President’s Safety Net Fund/Starfish Initiative
Perhaps you have heard the story of the young girl who came upon thousands of starfish. Washed ashore by a storm, they were dying in the hot sun. The girl began to toss starfish back into the sea, one by one. After a while, a man approached her. “Little girl,” he asked, “why are you doing this? There are thousands of starfish on the beach. You cannot possibly hope to make a difference!” The girl was discouraged, and dropped the starfish in her hand. But a moment later, she bent down, picked up the starfish again, and tossed it as far as she could into the sea. She turned back to the man. Smiling brightly, she said, “I made a difference to that one!” Inspired he joined her. A crowd had gathered, and soon others joined in. Before long, there were hundreds of people tossing starfish back into the sea and calling out, “I made a difference to that one!” After a while, their calls subsided. The girl looked up. To her amazement, she saw no starfish on the beach. Each one had been tossed back into the sea. I like this story because it is so hopeful, and it reminds me what can happen when each of us is willing to take even a small action. When I get discouraged about the financial challenges our students face, I think about that story and the possibility of saving all of our students, one student at a time.
-Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum