are lazy and have an entitlement attitude.

Maybe we should quit pointing figures at each other, and work together for the betterment of our community. Forstmann has shown us a better way. Sounds like what someone else said about loving others as we would liked to be loved.

And that is my thought for the day!


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