Giving back

09 Aug 2014

I have an internship this summer. I’m donating a portion of everything I make each week to a different charity — here’s why.

A product of circumstance

I believe that a person’s success is defined primarily by the environment they grew up in, rather than personal qualities like intelligence and persistence. Personality traits might have an impact, but they’re definitely not the primary factor.

Update: A 30-year study from Johns Hopkins reinforces the idea that, even in the United States, there’s little upward mobility. The family and neighborhood you happen to be born into is the biggest factor in determining success.

Hopkins researchers undertook a massive study. They followed nearly 800 kids in Baltimore — from first grade until their late-20s.

They found that a child’s fate is in many ways fixed at birth — determined by family strength and the parents’ financial status.

The kids who got a better start — because their parents were married and working — ended up better off. Most of the poor kids from single-parent families stayed poor.

And from another article about the same project:

Just 33 of 314 had left the low-income socioeconomic status of their parents for the middle class by age 28.

Growing up, there were a lot of things I didn’t have to worry about. I didn’t have to raise a younger sibling. I never took on a summer job for financial reasons. I am very fortunate to have parents who were there to support me, and didn’t have to work nights or weekends. I had a lot of free time (which I usually spent on the computer).

I’m now in a situation where I can afford to give money, in addition to time, to groups that are leveling the playing field. If you’re in a similar situation, here are some great organizations you should consider giving back to:

And some other nonprofits I think are important:

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