How The Foundation Started

My name is Jim Plimpton, and I created Foundation For The Children (FFTC) as a result of my travels in Latin America. As many of you know, poverty there is rampant and children as young as four and five years old are working on the street selling trinkets, shining shoes, sweeping streets, etc. During a recent trip to Colombia, South America, I befriended some street kids and one day during our conversation, I asked them what they would like to have if they could have anything in the world. I was surprised when these children with ragged, filthy clothes and no worldly possessions to speak of, unanimously answered, "We’d like to go to school."

Education in most Latin countries is not free and many poor families cannot afford to send their children to school. The more I traveled throughout South America and asked this question of children, the more amazed I became that an opportunity for education was the greatest wish of almost all impoverished boys and girls.

This realization had a tremendous impact on me, and I made a decision at that time to sponsor some children so they would have a chance to go to school and get the education that is so vital to getting a step up out of poverty.

When I returned from my trip and told some friends of my plan, they also wanted to help sponsor some children. The more I spoke of my plans the more people expressed an interest in participating. The next thing I knew I was starting FFTC.

The Cost To Sponsor A Child For A Year Of Education

The average cost of tuition, school uniforms, physical education uniforms, books, and in some cases medical and dental care is $100 or less for a year! We are having a great deal of success in getting assistance from the local communities, textbook providers, and uniform manufacturers to help keep our costs down.

All sponsorship donations made to FFTC are fully tax deductible.

Why Colombia?

During my visit to Colombia, I spent some time with a friend of mine who owns a small whitewater rafting company. I also met an American woman who was working part-time for the rafting company and getting her Master’s Degree at a university in Bogotá. Her name is Cynthia Mahoney. When I told her about my plans to help some children go to school, she offered to help. Upon my return to the United States, I contacted her and told her of my plans to create FFTC. She spent countless hours researching project areas and investigating costs for tuition, uniforms, books, school supplies, etc. Cynthia’s involvement, her familiarity with the country, her fluent Spanish, and her passion for helping me with this endeavor made Colombia the natural choice to start our educational foundation. See the Projects we Sponsor section for detailed information on the political, social, and economic situation in Colombia.

What We Have Accomplished So Far

In January/February of 2001, I spent one month in Colombia working with Cynthia to establish our initial projects and the infrastructure for the future work of the Foundation. I thought it would be easy to just "give" money away and help children. No such luck. It became a tremendous process of choosing communities, selecting children, establishing tuition payment programs, purchasing supplies, setting up bank accounts, and working with school administrators and community leaders. And all this was in a language I hardly understand.

Thanks to Cynthia, who has become an invaluable part of FFTC, we were able to set up three Projects of our own and assist an additional project that allowed a total of fifty-six children the opportunity to attend school.

I can’t begin to tell you what a tremendous feeling it is to help children achieve a dream. The smiles and expressions of gratitude were so overwhelming that remembering them now brings tears to my eyes.

2002-2003 Update

For this school year we have increased the number of participating students to Approximately 120. Our projects in Mariquita and Tobia are having great success, however, we have had to discontinue our project in La Macarena (see the Projects we sponsor section for details).  We hope to continue providing the gift of education to as many children as possible.  To do this we need your help.