When the 1% and the other % connect

Introduced: May 30 2015


As the 2016 election revs up, we’ll probably hear a lot more about the "haves" and the "have nots." There are some who think the solution is higher taxes for the rich; there are others who counter that the rich find their own ways of helping our society. As Warren Buffet said recently, “The poor are most definitely not poor because the rich are rich.”


So when I recently ran into two examples. I thought it was worth passing them along.

First example: Business mogul helps obtain oven for inmates’ cooking classes


When we're speaking of "have nots," it’s hard to imagine anyone that has much less than someone serving time in prison. Many small time criminals become hardened while serving their sentence and they come out worse than they went in.


Hillary Clinton, speaking at Columbia University about the U.S. prison system said, " cannot talk about smart policing and reforming the criminal justice system if you also don’t talk about what’s needed to provide economic opportunity, better educational chances for young people, more support to families so they can do the best jobs they are capable of doing to help support their own children." (read  her entire remarks:


So it’s cause for hope when programs are instituted that actually help the inmates who really want to rehabilitated. Take for instance, a program that’s taking place at Cook County Jail in Chicago. A successful and well known chef. Bruno Abate (owner and chef of Tocco) has taken it upon himself to teach inmates how to cook. Huffington Post featured Abate’s good works in an article earlier this year. (Photo is from Huffington Post.)


But he’s not the only “have” who sees the merit of teaching inmates skills that can land them a job (in addition to some confidence and self-respect). Abate is quoted as saying "When you know how to make pizza well, you can find a job anywhere” and to teach how to make a pizza, you need to have a pizza oven.


Rod Gidwitz, former CEO of Helene Curtis, stepped in to help obtain the $16,000 oven through a indegogo campaign and a request to some of his friends. If Sherriff Tom Dart has his way, it won’t stop there. His ultimate goal is to have the inmates make and box pizzas that the public can buy.

Second example:  Self-made millionaire pays college expenses for entire town


The common response to a town where crime is high, drugs are everywhere, a good education is unavailable or unimportant, and property values are declining might be to avoid it. But Harris Rosen, a man who made his money in the hotel business, decided to take a different tack. He started back in the early 1990s by paying for day care for families living in Tangelo Park, Florida, which at the time had all of the above problems, including a high school graduation rate of only 25%. When those day-care kids reached college age, he paid for their tuition at any state school.


According to a story on the Today show, “In the two decades since starting the programs, Rosen has donated nearly $10 million, and the results have been remarkable. The high school graduation rate is now nearly 100 percent, and some property values have quadrupled. The crime rate has been cut in half, according to a study by the University of Central Florida.”


Here we are, two decades later, hearing about this man’s generosity for the first time, but what I like about this story is that the efforts of this individual are having measurable good results. Not a lot of hoopla, not a lot of bureaucracy – just results.


Maybe if you run into any other wealthy individuals looking for workable ways to improve our world, you can pass this along.

Dialogue on When the 1% and the other % connect