Women's Wear Daily reports today that Georgio Armani is celebrating the opening of his new Fifth Avenue store by establishing the $1 million dollar Armani Arts Institute, which will support arts programs in public schools in underserved New York City neighborhoods. The reason for this post is not to give Mr. Armani his well-deserved plaudits, as I'm sure he's getting those from much bigger sources than our humble blog. Nor am I posting this to trumpet the fact that I read Women's Wear Daily, although I would certainly like to be seen as an enlightened, modern man with a healthy appreciation for women's fashion.
The point is that Mr. Armani's gift is precisely the type of grand, personalized philanthropic gesture that has historically been the sole province of the uber-wealthy or uber-famous, and the precise type of gift that The Generation Project hopes to put in the hands of donors at any income level. We're trying to revolutionize educational philanthropy--and American charity more generally--by moving away from that old model of charitable giving where donors write a check for $50, $250, or $2500 and let an organization decide how to spend it. If, like Mr. Armani, you want to support the arts in high-need New York City classrooms, you can donate art supplies to an elementary school teacher that will put them to good use. If, on the other hand, your passion is politics, you can sponsor an after-school student government club at a high school, or a trip to Washington DC for middle schoolers. Or if a set of particular books touched you as a kid, what better way to leave your legacy than donating that same set of books to an underresourced school library?
Everybody has a gift to share, not just those who can afford to open a store on Fifth Avenue. And kids in high-need public schools don't need $1 million to make a difference (although, if you have it to give, please do!) No matter what you can afford, under The Generation Project's model, the power is in your hands. Like the Armanis, the Gateses, and the Bransons of the world, we want to give you the power to let your ideas shape the future of education.