In 1981, Eugene Lang, who had grown up in Harlem and later became a self-made millionaire, returned to his former elementary school to deliver the commencement address to the 6th grade class. During his speech, he decided to offer every child in the class the chance to go to college by paying their tuition. Over the next 6 years he took a personal interest in the student's lives, encouraging their aspirations and arranging tutoring and guidance for them. The typical drop-out rate in that district was 50%. In this particular class, 98% of the children graduated and went to college.
Many people at the Ithaca Youth Bureau were inspired by this story. A volunteer Big Brother in the One-to-One Program, Paul Schreurs, was so moved that he committed himself to paying his Little Brother's college tuition. Unfortunately, Paul died in a tragic accident. Paul's family, wanting to keep his dream alive, contacted the Youth Bureau and arranged to set up a fund to provide educational opportunities for youth who, without assistance, might be unable to pursue their education beyond high school.