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The Hope Fund

A Short History by Harland Bartholomew


The seed for the Hope Fund was planted one morning in 1980 as I read the Sunday paper. The article was about Eugene Lang. Mr. Lang was a very successful businessman and had been asked to give a speech to his elementary school in New York City. As urban legend has it, Mr. Lang’s original thought was to challenge the graduates to work hard and they could be just as successful as him. But, in talking with the principal of PS 129, Lang heard that perhaps 75% of this class would never graduate high school.

Mr. Lang’s response was to step to the podium and challenge this class to do their school work and qualify for college. Mr. Lang made this challenge with the promise that if they did qualify for college, he would pay their expenses. That was the beginning of the “I Have a Dream” program.

This idea remained in the back of my mind as my teaching career unfolded. Around June graduation time there were people giving money and scholarships which kept this idea alive. In June of 2003, a fellow teacher retired and gave some money to the library. At that moment I knew I wanted to and would do something.

Then luck stepped in. A modest investment became a huge success. At that moment, I actually had some significant money. Several people told me not to start a scholarship fund, that I barely had enough for retirement. But, this idea had been simmering for too long. After investigating how to set up an endowment as well as asset management policy, I created the Hope Fund.

As I use to preach to my students, your job is to make this world a nicer place. This is my effort to make things easier for future Vallejo High graduates.

With a little more luck, hopefully I can generate enough publicity and interest in the Hope Fund so it can fulfill the dreams of Vallejo High graduates desiring more education.