By Jacquelyn Kung
"For it is in giving that we receive" - Francis of Assisi
My life has been the opposite of how Francis of Assisi describes: I received so much and now I give as much as I can. Education is the reason I have the life I do today, and I am humbled to be a part of the BASIC Fund family in giving back to our community.
How Others Provided For Me
By way of background, my parents were rice farmers in China. My mother tells the story of meeting my father and seeing the ramshackle shed he called his home. His blanket had more holes in it than strings of thread, she likes to describe.
And so, it is through a series of miracles that my family ended up in Norway and finally America. Even so, I remember the nights around the kitchen table when my parents would balance the checkbook and realize there was not enough money to pay the bills that week. Given we had so little, my parents emphasized the importance of education as a way to get ahead.
So many people helped me along the way. I went to extracurricular activities and summer programs paid for by local charities and church groups in Texas. A free writing program taught me how to write. Imagine my family's delight when we received acceptance letters from Harvard, Princeton, and Stanford. I had never seen my parents cry before.
Since I had only attended public schools until then, my parents fretted about how we would pay for college. Again, so many people helped us - and me. I received scholarships that covered much of the tuition, and my parents scrimped together money to pay for incidentals like textbooks and food. Without these scholarships, I would have gone to a local public college.
My Own Lightbulb Moment on Giving Back
My wakeup call for how to give back started twenty years ago. McGraw-Hill published a book I had co-authored on how to get into college and pay for it. I thought that getting a book published was pretty great. But then I noticed something. One week, we got two notes - one from a disadvantaged student in Panama and one from Malaysia. They both talked about how the book had changed their lives by helping them get into the college of their dreams. That's when I realized that, very tactically, what you can have a life-changing impact on others that you may never meet. It was a humbling and inspiring moment that has shaped the way I think.
Giving Back To Education
Today, I am an entrepreneur and advisor in eldercare here in the Bay Area. After working in McKinsey's healthcare practice, I had the good luck to co-found a rapidly-growing technology business that supports home care agencies in the U.S. - and which supports the care of 500,000 seniors a year. In short, what this all means is that I still have limited financial means! However, I wanted to give back - especially to education, which has afforded me countless opportunities. When the opportunity arose to give back through the BASIC Fund, I let the organization know that I am not financially salient - but that I would be delighted to give what I can. And so, each year I donate what funds I can but also seek to support in other ways.
Through the BASIC Fund, I've been fortunate to help cultivate data, metrics, and programs around school performance. This raises transparency for the good work that is happening in the field so that donors can feel more comfortable with how their funds are making an impact.
As you can see from my story, I've been incredibly blessed to have received so much support in my lifetime- from those who know me well (like my parents) and those who may not know me at all. Because of the investment that has been made in me, I will continue to invest in others, and by doing so through the BASIC Fund program, I know I am making a true difference in the lives of many.