A well-off California guy named Marty Burbank came to a crossroads recently. One path led to a fancy boat, which would have been fun to tool around on. The other path led to paying for 26 children to go to college. In the end, Burbank chose the road to awesomeness, and now 26 kindergarten kids will have an opportunity to go to college that they might not have had without Burbank’s help.
I think Burbank made the right decision. Boats are cool, but they don’t let you walk through life every day thinking, “I am a total badass who is doing good things for other people and making a huge difference to 26 people and their whole families.” Paying for college is the sort of thing that could make Burbank feel awesome about himself every day, and he deserves it, because it’s a pretty great thing he’s doing.
According to CNN Money, Burbank had been shopping for a boat and had narrowed it down to two models, but then he changed his mind and decided that he would instead pledge to pay for two years of community college and two years of tuition at a California state school for the 26 students in Tessa Ashton’s kindergarten class at Rio Vista Elementary.
Burbank and his wife knew Ashton from church and had helped Rio Vista Elementary before, but never at this level. Burbank and his wife were both the first people in their families to go to college, and they want the same for these kids.
All the students in Ashton’s class speak Spanish at home, and many of their parents don’t speak English at all. College is a financial impossibility for a lot of kids, but Burbank hopes that if he takes away the financial hurdle, the kids will be able to focus on doing well in school and graduating and being able to go on to college.
“I thought, let’s take that financial burden away and maybe these kids will get more encouragement about going to college,” he said.
To get the tuition paid for, all the kids have to do is draw a picture or write an essay every year about what going to college will mean for their families. Burbank decided that would be a good task, because it will help the kids keep college in their minds.
“I’m a strong believer in visualizing your goals, and this way they’ll be thinking about this each year for the next 12 years,” he said.
Burbank isn’t so rich that he can pay for college for 26 kids without feeling it. He’s a lawyer and a Navy veteran, and his wife is a college professor. He estimates that he will need to pay $1 million in 2032 to cover the expenses of his pledge, for which he’s put together a foundation. A gift like this he says will require him to delay his own retirement a bit, and maybe take a bit of belt-tightening. But he says it’s worth it, and he thinks others should consider doing the same, or at least something similar.
“It doesn’t have to be a whole class. Picking up the tab for one child can really make a difference,” he said.
Burbank is doing a pretty great thing for these kids, and he probably gets a whole lot more enjoyment and satisfaction out of that knowledge than he would from a boat.
(Photo: travenian/iStockPhoto/Getty Images)