When my father died when I was 16, I was completely unprepared to inherit half a million dollars. I felt isolated and confused in contemplating my responsibility toward my wealth.
But by the time I was given control of the principal at age 25, I felt much clearer about what I wanted to do with it. I had stumbled upon the Haymarket People’s Fund donor conferences, where I found a network of like-minded wealthy young people. I decided to redistribute my inheritance, which had grown larger by then. I set up a donor-advised fund at the Funding Exchange in New York to fund grassroots groups working on youth, anti-racism and environmental efforts.
After a couple of years, I realized that in addition to giving the money, I also wanted to release the power over and responsibility for how it was spent. So I moved the remainder to the general Funding Exchange grant fund, where activists in the field make the decisions.
I kept $100,000 of the inheritance to help support me during my first years as a teacher and for a down payment on a modest, straw bale home.
I now work as an educator for my income and have no regrets. Giving away that money was one of the most powerful acts of my life.
| Northeast | 40 to 59 Years Old | Under $1M | at least 50% | Inheritance |
| Children/Youth | Social Justice | Fairness |