A man named Marty Burbank has significantly changed the lives of 26 families by pledging to fund their kindergartners' college tuition.
Burbank will pay for two years at a community college and two years at a California state school — or the equivalent — so long as the students draw a picture or write an essay each year about what attending college will mean for them and their families.
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"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.
He estimates the tuition will cost about $1 million by 2032 and has set up a private foundation where he'll contribute some funds each year until there's enough, CNN reports.
Burbank is an attorney and Navy veteran, according to CNN. He and his wife — a professor at Vanguard University — were both the firsts in their families to go to college.
There are 26 students in Tessa Ashton’s kindergarten class at Rio Vista Elementary school in Anaheim, California. Each one of them speaks Spanish at home and they reportedly all arrived on the first day of school knowing very little English and even less about college.
One very crucial reason these kids don’t hear much about college is because it isn’t financially feasible for their parents, which is where Burbank comes in.
“I thought, let's take that financial burden away and maybe these kids will get more encouragement about going to college," he told CNNMoney.
Ashton and Burbank attend the same church and since meeting each other, Burbank has donated time, money and supplies to her classroom. Recently, their pastor's sermon about charity and sacrifice sparked the idea behind this grand gesture.
"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.
Burbank, 51, plans to delay his retirement in order to maintain the finances to carry out his plan while also sustaining his own family’s lifestyle.
"They say give until it hurts a little, and this hurts. But we feel it's the best investment we could make," he said.
Burbank’s generous donation was hardly a stunt to get attention, he and the school actually kept it under wraps for nearly a month, but word eventually began to spread like wildfire.
He hopes now that his story is out there, others will be inspired to take similar action in their own communities — even if it’s just picking up the tab for one student.
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