Omaha’s low-income children will have a privately funded safety net that will provide everything from high-quality preschools, mentoring and health services to a guarantee of money for college or technical training. Billionaire Warren Buffett’s daughter Susie and other citizens who became very wealthy by investing in Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway have pledged to fund the comprehensive effort.
Every year in the Omaha area, hundreds of kids – mostly the poorest – drop out of school into lives of dead-end jobs, financial struggle and worse.
But what if all those kids had had a preschool program that kept them from entering kindergarten months behind their classmates?
What if they’d had the guidance of mentors and tutors and access to after-school activities?
What if someone had intervened when they skipped classes or got into drugs or gangs?
What if those kids had known that if they made it through school, a scholarship would be waiting — transforming a college education from a lost cause to a guarantee?
How many could have been saved?
We’ll find out.
My father, born and raised in Omaha, turned down a chance to invest with Buffett when he was getting started. “No thanks, Warren,” he said. “I’ve got a family to support. I don’t have any extra money for investing.” Oh, well.