Arnolds Step In To Save Head Start From Gov't. Shutdown

Oct 9 2013 | 9:34am ET

With no end in sight to the U.S. federal government shutdown, a retired hedge fund manager is stepping in to ensure that one program helping low-income children is able to reopen.

Centaurus Capital founder John Arnold and his wife pledged $10 million to reopen Head Start programs in five southern states and Connecticut. Like other federal programs, Head Start lost its funding last week after Congress failed to pass a budget.

Arnold's gift will enable Head Start programs serving at least 7,195 children to reopen in Alabama, Connecticut, Florida, Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

"Like everyone else, we are disappointed in the stalemate that has led to the federal government’s shutdown," Arnold and his wife, Laura, who have pledged to give away most of their wealth, said. "Our representatives’ inability to resolve their differences has caused severe disruptions in the lives of many low-income Americans. We believe that it is especially unfair that young children from underprivileged communities and working families pay the price for the legislature’s collective failures."

“In an effort to address this injustice, we will help keep the doors open at Head Start programs across the country this month. We sincerely hope that our government gets back to work in short order, as private dollars cannot in the long term replace government commitments."

The National Head Start Association said that it would repay the Arnolds if it could following the reopening of the government. And it warned that 86,000 children in 41 states and one U.S. territory will lose their Head Start programs if the government doesn’t reopen by Nov. 1.

“The entire Head Start community and the at-risk children we serve are tremendously grateful to the Arnolds for their compassion and generosity,” NHSA executive director Yasmina Vinci said. “The bottom line, however, is that angel investors like the Arnolds cannot possibly offer a sustainable solution to the funding crisis threatening thousands of our poorest children. Our elected officials simply must find a fiscal solution that protects, preserves and promotes the promise that quality early learning opportunities like Head Start offer to nearly 1 million at-risk children each year.”


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