The Dream in Peril: A Case for Giving

A Letter from the President of TALF

Donor Packet, including Letter of Intent. (To download, click the image.)

The American Dream is supposed to be a mix of social mobility and competition. I think one more element is important, now more than ever — philanthropy. In the abstract, the Dream works because when the race of life starts, we all face an equal uphill climb, and we are rewarded for intelligence, skill and hard work. Upward social mobility resulting from one’s ability and hard work has long been a basic belief — and fact — in America.

The operation of that Dream is in peril. Social mobility is actually lower in the U.S. than in most other developed countries and is falling. Academic studies show that if a child is born into the poorest 20 percent of the U.S. population, the chances of making it into the top 10 percent is around 1 in 20.

Without a college degree, that same child has only a 1 in 20 chance of ending up even in the top 20 percent. Those starting out in the top 20 percent, however, have a 40 percent chance of moving into the top 10 percent — 8 times better than their poor counterparts, regardless of the education level they reach.

Ability and hard work are not enough

In other words, many of those starting careers now are starting from a position much farther from the top than others. Ability and hard work may not be enough to give them a far shot at reaching the top.

According to the recent Illinois State Board of Education report card, 82 percent of TTHS students fall into the low income category and facing the longer, steeper hill. These students cannot compete fairly the race of life unless they have the benefit of a strong educational experience.

But in that same report we see that the richest schools fund their high schools at around $23,000 per student while TTHS is funded around $15,000 per student. TTHS is better off than some — the poorest districts are funded around $9,000 per student — but hardly in a position to give its students much of a boost.

We can enrich the experience

TALF will never move Thornton to a high end funding of the state; that is not our purpose. But TALF can enrich the high school experience in a couple of key programs and provide a better starting line for some of its students.

The TALF board hopes we can unite and through acts of philanthropy help Thornton students have the benefit of a Thornton Experience similar to that we were lucky enough to enjoy. Please help in strengthening the educational opportunities at Thornton.

Please consider a multi-year pledge, since this kind of commitment will enable us to use longer planning horizons for our enrichment programs. Longer planning horizons enable us to secure a coordinated sequence of speakers. They allow organizations like the Math Club to gain momentum, because the students will know, for instance, that there will be calculators available for those joining in a later year. Pledge forms are available on the website,

Please consider giving to the Thornton Alumni Legacy Fund. Thank you.


Eric Fox