Why we give - a message from the Couch Family

Kelly and I sincerely appreciate the excellent work done by the BASIC Fund and would like to share with others the story behind our family’s support and our passion for the mission.

Although Kelly and I share a commitment to providing educational opportunities to others, we come at this from two different angles.  For Kelly, as long as she can remember, she always wanted to be a teacher.  When she was a little girl she would play “school” with her dolls.  A strong student throughout grade school and high school, she developed a love for studying History at Middlebury College.  As she approached graduation and was discussing post-college plans with classmates, she was often frustrated when she heard others say, “Well, I am going to try ____, but I can always fall back on teaching.”  Kelly was about to begin her high school teaching career, and knew that it was not a career to “fall back” on.  She later completed graduate work in History at Stanford, so she could be a smarter and more effective teacher.

As for me, I often say that I would absolutely not be where I am professionally were it not for the educational opportunities I was afforded at critical times in my life.  Having grown up with humble beginnings, I look back on where my life could have gone and feel very lucky to now be in a position to help others.  Like many, my parents understood that a quality education was the key to unlocking life’s opportunities. Yet they were not exactly sure how to guide me, as neither of them has a college degree.  Early on, they found the resources to move me from a challenging environment in our local public school system through a partial tuition scholarship to a local private school.  From there I received a need-based scholarship to attend Bellarmine College Preparatory in San Jose and multiple scholarships to attend Middlebury College in Vermont.  I studied Economics and Political Science and learned Chinese.  My Dad used to joke – “Who would have guessed a kid from South-East San Jose would have the opportunity to study abroad in China!”  Harvard Law School was next – again thanks to generous financial aid – and from there I joined Goldman Sachs back home in the San Francisco Bay Area.  Last year I joined the Board of the BASIC Fund and am passionate about expanding the incredible work done over this organization’s first 15+ years.

Kelly and I feel fortunate to be in a position to help others -- students who may be in circumstances not so different than where I was a few decades ago.  We firmly believe that a strong educational foundation is critical to expanding life’s opportunity set.  It can serve as a great equalizer and lead to extraordinary social mobility outcomes.  All of our family’s charitable efforts – both time and capital – are directed toward providing educational opportunities, particularly where there is the greatest need.  We are so excited to partner with the BASIC Fund – the students, alumni, staff and donor community are all proof of what can be achieved!

Best, Kelly and John Couch -- and Maddie (4), AJ and Jackson (4 mos) too!

Posted on October 9, 2014 .