Billionaire Philanthropists Keep Head Start Afloat During Shutdown

Head Start doors will remain open through the end of October after philanthropists offered up to $10 million to the embattled institution.
October 8, 2013

Head Start doors will remain open through the end of October after philanthropists offered up to $10 million to the embattled institution.

READ: Full coverage of the shutdown's impact on states and localities

Laura and John Arnold, who made their money in the hedge fund and oil and gas industries, said on Monday that they would be donating emergency funds to the Head Start program so that some 7,000 kids from low-income families could continue to receive educational services.

Many Head Start classrooms were put on the brink of closure after the federal government shutdown pulled their funding, forcing parents to cope with the loss of their schools and the vital services they provided. Some Head Start staff have been forced to look for other employment as the shutdown has dragged into its second week.

The philanthropists' gift was announced by the National Head Start Association. It will allow children to return to their classrooms as early as Tuesday morning. A spokesperson for the Laura and John Arnold Foundation told The Huffington Post that the $10 million will come from the family's private account, not the foundation.

According to the National Head Start Association press release, the money will "provide assistance to Head Start and Early Head Start programs that were forced to close or are facing closure this month as a result of the government shutdown."

Seven Head Start programs, mainly in southern states like Alabama and Florida, had been affected. The closure of those programs left 7,195 kids without services, the release states. Tens of thousands of children are at risk of losing their childcare and pre-K services if the government shutdown continues into November, according to the association.

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