Why I Give: Mark Debord

As we approach Giving Tuesday, we are highlighting Richmond donors and volunteers for their commitment to our scholars! Mark is a retired attorney and former Altria employee. He has been involved with Higher Achievement since 2011 and serves on the Richmond Advisory Board and the National Board of Directors.

How did you learn about Higher Achievement?

Mark: The company I used to work for provided some of the initial funding for Higher Achievement in Richmond. I was introduced to Higher Achievement through the company.

What about Higher Achievement caught your attention?

Mark: I met with the then-CEO and then-Executive Director of the Richmond affiliate. I was impressed with Higher Achievement’s data. Lots of organizations provide afterschool services to students, but Higher Achievement had the hard data that proves its model works.

Mark: Shortly after, I attended the opening of the Boushall Center. As I was walking up the sidewalk to the school, several scholars greeted me. I was impressed with how they looked me directly in the eye, shook my hand, introduced themselves, and welcomed me to the school. That showed Higher Achievement’s commitment is not only to academic excellence but also to instilling confidence in the scholars to succeed in life.

What motivates you to give to Higher Achievement? 

Mark: To put it simply, it works. I’ve been volunteering in education for 30+ years. I like to think that those efforts have an impact. Higher Achievement has the data to show it. I know that students who are in the program are more likely than their peers to graduate high school and go on to post-secondary education.

What impact do you believe your gift and time are making?

Mark: I truly believe it’s making a difference in Richmond Public Schools, but we’re just starting. Ten years from now, there will be academic articles on all of Higher Achievement’s positive impacts to the school system and the Richmond area – higher graduation rates, more students going to post-secondary education, better socio-economic outcomes, a well-equipped workforce that attracts other business and more talent to the area, and the list goes on. Of course, each of these happens one scholar at a time.  And meeting them is what gives me the continuing confidence in these outcomes.

Help us make a positive impact in the lives of middle school scholars in Richmond.  Make your Giving Tuesday gift early!