You’d be hard-pressed to find a more impressionable age group than kindergarteners. It’s the first time many are separated from their parents and taking baby-steps towards independence.
College couldn’t be further from their minds at this age, and thanks to the generosity of a Fulerton, California couple, kindergarteners in Anaheim will never have to.
Marty Burbank and his wife Seon Chun-Burbank have pledged to send 26 Rio Vista Elementary School kindergarteners to college.
The Burbanks were considering the purchase of a boat but decided to put the money to better use.
“I thought that buying a boat at that point would be a selfish thing,” Marty said to CNN Money. “I thought, let’s take that financial burden away and maybe these kids will get more encouragement about going to college,”
The couple made donations to the elementary school in the past, but nothing of this magnitude. Kindergarten teacher Tessa Ashton said the kids understand that the Burbanks are doing something nice for them, but they may be too young to fully grasp it.
“I had to really simplify it like, you’re going to be able to go because he’s going to give you the money to be able to go,” Ashton said to Fox 2 Detroit.
There are 26 students in Ashton’s class who will now get the opportunity to go to college without worrying about tuition.
“For the cost of buying a boat and the maintenance and the storage over the next twelve years, I can put these kids through school,” Burbank said.
Marty and Seon are the first in their families to attend college. As such, the students, many of whom will be first-generation college attendees, have a special place in their heart.
The couple estimates tuition will cost $1 million of their personal money and have established a private foundation where they’ll make regular contributions and store the funds. The students will be college eligible in 2032.
“We’re going to pay for two years at a community college and two years at a Cal State University,” the couple said to Fox 2 Detroit.
“They say give until it hurts a little, and this hurts. But we feel it’s the best investment we could make,” Marty said.
The kindergarteners are the recipients of the Burbanks generosity, but their families are just as appreciative.
For the parents of the children, most of which didn’t go to college or speak English, their kids now have the bright future they’ve always dreamed of.
“Thank you, thank you so much,” one mom said to Fox 2 Detroit. “My feelings are happy,” said another. “I’m so happy.”
Rio Vista Elementary School places an emphasis on going to college at an early age— every Friday kids are encouraged to wear university garb as part of “College Fridays.”
“The idea is to give them this vision that college is as much a part of their future as high school or middle school,” Ashton said.
The tremendous pledge might hurt the Burbanks finances a bit, but they’re hoping it will set an example for others in the community.
A seven-figure donation is a considerable sum of money, and Marty admits that it will set the family back a bit. He’ll put off buying a new car, and won’t be retiring as early as he originally hoped.
But the future and education of little ones is a worthwhile investment. He hopes others will follow his example and give to the best of their abilities.
“It doesn’t have to be a whole class. Picking up the tab for one child can really make a difference,” he said.