The United States has a great system of higher education, with nearly 5,000 colleges and universities nationwide. Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Education indicate that almost two-thirds of all students enter college within one year of their graduation from high school. As citizens of this great nation, we can take pride in that fact. However, as the cost of higher education continues to rise steadily, many students are deciding that they cannot afford the dream of a college education.
When new Horatio Alger Members step up to the podium to accept their award, invariably they begin to thank those who helped them along the way, such as a caring parent or an inspiring teacher or mentor. They say that without their assistance, they would not have reached their current heights of success. Now they feel it is their turn to give a helping hand—to give opportunity—to those who need it the most.
Opportunity is a word that Horatio Alger Members fully understand. In our youth we looked for opportunities, and we seized them when they came our way. But someone, somewhere along the way offered us those opportunities. Now we feel it is incumbent upon ourselves to return the favor. But where and how do we go about doing that? How do we choose to give back?
Americans are a giving and generous people, and there are many worthy avenues through which to channel support. Through the Association, Members have chosen to support individual students in need. Based on our own experiences, we realize that American free enterprise provides an equal track for all who wish to run the race. However, based on personal early-life circumstances, individuals must travel varying distances just to get to the starting line. The goal of the Association’s scholarship activities is to provide deserving students with an equal chance to live fulfilling and productive lives.
A prominent American once said, “Giving should be entered into in the same careful way as investing because giving is investing.” That is what Horatio Alger Members do—invest in America’s future. It is our hope that it will be a future filled with people from diverse backgrounds who are working to reach their full potential so that those who come behind them can build on the progress that has been made. By contributing more than $8 million annually to the education of America’s most deserving youth, we are making wise investments in America’s future. By increasing those contributions, we bring hope and opportunity to those who remind us of ourselves: young people who are willing to put forth the effort to learn, contribute to society and make a positive difference. Who benefits from such an investment?
We all do.
National Scholar Alumni at the 2010 Alumni Summit in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania