Giving to charity
isnt a question for computer programmer Randy Smith, SB86,
and his partner, Lori Kenschaft, a graduate student in American
history at Boston University. Neither is how much to givefor
two years now, theyve allocated 10 percent of their income
to good causes. The only questions are where and how to donate that
wonderful thing about setting an amount to give away is that the
money is then thought of as spent; in some sense, its no longer
your money, Smith remarks. Its very freeing.
the most important stage of learning happens at an early age, they
chose to give their 1998 donation to support primary education.
As they discussed foundations to give to, Kenschafts mother
suggested that they create their own program and directly fund the
schools they were interested in.
So with a little
money$5,000 of their $50,000 household incomethe couple
set out to make big changes. Looking for the most creative and valuable
ways of spending the money, they mailed a notice explaining their
idea and application forms to all 73 of Bostons public elementary
40 proposals, Smith and Kenschaft decided to fund 14 projects, giving
different amounts based on the proposals. The couple gave $460 to
a second-grade teacher, who matched their gift with her own money,
buying a karaoke machine that displayed words on a screen to help
teach English to her Spanish-speaking students. An art teacher proposed
a project in which his fourth-grade students would read stories
and draw their imagined versions of the scenes. The money helped
buy art supplies and appropriate books.
Kenschaft describe one proposal as particularly disheartening: A
fifth-grade teacher asked for a projection screen because her classroom
was located in a basement with pipes running all around and no flat,
clear area of wall space.
on the projects, they discovered progress in at least one classroom:
The children, who didnt speak a word of English, are
now singing songs, word for word, in English, Smith reports.
Smith said that they have gotten letters from other peopleattuned
to their efforts because of a Boston Globe storywho
want to help fund the project next year.
best part is that we may have influenced other people to see that
it really doesnt take that much money to make a difference,
says Smith. There is no shortage of good work that needs to
be done. The world needs as many people as possible to help out.J.P.