The United States government shutdown drags on and it's getting bad for some people. Like those parents whose kids are in Head Start, which is pre-school for children of low-income parents. The program closed due to the stalemate, causing hardship for those parents who rely on it while they work. (Yes, low-income people work!) Luckily, thousands of children and their parents will get a reprieve thanks to a generous-hearted couple named John and Laura Arnold -- who happen to be billionaires.
The Arnolds are donating $10 million of their $2.8 billion fortune (John is the head of a hedge fund) to keep seven Head Starts in various states open. Although that sounds like a drop in the bucket when you think about their wealth, it's still a pretty substantial gift to put in one place. Besides, when's the last time you donated $10 million to anyone? Haha.
John and Laura Arnold said:
We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature's collective failures. We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments.
No doubt this will be a godsend for many parents, who probably cannot afford alternative childcare while they work. Unfortunately, even $10 million only goes so far, and the money will only stretch for the next few weeks.
As a graduate of Head Start, I'm thrilled this couple chose to spend their money this way. There's not a lot about Head Start that I remember, but I do remember it being a fun, educational place. I'm pretty sure it was in the basement of a church. I had no knowledge until I was an adult, actually, that it was a government-funded program for low-income people. I just thought it was school!
I do know that in my adulthood I graduated from an Ivy League school -- so Head Start definitely helped me get a "head start" in life.
And the thousands of children who are being affected by the shutdown deserve the same.
Kudos to John and Laura.
Have you been affected by the shutdown?
Image via Bruno Morandi/Corbis