Houston Couple Help Fund Head Start Program

Photo by: Kenta Mabuchi


John and Laura Arnold, the young Houston couple that have donated millions towards criminal justice initiatives, research methodologies, and K-12 education endeavors, have donated $10 million to help fund the Head Start program amidst the current government shutdown.

Head Start, a program that offers a variety of health and education services for low-income children age five and under, has been sidelined like many government programs since Oct. 1. The program is a federally funded operation that also accepts private funding, and if the government shutdown continues it could be forced to close its operations in a number of states by the end of this month; currently, several of the operations in southern states are feeling the strain only nine days in.


From the New York Times:

“The Arnolds’ most generous act epitomizes what it means to be an angel investor,” said Yasmina Vinci, executive director of the National Head Start Association, in a statement, but “angel investors like the Arnolds cannot possibly offer a sustainable solution to the funding crisis threatening thousands of our poorest children.”


One of the mission statements from the John and Laura Arnold Foundation, “Philanthropy should be entrepreneurial, not institutional or bureaucratic,” seems quite fitting during the current turmoil affecting a number of educational programs.

Yesterday in Washington, the House of Representatives passed a Republican-led, short-term spending measure to fund Head Start, but the measure will likely die in the Senate with Majority Leader Harry Reid’s refusal to negotiate with Republicans on individualized spending measures until the current government shutdown is resolved and all government programs are reopened. This could take some time as Republicans seem dug in and unwilling to budge before some small victory is reached, though what that victory may be is unclear at this point.

While benefactors like the Arnolds are stepping up to fill in the current funding gaps, $10 million will not be enough to keep the doors of Head Start open if the government shutdown continues through the fall.

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