Billionaire Couple Donates $10 Million To Head Start Programs Defunded By Government Shutdown

October 10, 2013  |  

The government shutdown has defunded Head Start programs, which educate 7,000 poor toddlers in preparation for kindergarten. But a $10 million donation by billionaire couple John and Laura Arnold has got Head Start programs operating despite the standstill at Congress, The Root reports.

“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,” the Arnolds said in a statement.

The billionaire couple’s generous donation will benefit thousands of children in poverty who use these programs to “learn the skills needed for their early school years and whose parents rely on the program to have a safe, affordable place to take their children while they work,” The Root added.  And what makes the Arnolds particularly extraordinary are their qualms about passing on their wealth to their three children: “Because of our backgrounds and because of our own experiences, we just don’t believe in dynastic wealth,” they said.

Instead, they hope to pass on their fortunes to government programs — something many wealthy Americans refuse to do because of their distrust of the government’s judgment. According to The Root, the Arnold’s find it more prudent to invest in today’s deprived children than tomorrow’s prisons or homeless shelters.

“[W]hat makes the Arnolds’ act particularly significant is that, unlike some wealthy people who bought into Mitt Romney’s 47 percent argument that some Americans earn money and deserve it and others simply take it, the Arnolds are wealthy people who earned their money but who understand that America’s future will be brighter if they share it with children who are not born into the same opportunities as their children.”

John, whose wealth is valued at $2.8 billion, and his wife have previously made headlines for their support of the Obama administration. The Arnolds are heads of the Laura and John Arnold Foundation, which strives to impact society in a way that “maximizes opportunity and minimizes injustice.”

The Arnolds are crossing their fingers that the government eventually open because the Head Start programs can only last so long on philanthropists’ cash: “We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments,” The Arnolds told the Daily Mail.

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