“Giving Pledge” Couple Offers Up $10M to Keep Head Start Available in 6 States

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October 7, 2013; Washington Post


After seven Head Start programs were closed last week as part of the federal government shutdown, 7,195 low-income children were left without access to the program. This was unacceptable to Laura and John Arnold, who provided $10 million in emergency funding to reopen those programs and to prevent the closing of others. If the Head Start programs receive funding for a full year once the government reopens, they will pay the money back. Meanwhile, the children will not pay the price for the shutdown, and their parents can work without putting the children at risk in less safe arrangements. The programs that had been closed simply drew the short straw in the timing of their grants, which were to have been released after the shutdown happened.

Laura and John Arnold have signed onto the “Giving Pledge” and plan to give away most of their wealth in their lifetimes, and they are still quite young. On its website, the Laura and John Arnold Foundation describes itself as striving “to produce substantial, widespread and lasting changes to society that will maximize opportunity and minimize injustice” and it has programmatic commitments in the K–12 area and in public accountability in government.

“The Arnolds’ most generous act epitomizes what it means to be an angel investor,” Yasmina Vinci of the National Head Start Association said. “They have selflessly stepped up for Head Start children to ensure their path toward kindergarten readiness is not interrupted by the inability of government to get the nation’s fiscal house in order.”—Ruth McCambridge