J.K. Rowling’s charity, Lumos, has been going through a dramatic expansion and recently set up shop in the United States. Now, Lumos has released a new short film narrated by Rowling that seeks to draw attention to the disservice done to children by long-term institutional care.In the three-minute film, Children Need Families Not Orphanages, Rowling speaks passionately about why children need families to grow and thrive, and how institutional settings cannot meet the biological and developmental needs of children for individual love and care.
The news last May that 19 and Counting star Josh Duggar sexually abused multiple girls as a teenager, including his own siblings, rocked the nation. Since the story first broke, it has continued to unfold in disturbing ways. There was the convenient destroying of Arkansas police reports on Josh Duggar from 2006, and then the Duggar’s response that included an assertion that their rights had been violated because this information got out. Not surprisingly, TLC has now decided to cancel the show for good.
We started a bold experiment recently in our house: paying our children interest on their savings accounts at the astronomical rate of 3% a week.
Why would any parent want to do such a thing? My argument is that it was the best way to teach our children about what should happen to money when you save it. I also saw it as a good opportunity to build their skills for evaluating how to spend accumulating cash.
It all started when my Paypal began to show signs of life, thanks to the freelance world of writing. Soon my account had grown enough that I began to wonder how I could put this new stream of income to good use.
I talked to the hubby who agreed that more money management skills would be beneficial for our two daughters, ages 9 and 15. But he had reservations about the 3% a week plan. “That’s an exorbitant interest rate to be paying,” he said. “They’re never going to get that again anywhere.”
I wasn’t too worried about that. We had never paid our children an allowance, and the amount that they would be earning with 3% on their Paypal balances would be what some kids get in allowance. I liked the idea of speeding up the process of money accumulation for them with interest, as a powerful lesson about the value of saving.
It was a lesson I remember distinctly from my own childhood: Going to the Savings Bank of Manchester branch in my hometown of Bolton, Connecticut, and handing in my passbook along with a deposit of money, and getting another small amount of money for free (back then, a regular savings account was paying about 3% annually). Even as a 9 or 10 year old, the math wheels in my head were churning, thinking of how much money I could make in that free money, if only I had more in my account. There was only one answer: save more money.
I want my daughters to incorporate a similar lesson into their lives, but unfortunately, there are no banks that pay 3% interest on savings at this time. So I decided to open the Bank of Mom.
The rules were thus: interest at a rate of 3% would be paid on daughters’ weekly Paypal balance. Application for interest needed to be submitted in the form of an invoice on the weekend.
At first, my older daughter seemed not to care. I chalk this up to her having too cushy of a life that she does not think of money enough. My bad. Also, she’s 15 and makes her own money in theater and babysitting, so doesn’t really need to depend on Mom’s wild ideas for income.
My younger daughter was much more on task with requesting and receiving her earnings, and was enjoying the way her $212.50 had ballooned to $225.43 in a mere two weeks, when older daughter caught on that this was a free ride she couldn’t turn down.
Younger daughter began submitting her invoices religiously, but older daughter would require reminders (which I reminded her were not part of the Standard Operating Procedure) and even with reminders, she did not start submitting on time until I put a deadline on the window for when submissions would be received (Saturday, 9 am to Sunday 9 pm.).
Everyone was on board with this plan for a few months, and I watched my meager earnings as a writer dwindle down in weekly payments of $12 and $15 and then $14 and $17 a week. The daughters began to accumulate. Their account balances surpassed mine.
The younger daughter seemed to learn some important lessons. “Camp costs $375 a week!” she exclaimed at one point, “That’s almost all of the money in my account.” Gets you thinking, doesn’t it?
The summer came and requests for weekly payments of interest slowed down. I wasn’t going to remind anyone, because my account balance needed to regain some steam.
“I think maybe we should do once a month for interest,” I told my savers. “The Bank of Mom is a little low.”
“Really?” said younger daughter. “We don’t have enough money?”
“Well, you know how much I make as a writer,” I reminded them.
“That’s fine, let’s go to once a month,” said younger daughter, who we decided to give all decision-making power in this instance. “You need it more than I do.”
Over recent years, a number of initiatives have emerged to support boys and young men of color, with some two dozen foundations involved. But there have been few new efforts aimed at improving the lives of girls and young women of color.
“There’s a myth out there that for girls and women of color, everything is fine,” said NoVo Foundation Executive Director Pamela Shifman, who assumed that role in 2014 after 6 years as NoVo’s Director of Initiatives for Girls and Women. “But everything is not fine. Here at NoVo, we recognize that there is a huge need to focus on support for girls of color. ”
As the economy continues to recover and social movements directed at addressing inequality continue to gain steam, one field of philanthropy that is in ascent is asset building, which helps low income people build up savings to expand their economic opportunity.
For children, one feature of the asset-building strategy is child savings accounts, with the goal of getting more children to start saving and building a nest egg for the future.
Scholars like Benjamin Friedman have demonstrated that economic growth helps drive any number of positive trends: improved human rights, better health, women’s empowerment, higher education attainment, and on and on.
Historically, though, explicit efforts to foster growth haven’t been all that high on the agenda of a philanthropic world that cares about all the things I just mentioned. In particular, funders haven’t tended to do a lot in the way of supporting entrepreneurs, whose new businesses create many of the new jobs that propel growth. Meanwhile, small business has been on the decline in the U.S. for the last decade, a trend that was greatly accelerated by the Great Recession, with new business creation plunging by 30 percent in the wake of the economic crash.
The high percentage of U.S. children living in poverty—one in five, at last count—hasn’t changed much in the past few decades. And while you’d think that would be a national scandal, this issue has just never had the political traction advocates have hoped.
Lately, though, things seem to be changing. Early childhood education is moving up on the national agenda and a new book by Robert Putnam on the deeply unequal lives of American children has received wide attention. Amid a growing debate over inequality, and also race, fresh opportunities are emerging to improve the lives of kids.