(Paul Jacob/Common Sense) – Today is Memorial Day, but the larger season is one of graduations, from college and high school and even lower grades. It’s fitting, then, to take a step back and consider the philanthropy of Peter Thiel, who is working on a different course.
Thiel, PayPal co-founder and early Facebook investor, made headlines last year as he began his anti-scholarship program, “20 Under 20.” He is giving $100,000 to 20 young people under 21, but on one condition — that they not go to college.
Instead, his bequests amount to angel seed money for young go-getters to do something original, entrepreneurial.
Now, Thiel has announced his first 20 recipients. An AP story by Marcus Wohlsen leads with the circumstances of one recipient, Nick Cammarata, a young genius programmer. Cammarata wasn’t one of those grade A students. Instead of studying hard, he did what he liked, including reading books on subjects he was interested in. And programming, which got him attention outside his school and town.
Like other recipients of the Thiel hundred grand grant, he plans to parlay the money into a hopeful tech project.
The article dutifully quotes skeptics of Thiel’s program, and mentions the oft-quoted statistic that workers with college degrees have been laid off at a lower rate than non-degreed workers.
But this misses the main point of Thiel’s intent. He’s not interested in making “workers.” He’s interested in creating entrepreneurs. The people who hire workers.
A very different goal.
This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.