Growing up in the public school system without much money, I always thought of education as a great social equalizer that would give me as good a chance as anyone else to get ahead in life. Sadly, the statistics increasingly do not support that view. The economic mobility upon which America thrived as I was growing up is under threat. There is no way to address social and economic inequality without first addressing the issue of educational inequality. There are many equally virtuous ways to tackle this problem. I chose The BASIC Fund for its immediacy of delivery and for the effectiveness of its mechanism.
These schools were chosen by the families. There are any number of reasons that a family might choose a school, such as geography, pedagogy, philosophy or tuition. But each school was chosen as special for that family. Many of our scholarship recipients come from economically challenged neighborhoods with poor public education options and often from homes where both parents are working several jobs. For these kids, the small class sizes, the sense of structure, and the nurturing faculty make all the difference and that impression comes across powerfully at all the schools we have visited.
I especially enjoy sharing our experiences with The BASIC Fund with young families who are just beginning to shape their philanthropic profiles. These people often have young children themselves and are thinking about childhood development and education for the first time. This isn't an abstract investment; young philanthropists can see very tangible, specific results.
There is no doubt that the discussion about education is much broader and extraordinarily complex. But while we are working out policy issues, it is rewarding to know that in the meantime, we are making it possible for families to educate children who will hopefully join that debate and pay forward the opportunities given to them. My involvement with The BASIC Fund has been one of the most personally satisfying experiences I've had since moving to the Bay Area.
~ Byron Gill