Stranger Pledges $1 Million To Put Kindergarteners Through College

There are some very happy parents in Anaheim, California.

When a total stranger made a pledge to pay college tuition for every kindergarten student in Anaheim’s Rio Vista Elementary school, their parents were beyond shocked.

According to a report by CNN Money, two ecstatic mothers sprinted to the stranger to offer their gratitude and their tears of joy. Though there was an apparent language barrier, no words were needed. It was clear that this stranger had instantly changed the lives of a couple dozen families.

The stranger, Marty Burbank, pledged to cover the cost of two years at a local community college and two years at California state school. And if the opportunity arises for one of these fortunate kids to go somewhere else, Mr. Burbank is offering the equivalent.

The catch? All that’s required of these children is that each draws a picture or write something every year about what attending college means to them and their families.

“I’m a strong believer in visualizing your goals,” Burbank said, “And this way they’ll be thinking about this each year for the next 12 years.”

Mr. Burbank, who is a lawyer and a Navy vet, along with his wife Seon, a college professor, were each the first among their respective families to graduate from college.


The collective tuition is estimated to be $1 million by the year 2032, according to Burbank, and he has set up a private foundation to which he will pay in funds every year until his goal has been reached.

There are 26 students in Tessa Ashton’s kindergarten class at Rio Vista Elementary. All 26 speak Spanish at home. On their first day of school, they arrived knowing very little English. It was a challenge to say the least.

Ms. Ashton explains that she speaks to her students on a daily basis about college.

“I tell them that they need to sit and listen,” she said, “Because that’s a skill they’ll need when they go to a place called college.”

Each of the children in Ashton’s class will, like Burbank and his wife, be the first in their families to go to college. Most of the kids in Rio Vista Elementary might not be able to afford a secondary education otherwise. The kids in Ashton’s kindergarten class no longer need to worry about that.

“I thought let’s take that financial burden away, and maybe these kids will get more encouragement about going to college,” Burbank explained to CCN Money.

It was only a few months ago that Burbank was going to put his hard earned money towards a boat. He even narrowed it down to a couple of choices and was prepared to make the purchase.

But that’s when his mind was changed.

Mr. Burbank sat in church and listened to his pastor preach about charity, sacrifice, and giving.

Suddenly, Mr. Burbank changed his mind about that boat.

“I thought that buying a boat would be a selfish thing,” he said.

Over the past four years, around the time he met Ashton at church, Burbank has donated his money, his time, and his supplies to Rio Vista Elementary and the teachers there.

The recent very generous donation will have an impact on the finances of Burbank and his wife, but the 51-year-old veteran plans to offset the financial burden by delaying his retirement a few years.

“They said give until it hurts a little, and this hurts,” he said. “But we feel it’s the best investment we could make.”

Burbank explained that he was not making this gesture for attention or for any other kind of recognition. The plan was to keep his generosity private, between the school and himself. But the word has since gotten out, and he hopes it will inspire others to follow his lead.