The highest form of charity

As I reflect on 2015, my thoughts come back to a recent experience I had, unfortunately, while attending the funeral service of one of our incredible Colorado Business Hall of Fame laureates, Jordan Perlmutter.

At the service, a rabbi sat next to me and we began talking about how we each knew Jordy. I shared my connection and the rabbi asked, “What’s Junior Achievement?” I explained that JA helps young people discover the dignity of work so that they can become self-sufficient adults. Without skipping a beat, he asked me if I was familiar with an essay by the 12th century Jewish philosopher and rabbi, Maimonides.

Maimonides set out a code of charity called “The Golden Ladder” defining eight levels of giving. He wrote that the highest level of giving is “[To] Anticipate charity by preventing poverty” so that he would “not be forced to the dreadful alternative of holding out his hand for charity.” Similarly, Maimonides wrote that if you are in a position to counsel or give advice to someone, it is important to instill in them confidence in their own ability to find solutions to their dilemmas, and even be a source of strength to others.

This is exactly what you do for JA kids. You help young people discover the dignity of work, and the pride of self-sufficiency and earned success. There is no greater charity.

As I look forward to 2016, I am full of gratitude for your commitment to making all of this happen for young people. I celebrate free enterprise, an economic system that has created abundance and lifted more people out of poverty than all the anti-poverty programs combined and I am honored to be a part of an organization that is helping thousands of young people discover the power of their own potential.

Wishing you a happy and prosperous new year. Happy 2016!