The Bootstraps Foundation—Providing a Hand Up
"Pull yourself up by your bootstraps" is a part of the American ethos. The culture celebrates people who have become great successes, overcoming major obstacles through their own heroic efforts. Such a man was Bootstraps founder, Ray Danner, a successful restaurant-chain developer and owner, who came out of hardship, began working at age 10, and as a young man purchased his first business for $600. Many businesses and many dollars (both earned and given away philanthropically) later, he was inducted into the Horatio Alger Society. Today, long after Danner's death, his money, along with other contributions, supports the Bootstraps Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
The 19th century author, Horatio Alger, wrote more than 100 novels based on the real-life experiences of the children and youth living on the streets in abject poverty in the mid to late 1800's. The inspirational and influential stories focused on developing character and surmounting life's obstacles to be ready for opportunities for change. He recognized that a timely "hand up" is also a factor in success.
The Bootstraps Foundation searches out high school students who have overcome significant adversity and developed great character and then gives them the "hand up," awarding them $5,000 for each of four years of college. That money in turn is matched by a local university (Belmont) to make higher education possible for these who have already prevailed over so much because of their own bootstrap efforts.
A major reason the Foundation can maximize their mission is volunteers. Board members, including graduated Bootstrap alums, leverage services to keep the organization functioning, including fundraising, printing, copying, mailing, and other necessary tasks. Ed VanVoorhees donates his time and skill to the administrative oversight. Volunteers, lending a hand, make possible the hand up needed to make a difference for deserving young people and those they will touch because of both their own character and this opportunity to gain further education.
For more about this or to donate, visit bootstraps.org.