Giving Back: Researching Donation Options

So, as a writer with a handful of short stories and two books in the publication channels, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to my goals as an author.

I want to make a difference in the lives of the kids I write for. I can do that in two ways. I can write compelling stories that help my readers reach their potential, and I can donate a certain amount of my proceeds to the causes I believe in.

The first option seems relatively easy in comparison to the second one. I have spent the last few weeks researching how best to donate to the futures of my potential audience. Trust me, it’s not as easy as it first seems.

In part, I balk at scholarships that have a GPA criteria. There are 1001 of them out there for outstanding students. These kids are already well on their way to success. Instead, I want to make sure the kids who benefit from any money/goods I donate are at risk of not succeeding.

You see, literacy is probably my biggest soap box issue. Poverty, crime and literacy rates are so tightly linked that some states base their need for prison beds on the reading success of elementary students. This is a great American travesty and not the only one out there when it comes to managing literacy.

Eldest Son has severe dyslexia. Completing high school was a struggle. Getting academic scholarships was not in his cards. Yet, according to research, his brain works six times harder to complete educational tasks as a traditional student’s. By rights shouldn’t that entitle him to six times the scholarship money? Alas, however, it is these students who fall through the cracks and end up in jail. The ones we don’t help succeed when it is whithin our ability to do so.

Another part of the equation is that many programs are geographically based. Sure I can donate to the Detroit area where 47% of the population is functionally illiterate. But I don’t live in Chicago. If I’m going to pinpoint a single geographic area, it will be my own.

Yet my neck of the woods doesn’t have a viable charity/scholarship for the individuals I want to help. In fact, my neck of the woods–because it’s small and at the corner of Nowhere and More Nowhere–gets overlooked by nearly all important services. As a whole, we are economically and educationally suppressed and service poor.

Anyway, long story short, I am having a difficult time finding a charity to donate to that hits the demographic I am passionate about: at risk students who could reach their potential if given the chance.

I want to be part of that chance.

Any suggestions?

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6 responses to “Giving Back: Researching Donation Options

  1. It may be that given you have definate ideas about how you want to help you will need to either set up your own charity or work with a local school to create a scholarship programme with the criteria you want met maybe the charity is the way to go as it potentially could help more kids

    • I think that’s my problem. I have such strong opinions about it that satisfying them seems nearly impossible.

      Several problems exist for setting up my own charity: getting the word out, meeting minimums that some foundations require to start your own scholarship and tax write-offs/taxes for the giver and the givee.

      So many things to consider, but I suspect in the end you will be right. I will probably come up with something on my own that can be exactly what I want.

      Thanks for your input. It is definitely helping me think through the whole thing.

  2. This topic is on top of my list as well. I am passionate about adult basic literacy, but that starts in the early grades. As a sixth grade science teacher in Houston I saw my share of non-reading children. Most colleges have a literacy program, some libraries have contacts and maybe even classes. Then there are the headstart programs and Goodwill. For scholarship ideas I may start at the local job center. They may actually have lists of people who would benefit from these scholarships as well as classes and programs to support. In Alaska there is a group called 9-Star. In fact, you have a great idea. I’m going to check my local job center today.

    • Wow, you are a wonderful resource here! Thanks so much for putting so much thought into your response. You’ve given me some things to consider.

      Hugs and best luck with yours as well.

  3. Does your local high school have a foundation that awards scholarships? Perhaps this could be an avenue? Or fund your own foundation that can award scholarships at the local level as part of the high school’s overall portfolio of available awards. This would give you access to the local population you are interested in while also allowing you to define, in any way you want, the criteria.

    • Yep, but the foundations either require a set amount of cash to get started, or they lack the control I want in regards to criteria for such scholarships.

      It’s funny that it is so hard to give something away!

      Maybe I need to relax my ideals…

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